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Russian couple hosts compatriots stranded in Vietnam due to COVID-19

Tuesday, April 28, 2020, 17:17 GMT+7
Russian couple hosts compatriots stranded in Vietnam due to COVID-19
Gula (right), her husband, and their daughter pose for a photo at their tenanted house in Nha Trang City, Khanh Hoa Province, Vietnam. Photo: Minh Chien / Tuoi Tre

Twenty Russian adults and 15 children marooned in Vietnam’s south-central province of Khanh Hoa due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have found themselves a shelter provided by their compatriots.

The shelter is a tenanted house at No. 76 Cao Van Be Street in Nha Trang City, the provincial capital.

It has been rented by Gula and her husband, who only came to the city last year.

The Russian couple was so charmed by the peaceful lifestyle and local people’s friendliness that they decided to settle in the coastal Vietnamese city, earning their living by giving dancing classes and running a small business.

Although they are not wealthy landowners, Gula and her husband have decided to leave the door of their tenanted house wide open to stranded compatriots caught by canceled flights amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every day, the Russian friends do the cooking, cleaning, and babysitting together.

They also work together to find ways to help other stranded Russians by providing medicine and financial support to cover their living expenses.

Alena Ptushka, 26, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper she and many other Russian visitors have been staying at Gula’s house since flights returning to Russia were canceled, while hotels and restaurants in Nha Trang were closed to practice social distancing.

According to Ptushka, she and her Russian compatriots were all running low on money and medicine.

“If it weren’t for Gula and her husband, we wouldn’t know how we could make it during this COVID-19 pandemic,” Ptushka said.

According to the young woman, the Russians feel safe and protected in Nha Trang while the pandemic gets worse in Russia.

Along with the support from Gula and her husband, the 'temporary tenants' in the house have received unexpected gifts from the local people in Nha Trang.

Ptushka emotionally told Tuoi Tre how touched she felt when she was given a free meal by a local store. An attendant there even asked her to come back for free lunch every day.

“It was such a surprise! It’s hard for us to find a place to eat in the city right now. What the Vietnamese people are doing is just so adorable and kind,” Ptushka said.

Local residents donated uncooked rice and vegetables to the group of Russians, while Gula’s Vietnamese landlord has agreed to slash her rent for three months, she said.

Local authorities have been providing both financial and mental support to the stranded Russians.

“Our units are willing to help them with food and medicine. I hope these foreigners feel secured in Nha Trang,” said Khanh Hoa vice-chairman Nguyen Dac Tai.

On Monday morning, some guests at Gula’s house were among 182 Russians flown home from Cam Ranh International Airport in Khanh Hoa on a special flight arranged by Vietnamese and Russian authorities.

Meanwhile, Gula’s family and some other Russian nationals have decided to continue staying and working in Vietnam.

“Maybe I’ve fallen in love with this land already. Thank you, Vietnam! You guys are wonderful,” Gula said.

Vietnam has confirmed 270 cases so far, with 222 having recovered, according to Ministry of Health statistics.

No death from the disease has been recorded in the country.

The only COVID-19 case reported in Khanh Hoa has been cleared of the virus.

In Russia, the authorities reported 6,198 new cases of the new coronavirus on Monday, bringing the total to 87,147, with 794 deaths, according to Reuters.

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