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CNN praised Vietnam as a 'success story' in combating Covid-19

14:35 | 30/05/2020

CNN, the famous American news outlet, on May 30 ran an article praising Vietnam as a "success story" in fighting against Covid-19 in the world besides countries such as South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. 

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cnn praised vietnam as a success story in combating covid 19
Motorbike riders with face masks are stuck in traffic during the morning peak hour on May 19 in Hanoi. (Photo: CNN)

Vietnam - a success story

According to CNN, Vietnam is an "overlooked success story" when mentioning successful examples in handling the novel coronavirus outbreak besides South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. 

CNN praised that Vietnam with 97 million people has not reported a single coronavirus-related death and on Saturday had just 328 confirmed cases, despite its long border with China and the millions of Chinese visitors it receives each year.

This is all the more remarkable considering Vietnam is a low-middle income country with a much less-advanced healthcare system than others in the region. It only has 8 doctors for every 10,000 people, a third of the ratio in South Korea.

cnn praised vietnam as a success story in combating covid 19
A woman practises social distancing while shopping for groceries from behind a line at a wet market in Hanoi (Photo: CNN)

After a three-week nationwide lockdown, Vietnam lifted social distancing rules in late April. It hasn't reported any local infections for more than 40 days. Businesses and schools have reopened, and life is gradually returning to normal.

The article accounted for the amazing achievements of Vietnam in the combat against Covid-19 to many factors, including the government's swift, early response to prevent its spread, to rigorous contact-tracing and quarantining and effective public communication.

cnn praised vietnam as a success story in combating covid 19
A Vietnamese People's Army officer stands next to a sign warning about the lockdown on the Son Loi commune in Vinh Phuc province on February 20. (Photo: CNN)

Acting early

Firstly, Vietnam acted early by preparing for a coronavirus outbreak weeks before its first case was detected.

CNN quoted Pham Quang Thai, deputy head of the Infection Control Department at the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Hanoi. "We were not only waiting for guidelines from WHO. We used the data we gathered from outside and inside (the country to) decide to take action early." 

By early January, temperature screening was already in place for passengers arriving from Wuhan at Hanoi's international airport. Travelers found with a fever were isolated and closely monitored.

Vietnam was also quick to take proactive lockdown measures. Schools and universities, which had been scheduled to reopen in February after the Lunar New Year holiday, were ordered to remain closed, and only reopened in May.

cnn praised vietnam as a success story in combating covid 19
A woman stands in a queue to provide a sample at a makeshift testing centre near the Bach Mai hospital in Hanoi on March 31. (Photo: CNN)

Meticulous contact-tracing

Secondly, CNN said Vietnam efficiently deployed meticulous contact-tracing.

According to CNN, a confirmed coronavirus patient in Vietnam has to give health authorities an exhaustive list of all the people he or she has met in the past 14 days. Announcements are placed in newspapers and aired on television to inform the public of where and when a coronavirus patient has been, calling on people to go to health authorities for testing if they have also been there at the same time.

"Using contact-tracing, we located almost everyone, and asked them to stay home and self quarantine, (and that) if they have any symptoms, they can visit the health centers for free testing," CNN quoted doctor Pham. 

Vietnam's contact-tracing effort was so meticulous that it goes after not only the direct contacts of an infected person, but also indirect contacts. "That's one of the unique parts of their response. I don't think any country has done quarantine to that level," said Guy Thwaites, a professor of infectious diseases and the director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam.

cnn praised vietnam as a success story in combating covid 19
A roadside barber donning a face mask gives a haircut to a customer in Hanoi. (Photo: CNN)

Public communication and propaganda

Finally, CNN said contributing to the success of Vietnam in controling the coronavirus outbreak is public communication and propaganda.

From the start, the Vietnamese government has communicated clearly with the public about the outbreak.

Dedicated websites, telephone hotlines and phone apps were set up to update the public on the latest situations of the outbreak and medical advisories. The ministry of health also regularly sent out reminders to citizens via SMS messages.

CNN assessed Vietnam's massive propaganda apparatus was also mobilized, raising awareness of the outbreak through loudspeakers, street posters, the press and social media. In late February, the health ministry released a catchy music video based on a Vietnamese pop hit to teach people how to properly wash their hands and other hygiene measures during the outbreak. 

The article quoted Thwaites, "The population is much more respectful of infectious diseases than many perhaps more affluent countries or countries that don't see as much infectious disease -- Europe, the UK and the US for example." 

cnn praised vietnam as a success story in combating covid 19
A propaganda poster on preventing the spread of the coronavirus is seen on a wall as a man smokes a cigarette along a street in Hanoi. (Photo: CNN)

Vietnam on other newswires

Vietnam's efforts in prevention and control of Covid-19 has recently been lauded by other well-known news outlets. The Canadian newspapers the Globe and Mail said Vietnam has "set the standard" for the fight against Covid-19 when no deaths have been recorded here. It praised Vietnamese government cracked down on the coronavirus early with quarantines, contact tracing and savvy social-media campaigns to educate the public.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization also said "Vietnam was quick to respond and remains in control." The success partly attributed to Vietnam’s experience in responding to outbreaks of SARS, MERS, measles and dengue. 

Recently, the US-based prestigious political outlet Politico has ranked Vietnam “the best COVID-19 performer globally”. Accordingly, Vietnam is a front runner regarding both public health and economic outcomes.

According to Asahi, the most respected daily newspaper in Japan, Vietnam is one of those rare countries that maintain its largely free of hard restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic, announcing it has no coronavirus death to date.

On May 25, the Australia-based website Theconversation published an article on Viet Nam’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, praising Vietnam has a "prudent and low-cost approach". It affirmed that the Vietnamese example reminds us that having extensive financial resources is neither necessary nor sufficient to successfully fight an epidemic.

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Candy Lee