Vietnam ranked second of successfully handling the Covid-19 pandemic

Vietnam was ranked 2nd for successfully handling the coronavirus pandemic, and its contact tracing was so good when it barely had to lock down, according to US magazine Business Insider citing Australian think-tank The Lowy Institute’s recently-published Index.
February 22, 2021 | 13:30
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Health officials collect swab samples from a member of the media during coronavirus testing at the government guesthouse in Hanoi on January 18, 2021, ahead of the upcoming 13th Vietnam Communist party congress. Getty image

The Lowy Institute published an Index on January 28 ranking 98 countries and their success in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. Vietnam ranked No2 behind New Zealand, while the US was listed in 94th position.

According to Insider, as early as January 2020, Vietnam conducted its first risk assessment, immediately after a cluster of cases of "severe pneumonia" was discovered in Wuhan, China.

Guy Thwaites, an infectious disease doctor who works in one of the main hospitals designated by the Vietnamese government to treat COVID-19 patients, told Insider the government responded "very quickly and robustly."

"Schools were shut down and there was a limit on international flights coming in," Thwaites said. "The government did all the simple things quickly."

Vietnam has reported 2,362 coronavirus cases and 35 deaths, despite its population of 97 million.

From previous experience, Vietnam had a long-term plan in place to cope with outbreaks.

Contact tracing, strategic testing, clear messaging, and mask-wearing prevented mass lockdowns.

Kamal Malhotra, a United Nations resident coordinator in Vietnam, said the country's success in handling the virus came down to three things: contact tracing, strategic testing, and clear messaging.

Vietnam closed its border and suspended incoming flights from China, the UK, Europe, and the rest of the world shortly thereafter. Instead of locking the entire country down, the Vietnamese prime minister implemented social distancing measures throughout the country for two weeks in April.

By early May, people across Vietnam were largely able to return to their regular lives, Insider notes.

"The government adopted a zero-tolerance approach to get rid of the virus," Thwaites said. "Basic measures were implemented, but it wasn't easy. When people trust the government, people do what the government says."

Insider reports that by using a low-cost model and implementing basic safety measures (like washing your hands and wearing a mask), it was able to contain the virus within a few months of the pandemic.

No other country with the same size or population has contained the virus the way Vietnam has. With a population of 102 million, Egypt has recorded more than 176,000 coronavirus cases, according to John Hopkins. The Democratic Republic of the Congo — landlocked in the middle of the African continent — has recorded more than 24,000 cases with a population of 89 million.

Despite sharing a border with the country where the outbreak started, Vietnam's success story is one worth telling.

According to Malhotra, Vietnam had a better response to fighting the virus than New Zealand.

"It's absurd to compare countries to New Zealand," he said. "We have much bigger challenges."

The UN resident coordinator also hit back at rumours that the Vietnamese government was not willing to share data.

"There's a lot of skepticism that the government wasn't sharing data but that is not true," Malhotra said. "The data is recorded in real-time and there is no coercion in measures taken here."

The people of Vietnam are learning to live in their new normal, but are still encouraged to social distance and wear masks.

When the article was published, Vietnam, a country with a population of 97 million, recorded just 2,362 cases and 35 deaths.

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Massive testing is one of the measures the government has adopted to prevent the spread of the virus. Photo: VOV

Bre'Anna Grant, from the Business Insider, says that: throughout the pandemic, each country has implemented its own response to the virus - some better than others.

Countries like New Zealand, Australia, and Taiwan have been praised for the way their leaders acted quickly.

Before recording a single coronavirus case, New Zealand imposed travel restrictions on February 3, 2020 for travelers coming from mainland China.

Australia had stricter rules than most other countries - only allowing residents to travel within 3 miles of their homes.

In an op-ed for Time magazine, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen said the country's success to handling the coronavirus outbreak was "no coincidence."

"The painful lessons of the 2003 SARS outbreak, which left Taiwan scarred with the loss of dozens of lives, put our government and people on high alert early on," Ing-wen wrote.

Not too far away lies Vietnam - which has recorded fewer 2,500 cases of the novel coronavirus and 35 deaths - with a population of 97 million people, and shared borders with China, Cambodia, and Laos.

Thinktank The Lowy Institute published an index on January 28 ranking 98 countries and their success in handling the coronavirus pandemic. Vietnam ranked No. 2 behind New Zealand. The US ranked 94.

But it hasn't been praised the way other countries have for its success in combating COVID-19.

Vietnam's early proactivity and focus on contact tracing helped

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Medical personnel in protective suits conduct swab tests for COVID-19 on the support staff for the Communist Party of Vietnam 13th National Congress at the National Convention Centre in Hanoi on January 29, 2021. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Vietnam had the potential to be a hotspot because of its location and population. But by using a low-cost model and implementing basic safety measures (like washing your hands and wearing a mask), it was able to contain the virus within a few months of the pandemic.

No other country with the same size or population has contained the virus the way Vietnam has. With a population of 102 million, Egypt has recorded more than 176,000 coronavirus cases, according to John Hopkins. The Democratic Republic of the Congo - landlocked in the middle of the African continent - has recorded more than 24,000 cases with a population of 89 million.

Despite sharing a border with the country where the outbreak started, Vietnam's success story is one worth telling.

According to Malhotra, Vietnam had a better response to fighting the virus than New Zealand.

Malhotra believes there's a bias against Vietnam's success because of its system of government. Vietnam is a socialist country under the leadership of the Vietnam Communist Party.

"There's a lot of skepticism that the government wasn't sharing data but that is not true," Malhotra said. "The data is recorded in real-time and there is no coercion in measures taken here."

The people of Vietnam are learning to live in their new normal, but are still encouraged to social distance and wear masks.

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Tarah Nguyen

Insider

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00:41 | 21/10/2021
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