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"Vietnam winning its 'war' against coronavirus"- an analysis from international press

10:39 | 18/04/2020

A densely populated neighbor of China, Vietnam has a weak healthcare system and a low budget for combating the coronavirus. So how has it managed to keep its COVID-19 infection rate so low? Some writers on international press have made their anslysis on Vietnam's Covid-19 defeat  

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With limited resources, Vietnam sought to preempt the COVID-19 pandemic using preventive measures such as mass quarantines and comprehensive tracking of possible cases, which has helped it to contain the number of confirmed cases to 268 but 178 recovered with no deaths so far.

An article on dw says that the coronavirus pandemic rages in wealthy European countries and the US, more than 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) from China where the outbreak began, Vietnam has widely been spared.

In Germany alone, the latest numbers from the Johns Hopkins University show over 134,000 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus, officially known as SARS-CoV-2, resulting in more than 3,800 fatalities. Vietnam, which shares a 1,100-kilometer-long border with China, however, has only reported 268 infections and no fatalities since the outbreak began in January.

Even if we consider these numbers with a dose of caution, one thing is clear: Vietnam has a done a good job thus far in fighting the coronavirus.

During the Tet New Year celebrations at the end of January, Vietnam's government said it was "declaring war" on the coronavirus, although the outbreak at that time was still confined to China. Premier Nguyen Xuan Phuc said during a meeting of Vietnam's ruling Communist Party that it would not be long before the coronavirus reached the country. "Fighting this epidemic, means fighting the enemy," said Phuc.

Mobilizing on all fronts

However, this fight will depend on a lot of government funding and a stout public health system, which are two things that Vietnam lacks.

Vietnam does not have the capacity to undertake a South Korea-style fight against coronavirus, which has so far involved carrying out 350,000 tests. The country's medical system is also limited. Nguyen Thanh Phong, the mayor of Ho Chi Minh City, a metropolis of 8 million people, said that the city's hospitals have a total of 900 intensive care beds. An epidemic in the city would easily overwhelm this capacity.

To take the fight to coronavirus, Vietnam instituted rigorous quarantine policies, and carried out complete tracing of all people who came in contact with the virus. These measures were implemented much earlier in the course of the epidemic than in China, where lockdowns of entire cities were used as a last resort to keep the virus from spreading further.

And from very early on, anyone arriving in Vietnam from a high-risk area would be quarantined for 14 days. All schools and universities have also been closed since the beginning of February.

Vietnam's surveillance state

Instead of depending on medicine and technology to prevent a coronavirus outbreak, Vietnam's already robust state security apparatus has applied a widespread system of public surveillance, helped along by a well-supplied, and generally respected, military.

Security officials or Communist Party spies can be found on every street and crossing in every neighborhood and in every village. The military is also deploying soldiers and materiel in the fight against coronavirus.

This close surveillance largely keeps anyone from slipping through the net or evading regulations.

But the downside of this is those who are sick with COVID-19 are ostracized in their community and on social media. One woman whose case went public in Vietnam brought the virus with her to Hanoi after traveling in Europe. She was widely insulted on social media for having ignored instructions like registering with authorities and remaining quarantined.

War rhetoric

Vietnam is also applying a kind of war rhetoric in its fight against coronavirus. The premier has said: "Every business, every citizen, every residential area must be a fortress to prevent the epidemic."

This has hit a nerve with many Vietnamese, who are proud of their ability to stand together in a crisis and endure hardships.

State-controlled media have also launched a massive information campaign. The Health Ministry even sponsored a song on YouTube about proper hand-washing that has gone viral.

vietnam winning its war against coronavirus an analysis from international press

Following the rules

Although there are no studies to prove it, the mood on social media and conversations with Vietnamese indicate that the majority of the public agrees with the government measures.

They are proud that Vietnam is faring comparatively well in meeting the crisis. The country's most popular coronavirus fighter, vice Premier Vu Duc Dam, has been celebrated on Facebook as a "national hero."

The projected economic costs, which will hit Vietnam hard despite the low case numbers, have also been widely accepted by the population.

According to government figures, 3,000 businesses have closed in the first two months of 2020. Big conglomerates like the Vin Group have shuttered dozens of hotels and resorts due to the drop in tourism, costing employees their jobs.

To ease the burden, Vietnam's government has made $1.1 billion (€1 billion) available to pump liquidity into the economy. However, finance officials expect that tax revenues will dry up because of the crisis. The government is also calling for voluntary donations — and people are giving what they can because they believe in their government during this crisis and in the fight against coronavirus.

It was also cited on laprensalatina by Eric San Juan that:

With limited resources, Vietnam sought to preempt the COVID-19 pandemic using preventive measures such as mass quarantines and comprehensive tracking of possible cases, which has helped it to contain the number of confirmed cases to 268 with no deaths, among 198 recovered so far.

“Investment during peacetime,” “early activation of a response system” and “a whole-of-society approach under strong leadership” can be highlighted as reasons for Vietnam’s success so far, Park Kidong, a World Health Organization (WHO) official in Hanoi, told EFE.

The novel coronavirus was first reported in Vietnam on Jan. 23 after two Chinese nationals tested positive for the infection.

The cases were reported at the beginning of the Lunar New Year, one of the longest holidays during which millions of Vietnamese citizens take the opportunity to travel inside and outside the country, and thousands of Chinese tourists visit Vietnam.

By then, Park notes that the country had been on guard for weeks and in early January, when the first coronavirus infections in China were made public, it had already carried out the first risk assessments and created a special management committee.

Regarding prior preparation “in peacetime,” the WHO representative emphasized that Vietnam already had an action plan ready in the event of a pandemic, which saved weeks of work.

On Feb. 2, with just six confirmed cases, the communist regime in Hanoi had already suspended flights from the most affected areas of China, canceled entry visas, quarantined hundreds of people and closed schools across most of the country.

In the following weeks, containment measures such as the isolation of the entire region near Hanoi – the first of its kind outside of China – were followed by meticulous tracking of all who had come into contact with infected individuals to stop local transmission.

The government created a mobile-phone app to facilitate tracking, but in general it has carried it out in a rudimentary way, taking advantage of the authorities’ intricate surveillance network down to neighborhood level.

These measures, and a vigilant population ready to alert authorities to the slightest suspicion of infection in their neighborhood, helped stop the first wave of infections in a month at 16 confirmed cases, all which recovered.

And now after the second wave Vietnam saw no any new cases reported during 48 hours, 198 among 268 infections recovered and mostly discharged with no deaths confirmed. The most serious cases in Vietnam become better which shows that Vietnam' treatment regimen has been going the right way.

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