Though it has been over one year since the first COVID-19 case was reported, this pandemic has shown no sign of slowing down. In the battle against coronavirus, both the government and citizens in Vietnam have shown great solidarity, resulting in a successful early detection and containment of the virus, according to The Guardian, UNDP, and Our World In Data. It is safe to say that COVID-19 in Vietnam has been pretty much under control.
Though we are still on full alert that COVID has yet to be defeated, life in Vietnam has come back to normal. What are the reasons behind our success when dealing with coronavirus?
Lessons from the past
Vietnam’s success is no magic. We have had years of experience in dealing with infectious diseases, significant investment in public health infrastructure, and a commitment to early action. Vietnam was the first country recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) to contain severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARs in 2003, according to Global Asia. Then, we also successfully defeated the H5N1 bird flu. Many of the strategies used to suppress these diseases are again in use during the COVID-19 epidemic, in addition to new ones.
Early commitment to defeating the disease
COVID-19 in Vietnam has been considered the priority since day one. By January 21, 2020, the Ministry of Health had issued guidance on outbreak prevention and detection. Soon after, Vietnam had issued its National Response Plan and established a National Steering Committee on Epidemic Prevention.
Strict containment measures were gradually adopted, including airport health screenings, physical distancing, travel bans on foreign visitors, a 14-day quarantine period for international arrivals, school closures, and public event cancellations. Wearing of masks at public venues was strictly enforced, as well as requiring hand sanitizers in public areas, workplaces, and residential buildings. Non-essential services were shut down nationwide, and strict restrictions on movements imposed across most of the country for 3 weeks in early April.
Citizens getting tested for COVID-19 in Da Nang (Source: thanhnienvn)
Quick control measures
Vietnam used extensive contact tracing, isolation, and quarantining. Groups of people who lived near confirmed cases, sometimes an entire street or village, were swiftly tested and isolated, which helped limit community transmission. Treatment and quarantine in hospitals were provided free of charge for Vietnamese, according to IMF.
Transparent communication led to community trust
From an early stage, communications about the virus and the strategy were transparent. Details on symptoms, protective measures, and testing sites were communicated through mass media, a government website, posters in public places, via text messages on mobile phones, and as voice messages before a phone call could be made. The government also launched a contact tracing app in big cities. This well-coordinated multi-media approach strengthened public trust and helped society adhere to protective and containment measures.
A poster showing an image of healthcare workers raising their hands to unite the people is the slogan ‘At home is patriotism’ (Source: Le Hiep Duc)
While we are aware of the prominent existence of the virus, we are ready to revive our economy. Domestic tourism has resumed since late May as domestic flights have been allowed to operate and hotels and resorts have reopened, according to FES. Events with larger groups of people including music festivals, weddings, gatherings in public places are permitted. Schools reopened at the beginning of May By now, normal operations have resumed.
Slow & safe open
As of December 1, Vietnam has temporarily suspended all inbound commercial flights, except for repatriation flights carrying Vietnamese nationals home. At this time the country is only offering entry to diplomats, experts, investors, and their respective family members, international students, and Vietnamese returning home. All visitors must meet specific health regulations and bring the required paperwork in order to be granted entry into Vietnam. COVID-19 in Vietnam at this point is under control.
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