Workers.org page of the US Workers World Party (WWP) on April 8 posted an article titled “How Vietnam contained the pandemic” saying that the coronavirus pandemic has started to reveal stark differences in the emergency responses of countries all over the globe.
It said Vietnam is among less developed countries which has mounted a highly successful response, perhaps more so than anywhere else in the world.
The article cited that by April 6, Vietnam, with a population of nearly 100 million people, had just 245 confirmed cases and zero deaths.
Vietnam’s University of Science and Technology has developed a fast and affordable test kit that costs about US$15 and returns results within an hour.
Now 20 countries around the world are seeking to order tens of thousands of them, according to the article.
Vietnam has also focused on effective, nonpharmaceutical methods to contain the virus, it said, adding that on February 1, the country suspended flights to China and decided to close schools after the Lunar New Year break.
It then instituted a 21-day quarantine of Vinh Phuc province north of Hanoi, where a large number of residents had returned from Wuhan, China, the initial epicenter of the outbreak. It has since mandated 14-day quarantines for everyone arriving in the country and cancelled all foreign flights.
Quarantine centers have been set up on the edges of cities providing 100 percent of the medical care, food and shelter for those in quarantine, including foreign visitors, the article reported.
The US website also quoted a British citizen at a quarantine centre in Son Tay as saying “Suddenly it all becomes very human, we’re guests in a country doing their best to protect themselves and are extending us that courtesy. Such is the good nature of Vietnam.”
It also quoted a WWP member who travelled in Vietnam from March 5 to 17 as reporting that screenings in the airports were much more thorough and stringent than in the US. Hand sanitizer was almost everywhere, even in rural areas. People were “chipper” about following the measures set out by the government to contain the virus.
Vietnam has also used social media and information technology to combat the spread of the virus. Almost 90 percent of the people have either a smartphone or a mobile phone.
The government uses an app and other channels to swiftly alert the public to new cases and areas with potential transmission, to help people get tested and to provide scientifically accurate, up-to-date information on best practices to reduce exposure, according to the article.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Health produced a catchy music video to inform people of proper handwashing techniques and other measures to reduce transmission, it said.
The article concluded that Vietnam sets an example for both developing and wealthy countries fighting COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Project Syndicate, a website based in the Czech Republic, on April 8 carried a story titled “Vietnam’s Low Cost COVID 19 Strategy” praising Vietnam for managing the crisis so well that it avoided becoming a hotspot.
The article said Vietnam’s first cases were recorded on January 23, and the situation appeared to be under control until an additional wave of cases fueled by foreign tourists and returning travelers and students.
“Perhaps most remarkably, unlike the Republic of Korea, which has spent considerable funds on aggressive testing, or Singapore, which has established strong epidemiological surveillance, Vietnam has followed a budget-friendly approach that has proven equally effective”, it said.
Despite expectations of high rates of transmission, owing to a shared border with China and the high volume of bilateral trade, Vietnam has recorded only one-fifth the number of infections that much-lauded Singapore has, with no reported deaths to date, it added.
Vietnam’s initial success in slowing the rate of infection was attributed to the authorities’ focus on communication and public education through technology platforms and systematic tracing of pathogen carriers, according to the article.
With 65 percent of Vietnam’s 96 million people online, official news outlets and social media channels (60 percent are on Facebook) successfully shared information about the novel coronavirus.
“In an age when it is difficult to track and stop the spread of mis-/disinformation, understanding the threat, particularly its contagion rate, has been key to citizens’ willingness to cooperate, whether through social distancing or self-isolation.”
Vietnam’s experience demonstrates how, by focusing on early risk assessment, effective communication, and government-citizen cooperation, an under-resourced country with a precarious health-care system can manage the pandemic, the article concluded.