The Vietnamese government’s responses to COVID-19

Vietnam’s outstanding performance in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has been the subject of praise globally. So far, the country has managed to keep COVID-19 deaths to zero. Of the 262 recorded cases to date, 144 have recovered, and the remaining 118 are in stable condition.

But the country’s organized healthcare system that we can be proud of didn’t come overnight. It is the result of a series of well-executed plans that Vietnam has taken ever since the outbreak first began.

Here are the 8 things the Vietnamese government has done well to contain the pandemic: 

1. Taking preventive steps early

Image credit: Bệnh Viện Sản Nhi Quảng Ninh

Vietnam was one of the first countries to recognize the threat from an early stage and take the necessary preventive measures. From January, when the novel coronavirus was still novel, the government was already warning people against traveling to Wuhan, where it originated.

The first 2 known COVID-19 patients in the country, a Chinese man coming from Wuhan to Hanoi in mid-January and his son, who had been working in Vietnam, were quickly quarantined upon testing positive.

Later, in February, when 11 COVID-19 cases were discovered in the Sơn Lôi Village in the northern province of Vĩnh Phúc, including workers returning from Wuhan for the Lunar New Year and their relatives, the government quickly isolated the entire village to contain the disease.

2. Responding quickly to emergencies

Trúc Bạch Street was immediately locked down when Case 17 was reported there
Image credit: Vietnam Times

The Vietnamese government has proven that it is prepared to handle a medical emergency in a short amount of time.

For instance, when Case 17 – a woman who returned to Hanoi from the UK on 2nd March but whose COVID-19 positive status went several days unreported – was discovered on 6th March, authorities immediately called an emergency meeting in the middle of the night in a race against time to stop the disease from spreading further than it already had. 

Trúc Bạch Street, where the patient lives in Hanoi, was immediately locked down, and all who had come into contact with her were quarantined.

3. Adapting to new developments with appropriate measures

Vietnam restricted entry for all foreigners in late March
(Photos for illustration purposes only)
Image credit: @dorbjorn

Vietnam has been closely monitoring COVID-19 cases to come up with effective countermeasures for any new development.

In the second half of March, realizing that many of the new cases were arrivals from other countries, Vietnam implemented several regulations to manage the pandemic, such as suspending entry for all foreigners and redirecting flights away from metropolises to avoid overcrowding quarantine facilities.

A nationwide social distancing policy has been issued, demanding that people stay at home at all times and only go out for essential reasons. Even provinces with no reported COVID-19 cases have to comply.

4. Being open with information provided to the public

vietnamese government stops fake news in covid-19
Spreading fake news about COVID-19 in Vietnam can result in a fine or jail time
Image credit: Mike MacKenzie

While pretty much every country updates the total patient tally and the number of new cases on a daily basis, Vietnam takes it a step further in an effort to keep its citizens well-informed. Its daily updates on the COVID-19 situation don’t just show overall statistics, but also deeper information about every new patient.

That’s right, details on every single new patient are reported, including their age and gender, where they could have gotten the virus from, and where they had been to before they were discovered. This has played a major role in helping people avoid COVID-19 hotspots.

The government is also adamant about stopping false information from causing panic among the community. Those who share fake news on social media can face fines as high as VND20,000,000 (~USD857.24) and can even be jailed for up to 7 years.

5. Supporting frontliners

vietnamese government support frontliners in covid-19
Medical workers are getting a raise
Image credit: Bệnh Viện Sản Nhi Quảng Ninh

Frontliners fight relentlessly to keep us safe from the pandemic, and their efforts have not gone unrecognized here in Vietnam. Both the government and the community have been stepping up  support them.

In late March, the Vietnamese government passed a bill that’ll give medical workers an average of an 11% increase in salary starting this July. This is the biggest pay raise they’ve received in 8 years.

The people, meanwhile, have come up with their own ways to show their appreciation for these heroes. A café in Hanoi, for instance, has been delivering free coffee with encouraging messages attached to doctors and nurses working in a quarantine facility outside the city. Many elders have also stepped up to make their contributions, such as donating to frontliners from their life savings, setting good examples for the rest of us.

6. Ensuring safe and comfortable quarantine conditions

Sumptuous food portions in quarantine facilities
Image credit: Hạ Long Thả Gió

The prospect of living in quarantine might be scary, but for many who’ve actually been through it in Vietnam, it is a memorable staycation that they look back on with fondness.

This is thanks to the government’s effort to provide pleasant living conditions in quarantine facilities. From sumptuous meals all the way down to often overlooked but essential necessities such as sanitary pads, the staff in these locations always try to make sure that quarantined people never want for anything.

Many stories of the dedication of quarantine facility staff have been shared on the internet, earning lots of praise from netizens.

And even in these tough times, Vietnam has not forgotten the law of hospitality. It has gone out of its way to make sure that foreign visitors can enjoy a comfortable stay even in quarantine. The Chairman of the People’s Committee of Huế City even wrote a letter to quarantined tourists to apologize for the inconvenience, promising them free entry to a major attraction in the city the next time they return.

7. Providing financial support to the vulnerable

vietnamese government support people in covid-19
Lottery ticket sellers struggle to make ends meet
Image credit: Vân Anh Mai

The COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted great damage on the economy, costing many people their jobs and homes. For instance, lottery ticket sellers in southern cities, most of whom are from the countryside, have struggled to make ends meet since the national lottery stopped operating, and also can’t even afford to go home.

To help sellers get by, lottery companies in the Mekong Delta region, under directives from the government, have been giving them a daily allowance of VND50,000-VND70,000 (~USD2.14-USD3.00) since the beginning of April.

It’s not just lottery companies that are supporting their vendors. The Ministry of Planning and Investment has also proposed that the government spend over VND61 trillion (~USD2.6 billion) to support people facing financial difficulty due to the pandemic. If the bill is passed, lower-income households – officially classified as those with an average monthly income of lower than VND700,000 (~USD30.02) per person – and employees who have lost their jobs or been forced to take unpaid leave can look forward to a monthly allowance of VND500,000-VND1,800,000 (~USD21.43-USD77.16) for the next 3 months.

8. Contributing to the global COVID-19 fight

vietnamese government support other countries in covid-19
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tô Anh Dũng (third from right) and European country representatives in the medical supply handover ceremony
Image credit: Thời sự VTV

COVID-19 is a global threat that doesn’t exclude anybody. For a country to truly be free of the virus, the entire world has to be too. Realizing this, Vietnam has extended a helping hand to countries most severely hit by the pandemic.

Last week, it donated 550,000 face masks to several COVID-stricken countries in Europe as well as helped some Europeans stranded in Vietnam to fly home. Vietnam has also provided the manpower to help the US make 450,000 protective suits.

On top of that, our country has gifted VND14 billion (~USD600,410) worth of medical supplies to our neighboring nations of Laos and Cambodia to help them fend off the pandemic.

Vietnamese government’s effort in dealing with COVID-19

Not only has Vietnam done well to protect itself from the outbreak, but it has also been able to assist other countries. If more nations can do the same, we’ll no doubt be able to flatten the global curve eventually.

For more COVID-19 stories in Vietnam, check out:

Cover image adapted from: Bệnh Viện Sản Nhi Quảng Ninh, Thời sự VTV

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