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[Op-ed] Why Vietnam has been the world’s number 1 country in dealing with coronavirus

While other countries have dithered, Vietnam’s response to Covid-19 has been swift, sharp and effective

Glen MacDonald

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Corona Vietnam Health Top

As the coronavirus continues to strike fear and panic across the globe, it is business as usual in Vietnam. The streets are abuzz with speedy motorbikes. The floor of local bia hoi joints are still damp from spilt beer. Coffee shops are still busy with Vietnamese customers, although the smiles are cautiously hidden behind face masks. Despite being a so-called developing country, right on the Chinese border, Vietnam has virtually stopped the virus it in its tracks with a swift, effective, no-nonsense approach. Since the initial outbreak back in January, Vietnam has only seen 16 cases of the virus. Every person has been successfully treated and sent home safely, including a 3 month-old baby. There have been no new cases within the last two weeks. In short, Vietnam has kicked corona’s ass.

The country’s greatest success in dealing with the virus has been a quick response, understanding the severity of the issue and strict widespread monitoring of anyone who has so much as shown a single symptom. After discovering just six infected patients in the country, Vietnam declared the virus an epidemic, one of the first countries do so. Even the, usually cautious, World Health Organization were quick to praise the country saying: “Early detection, early isolation, and active treatment is extremely important. Vietnam’s early actions stopped the further spread of the disease, saving thousands of lives.”
           

Sure, it has put the noses of a few teachers out of joint, but the immediate and widespread closure of schools across the nation also minimized risks.

Vietnam has successfully combated both coronavirus and any ignorance surrounding the disease. Colorful signs are found in banks, shopping malls and other public places reminding citizens to wash their hands and take other preventive measures. The government released detailed, transparent statements about symptoms, helping concerned parents become armchair experts on the disease.  Those germ factories otherwise known as children and young people were both informed and entertained by a slapping V-Pop song “Ghen Co Vy.” The viral music video teaches children about the disease with cute animation and an infectious rhythm. People as far afield as John Oliver even sung its praises, albeit in comic fashion.

Sure, it has put the noses of a few teachers out of joint, but the immediate and widespread closure of schools across the nation also minimized risks. This has been a scary time for young families, but Vietnam’s transparency has eased much anxiety. These efforts have created informed, cautious citizens all playing their own part to slow down and ultimately stop infections. Vietnam has even made scientific headway in fighting the disease, developing advanced testing kits and creating a global early-warning system. Aljazeera has even described the country’s response as a miracle.

Corona Interactive Map

The country has simply not allowed misinformation and profit to influence its efforts to keep the country healthy. In the early days of the outbreak, racist tirades and falsehoods plagued social media. In a swift response, Vietnam threatened those spreading fake news with hefty fines and even jail. It worked. Similar consequences were levied towards pharmacies who had started price-gouging face masks and other equipment. With everyone on the same page, Vietnam was able to focus solely on getting better.

The speedy response, informed citizens and campaigns against greed and dishonesty eased tensions during the most trying times of the epidemic. When 11 cases of coronavirus were discovered in the rural commune of Son Loi, including a 3-month old girl, the government quickly quarantined the community of 10,000 people. Son Loi is located only 46 kilometers from Hanoi, yet, despite the virus being so close to the capital no mass panic ensued. As the nearby quarantine continued, Hanoians watched televised broadcasts together in restaurants. Unaware toddlers giggled innocently as their mothers disinfected their chopsticks. For two weeks, Hanoi held its breath and held firm awaiting the outcome.

Fortunately, city-wide sigh of relief soon came. Doctors and other healthcare professionals flocked to the northern village and created a strict treatment routine. Miraculously, all patients recovered and the quarantine was over by March 3. As a result of Vietnam’s efforts, fear and pessimism did not emerge but rather hope instead. Upon the release and recovery of the infected 3-month old, her mother thanked doctors, saying: “She will study hard to become a doctor and help other children like you do.”

The most important tool in the fight against the virus is the Vietnamese healthcare system’s inclusive nature. Although wealth inequality is still paradoxically a problem in this Communist nation, Vietnam understands the disease does not discriminate based on income. Vietnam Social Insurance offers free healthcare to anyone showing symptoms of the virus. The WHO has also suggested that Vietnam’s success with the virus was due to years of investment in public health. With such easy access to such programs, the Vietnamese people and system have (hopefully) stopped the virus from making deeper headway. 

Meanwhile President Donald Trump has been more concerned with protecting his reputation than the American people, even going as far as using the crisis to attack political rivals.

By contrast the response of more prosperous nations has often been disastrous. The first death has already occurred in the United States, thousands of miles from the virus’s epicenter, and instead of a swift well-planned response, the country has descended into all-too-predictable culture wars regarding how serious the threat is. Despite being separated from China by the Pacific Ocean and harboring many useful resources, the United States is woefully unprepared for the coronavirus.

The Center for Disease Control remains largely understaffed, leaving the crisis to be managed by Vice President Mike Pence whose understanding of science barely matches that of an 8-year-old. Meanwhile President Donald Trump has been more concerned with protecting his reputation than the American people, even going as far as using the crisis to attack political rivals. Before facing public criticism, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declined to promise a vaccination would be affordable to all. Disgraceful.

While the U.S response has been woeful, other countries have also struggled with the virus, with serious outbreaks in Italy, South Korea and Iran. With less resources and less time than most other nations, Vietnam has played a blinder and can lay strong claim to being the number one country in the world at dealing with this dangerous virus.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Paul

    March 4, 2020 at 3:50 pm

    Good, positive article needlessly spoiled with unnecessary, unrelated, and partisan, ‘orange man bad’ nonsense at the end.

    • Avatar

      Daniel Smith

      March 6, 2020 at 9:23 am

      You have that right. Orange man only strikes back after the leftist media (democrats) attacked him. New York Times article call it “Trump virus,” while the number of infected individuals was still in the single digits, and the story about the CDC has been deemed false by fact checkers.

      • Avatar

        Choderus

        March 16, 2020 at 12:14 am

        Wrong. Trump repeatedly downplayed the virus, saying it would never show up here, saying that it would never spread once it was here, saying it was isolated and under control, and finally admitting it is a national emergency, which we have no test kits available for. He has been an incompetent disaster.

  2. Avatar

    James

    March 5, 2020 at 12:21 am

    Amazing job by Vietnam.Trump was first to publicly praise them. Yet with his quick and effective response in U.S,he was called a racist.Im not an American, but the U.S response should be praised also. I liked the article untill unfortunately it went all CNN fake news at the end.

    • Avatar

      Choderus

      March 16, 2020 at 12:17 am

      Quick & effective? You are delusional or a straight-up liar. Only you, your god, and your mommy know for sure.

      • Avatar

        HANNÁHHH

        March 18, 2020 at 3:23 pm

        Pardon me, and yes hannahleine feels ostrascised and “frilled-MOCKED”for leaving a comment to response to your thread. “MR. CHODERIS “ where are your sincere scientific FACTS to back up the statement against JAMES?! who said he wasn’t even AMERICAN CITIZEN? How many hospitals have you physically been to?

  3. Avatar

    Tony Walbran

    March 6, 2020 at 4:56 am

    Having just returned to Australia after spending almost a year overseas with the last several months in Vietnam, I can corroborate what is being said in the article.

    The Vietnamese people are staying calm and more concerned with the economic impact. It was quite a shock to arrive in Australia to find the country operating at a level of irrational hysteria that I have not seen in a long time. As well as what the author says, I believe what has helped is the lack of commercial news media outlets there. My impression is that panic sells newspapers and gets eyes on screens, so the more panic can be spread the more readers and viewers and so more profit.

    • Avatar

      Keith Johns

      March 7, 2020 at 3:49 pm

      I agree the Media is very small here and not talking about it, from what i’ve heard the GOV just won’t allow it. But i find this a double edged sword, the people don’t know much about it or the problems.

      As there are many cases in VN currently and even tiktok kids like “Henry nguyen” that are posting videos of how to SKIP out of islolation after returning from S. korea and another lady that was scared to tell the GOV and has been running around in Ha noi for last 8 days with Corona knowing she had it.

      Transparentcy is VERY important in these times and i agree to much media will create a HUGE amount of chaos, but also hiding the truth and problems also doesn’t help. People here are still running around the streets all day, out all night, peeing on roads, living life like nothing is wrong…

      yet again people are here that are in fear of the GOV to admit their sickness…I find this article is relying heavly on what they are ALLOWED to know about VN and its current state rather than what is going on.

      Even reddit you will see the VN praise the GOV for being the best in the world for corona but 2 articles down 3 girls running around Phan Thiet where found to have Corona with one falling over in public and still hasn’t woken up.

      Scary times

  4. Avatar

    Ullr

    March 6, 2020 at 8:13 pm

    Congratulations to Vietnam and Taiwan for doing such a good job of preventing the spread of coronavirus. However, Germany and the E.U. have 10 times the per capita incidence of coronavirus cases as the U.S..

  5. Avatar

    Miguel

    March 7, 2020 at 9:16 am

    Not so fast , but there are new cases being allowed to be reported and still some not reported. Despite Vietnam’s efforts it is just containing. There are other countries that are not infected. However, like a common flu will eventually be infected! It’s a pathogen virus! Let’s learn from it and allow us as a species to create a cure land help our civilization still live in this dying world.

  6. Avatar

    Charity W

    March 16, 2020 at 8:36 am

    Good reporting on Vietnam- disappointed in childish comments about the president and VP Pence. You need to write a more objective article without slipping in your political leanings.

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