Keeping calm and carrying on: Vietnam sets a coronavirus example

As much of the western world descends into a COVID-19-induced panic, nations in close proximity to China have remained relatively calm. 

Keeping calm and carrying on: Vietnam sets a coronavirus example

Foreign tourists wear face masks during a cyclo ride in Hanoi. — VNS Photo Alexander McNab Ollie Arci

By March 2, Việt Nam had registered only 16 cases of the virus, all of which had been treated successfully and released from hospital. The country’s 17th case, imported on a flight from London, kicked off a new wave of cases, which as of writing stands at 76.

Even with a new wave of cases, the numbers are far from those witnessed in the western world. The issue has been taken seriously, with all suffering symptoms put in quarantine and tested, while their places of residence are locked down and sanitised. Việt Nam was one of the first nations to declare an epidemic and has been quick in its response, both in handling current cases and ensuring the spread of the virus is as limited as possible. 

The country has been putting in place preparations since January, knowing the potential impacts of the epidemic. From the start, Việt Nam has been ready to sacrifice economic gain for the greater good of a healthy population. It seems that readiness has worked. If strict, the measures have so far paid off – with no deaths recorded, in stark comparison to the ballooning numbers in Italy and the rest of Europe. Many of these countries have now been placed under lockdown, and clips of sequestered residents singing from their balconies demonstrate a resilience of spirit, if not evidence of preparedness on the parts of their governments. 

It seems authorities in the west are playing catch-up, having displayed a sense of nonchalance in the early days and are now realising the error of their ways. For many, places like Việt Nam represent a form of sanctuary compared to their homes. Posts on Facebook say how expats are feeling safer abroad than in the UK, US or Canada. The transparency with which authorities have dealt with the situation has also been praised, helping cement public trust and stop undue panic before it starts. 

The reaction here has been nothing short of exemplary. As supermarkets in many countries are raided for essential supplies, shelves remain fully stocked and those in quarantined areas are helped through community efforts to supply food, water and other goods. There was no run on loo roll, perhaps due to the prevalence of the celebrated ‘bum gun’, or more likely because of trust in the authorities’ ability to manage the problem. 

A high level of consideration for others is pervasive, while announcements from the Government have been factual and prompt, adding to the prevailing sense of calm. The early declaration from Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc – of waging a battle against the virus as if it were an enemy – set the State up for an ‘all-government’ effort against COVID-19. In addition to sober announcements and policy changes, light-hearted songs have captured the world’s attention and made the case that we’re all in this together. 

All for one

 

While other nations are slowly closing schools and shutting down large-scale events, such action has been going on here for weeks. Bottles of communal hand sanitiser quickly popped up in public places, while signs, posters and ads are now common across major cities. Temperatures are also checked on entry to big buildings. Recent rules mandating the use of face masks may seem draconian, and the jury is still out on their efficacy, but the simple gesture is one demonstrating a level of seriousness towards the safety of the community as a whole. As a guest, it seems only right to adapt and embrace. 

The incredible, wide-reaching response is necessary for a country of nearly 100 million. But more incredible is the low number of cases despite the long border with China and the continuing efforts of global economic integration. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) has praised the efforts of the Vietnamese Government, saying: “Early detection, early isolation, and active treatment is extremely important. Việt Nam’s early actions stopped the further spread of the disease, saving thousands of lives.” 

The UK's National Health Service, much-vaunted and yet critically underfunded for years, was teetering on the brink long before the coronavirus reared its contagious head. If you thought Brexit was the final nail in the coffin, it could in fact be COVID-19 which pushes the overworked staff and creaking facilities into oblivion. In contrast, Việt Nam's public health service may not have the sheen of western counterparts, but has received funding over the years, allowing for a level of preparedness required for just such a crisis. A rapidly deployed plan has designated facilities across the country as quarantine and treatment centres, while doctors, nurses and other medical staff are ready at a moment’s notice to reach potential new outbreak clusters. 

Even tourists arriving in Việt Nam after immigration restrictions were implemented were full of praise despite being quarantined, with one couple writing in a letter posted on social media: “We respect the fact that this is what had to happen in the circumstances and we are very thankful to the hospital and all the staff for looking after us so well.”

Other countries seem to be backpedalling frantically against their slow response, like Italy, or weighing options while citizens become frantic, like the UK. A far cry from the Blitz spirit. A British tourist shipped into quarantine on arrival said: “while the rest of the world waited, Việt Nam has been preparing.”

Whether the stringent measures pay dividends over the long run is yet to be seen, but in terms of social sentiment, the east is definitely winning this war at the moment. — VNS

First day of face masks being compulsory comes into force in Hanoi

First day of face masks being compulsory comes into force in Hanoi

Following the passing of recent legislation, all Vietnamese citizens and foreigners are now required to wear face masks when in public as of March 16, with the majority of people around the capital following the new rules.

Foreign visitors wander Hue streets without face masks

Foreign visitors wander Hue streets without face masks

Despite new regulations coming into force on March 16 making it mandatory for all people to wear face masks in public, many foreign visitors could still be spotted not wearing face masks when strolling along the streets of Hue.

 
 

Other News

.
When reform becomes quiet
When reform becomes quiet
FEATUREicon  17/03/2020 

While the movement of reducing administrative procedures and simplifying business conditions in 2018 was described as a ‘big wave’, the activities were just ‘small ripples’ in 2019.

How Vietnam sacrifices economy to protect its people?
How Vietnam sacrifices economy to protect its people?
FEATUREicon  16/03/2020 

Taking tough measures for the safety of people has become the government's top priority.

The credibility of cooperation
The credibility of cooperation
FEATUREicon  15/03/2020 

It may not be hard to discern that through the EU’s defiance towards Italy’s desperate calls for aid and America’s freshly-imposed barriers on its European allies, inter-state cooperation has been lacking in the fight against COVID-19.

Encouraging signs in real estate arena
Encouraging signs in real estate arena
FEATUREicon  13/03/2020 

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak piling pressure on the toughest segments of the real estate market in hospitality, retail, and industrial property, positive signs have also been unearthed.  

The EVFTA’s grand impacts on Vietnam’s industrial sector
The EVFTA’s grand impacts on Vietnam’s industrial sector
FEATUREicon  14/03/2020 

The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and Investment Protection Agreement raise many hopes for all of Vietnam’s economic sectors. 

Duong opens new chapter for Vietnamese boxing
Duong opens new chapter for Vietnamese boxing
FEATUREicon  14/03/2020 

Vietnam has waited more than three decades to see a Vietnamese fighter qualify for an Olympics and Nguyen Van Duong ended the drought after he secured a Tokyo Olympic slot at the Asia/Oceania Olympic boxing qualifying tournament.

Tailwinds expected via foreign-funded activities
Tailwinds expected via foreign-funded activities
FEATUREicon  13/03/2020 

Exchange-traded fund providers are offering more choices to foreign investors, at a time when portfolio rebalancing and global uncertainties could leave them high and dry.

VN pharma landscape set for shake-up
VN pharma landscape set for shake-up
FEATUREicon  12/03/2020 

Facing significant expansion from multinational corporations, Vietnamese drug giants took a hit in 2019 despite new strategies, signalling an uninspiring outlook for future growth.  

Head in the clouds, Vietnamese engineer reaches for the stars
Head in the clouds, Vietnamese engineer reaches for the stars
FEATUREicon  14/03/2020 

Three mice died and a few hearts sank. It was March, 2015 in Hyderabad, India. When the vital signs went down, Pham Gia Vinh and his team knew the mice would die.

The change of thinking and action in foreign investment cooperation
The change of thinking and action in foreign investment cooperation
FEATUREicon  10/03/2020 

The Politburo has issued Resolution No.50/NQ-TW on August 20, 2019, outlining directions to perfect institutions and policies to improve foreign investment efficiency and cooperation until 2030.

Rules of origin pose questions for sectors jostling for position
Rules of origin pose questions for sectors jostling for position
FEATUREicon  08/03/2020 

Although the free trade agreement between the EU and Vietnam will offer great opportunities for wood investors and exporters, its rules of origin may not provide a big boon to local textile and garment businesses.

Game changer for the energy arena
Game changer for the energy arena
FEATUREicon  07/03/2020 

Vietnam has recently created several favourable policies, including the Politburo’s Resolution No.55-NQ/TW on the orientation of Vietnam’s national energy development strategy to 2030 with a vision towards 2045.

American painter tells colourful stories of Vietnam
American painter tells colourful stories of Vietnam
FEATUREicon  07/03/2020 

After being impressed by the Vietnamese people living in northern Virginia in the US in the early 1990s, Charles Daniel Hambleton, a native of the state, visited Vietnam for the first time.

Your guide to every 2020 V.League 1 club
Your guide to every 2020 V.League 1 club
FEATUREicon  07/03/2020 

The 2020 V.League 1 season is almost upon us and (coronavirus permitting) matches will kick off coming week.

Expat football fans find taste of home with V.League
Expat football fans find taste of home with V.League
FEATUREicon  07/03/2020 

There’s nothing quite like a day out to watch live football. 

Ford expansion’s impact on Vietnam’s vehicle output muted by imports: Fitch Solutions
Ford expansion’s impact on Vietnam’s vehicle output muted by imports: Fitch Solutions
FEATUREicon  04/03/2020 

U.S. automaker Ford Motors’ latest announcement that it intends to expand its Vietnamese plant will provide only a modest boost to the country’s vehicle output over this year and next, according to Fitch Solutions.

Enterprise support around the corner
Enterprise support around the corner
FEATUREicon  03/03/2020 

With the coronavirus epidemic badly damaging business performance and undermining local production, Vietnam will officially launch a major support package to spur on businesses’ performance and ensure economic growth.  

How EVFTA, coronavirus affects Vietnam industrial property?
How EVFTA, coronavirus affects Vietnam industrial property?
FEATUREicon  04/03/2020 

The coronavirus outbreak will certainly have an effect on the global economy in the coming months. Vietnam, with its proximity and close trade and supply relationships with China, is no exception.

Robust growth predicted for Vietnam’s power sector despite near-term headwinds
Robust growth predicted for Vietnam’s power sector despite near-term headwinds
FEATUREicon  04/03/2020 

Fitch Solutions predicted power consumption in Vietnam to grow by an annual average of 6.5% between 2020 and 2029, which still remains one of the fastest growth rates in Asia.

Ballerina Thu Hue: Ballet helps me discover myself
Ballerina Thu Hue: Ballet helps me discover myself
FEATUREicon  02/03/2020 

Forbes Vietnam magazine has announced the “Top 30 Under 30” list to honour the most influential faces in the country, including artist Thu Hue from the Vietnam National Opera and Ballet Theatre (VNOB) for her impressive contributions in 2019.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN