return icon

The truth about COVID-19 Patient 17 in Vietnam

While the international community recognises and highly values the COVID-19 prevention and control outcomes in Vietnam, 

as well as the Government’s efforts to minimise the pandemic’s impact on vulnerable groups, guarantee people’s right to medical treatment, and ensure no one is left behind, the story of the 17th patient infected with SARS-CoV-2 in Vietnam published on The New Yorker on September 21 has encountered public backlash due to its lack of objectivity.

The truth about COVID-19 Patient 17 in Vietnam hinh anh 1

A billboard sharing COVID-19 prevention measures on a street in Hanoi (Photo: VNA)


In an article entitled “The Public-Shaming Pandemic” of The New Yorker, Patient 17 and her sister were portrayed as victims of public humiliation.

The article wrote about those who accidentally spread the coronavirus and thus faced strong attacks and smearing in the internet.

Commenting on this article, most of Vietnamese internet users expressed their indignation at the wrong and insufficient information about Patient 17 provided in the article.

The so-called “the Vietnamese government, which regularly uses newspaper leaks to persuade or frighten its citizens…” in this article is inaccurate.

On the night of March 6, when learning about the first COVID-19 case in Hanoi, many people became anxious and frightened. At 10pm on that day, the city’s steering committee for COVID-19 prevention and control convened an urgent meeting to provide information about this case.

At the meeting, a 26-year-old woman living in Truc Bach ward of Hanoi’s Ba Dinh district was declared the 17th patient positive for the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The administration also announced that necessary measures had been carried out to cope with the situation and called on all people to stay calm and not panic. It also made public information about the outbreak’s developments to local residents.

The New Yorker’s report that “Within an hour of articles about the meeting being published, people on the Internet had figured out who Nhung (Patient 17) was and found her social-media accounts” is also not true.

Prior to the urgent meeting at 10pm of March 6, netizens had shared every personal information as well as social-media accounts of Patient 17 though such information had yet to be verified. Even many people having the same name with this woman also suffered from internet users’ criticism as they were mistaken for Patient 17.

Additionally, the article of The New Yorker lacked many important details.

While noting that “One user came across a photograph of a woman who looked like Nhung at the grand opening of a Uniqlo, and reposted the image on Instagram, announcing to her followers that Nhung was partying while sick,” it did not mention that then Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung told the press after the urgent meeting on March 6 that Patient 17 had not attended the opening of the Uniqlo shop in Hanoi as rumoured.

In addition, Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Vuong Dinh Hue also corrected fake news saying that Patient 17 had visited a bar on March 3 falling ill.

Hue also requested the police force to strictly punish those spreading fake news on the disease. “Cyber security should be controlled more closely. People should follow official information sources from the city, not fake news,” he suggested.

The New Yorker’s article also contained another incorrect detail when saying that “The Vietnamese government, clearly committed to making an example of Nhung, let it be known that when she flew home from London she did not mention her visit to Italy”.

According to the Noi Bai border gate police, Patient 17 had used a British passport to travel to European countries, but she used a Vietnamese passport to enter Vietnam on March 2.

The Noi Bai border gate police checked each page of her passport carefully, but did not detect any Italian entry-exit stamp. Along with making a false medical declaration, this woman was allowed to enter Vietnam without quarantine.

In addition, the article only mentioned that her aunt had been infected with the coronavirus from her, without providing additional information that her aunt may not survive if not receiving wholehearted treatment from Vietnamese doctors.

Amidst the dangerous COVID-19 pandemic, Patient 17 still concealed the fact that she had travelled to disease-hit areas in Europe to avoid being quarantined. The consequence of this act is that an entire street with more than 100 residents were quarantined for 14 days and had to receive supplies from the Government, and a private hospital which she came for check-ups was forced to close its door to ensure safety.

Although the right to privacy of each individual needs to be respected, it is not the reason for an individual to cause danger to the entire community. The right to privacy does not mean that social responsibility can be ignored. In addition, in this case, she also violated the law on infectious disease prevention and control.

No matter what the sisters said, the fact is they had been infected with the dangerous virus. Patient 17 was treated successfully by Vietnamese doctors, and she also acknowledged this fact and her family also showed their gratitude.

With an article which reported on Vietnam’s disease control process in an unconstructive way, The New Yorker ignored a fact that Vietnam – a middle-income country - has been fighting the disease efficiently despite a lack of resources. The newspaper also forgot differences in culture among nations./.VNA


Power shortage worries increase hunger for coal

Vietnam is maximising its coal mining output amid widespread power outages in the north.

Indicators ripe for wave of tech startup successes

Venture capital investment flows into Vietnam, particularly from Singapore, are on track to surpass the previous level, propelled by the country’s buoyant tech startup scene.

Tourism industry faces serious labor shortage

Because of low pay, many workers have left the tourism sector.

Industrial parks, economic zones absorb US$ 230 billion in foreign direct investment

Industrial parks (IPs) and economic zones (EZs) across the country have attracted nearly 11,000 foreign direct investment projects worth US$230 billion, according to Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Tran Quoc Phuong.

Property, fishery sectors face hardship as credit chokes

At a government-to-business conference held yesterday, representatives of business associations expressed their concern over being unable to access bank loans as banks are running out of credit growth quotas.

Utilising every opportunity to grow and overcome challenges

That is the message and guideline of Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung at the national conference on how to sustainably develop.

Outbound tours to Europe rocked by passport tangle

A number of Vietnamese outbound travel companies have already been affected by the decision of some European nations to not recognise Vietnam’s new passports.

Young people discover the universe via telescopes

Many young people have been spending time and money to buy telescopes and build rooftop observatories to admire the wonders of the universe.

Ample room remains for Vietnam’s exports to EU

There is still a lot of room for Vietnamese goods to expand their presence in the European Union (EU) market, but accessing its retail distribution systems is extremely important, heard a seminar in Ho Chi Minh City on August 11.

Vietnam yet rolls out Covid jabs for under-5s

Vietnam has yet planned to get younger kids aged under five vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH).

Vietnam to host Mekong Tourism Forum in October

Vietnam is scheduled to host the 2022 Mekong Tourism Forum, themed “Rebuild Tourism, Rebound with Resilience”, from October 9 – 14, the first in-person meeting of the six Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) destinations since the pandemic began in 2019.

Cryptocurrencies show high risks

Even though cryptocurrencies are not legally recognized in Vietnam, they have gradually become popular due to unlawful trading via specific platforms.

Pandemic-hit labourers continue to receive financial support

The Unemployment Insurance Fund plans to pay out 1.15 trillion VND (49.15 million USD) to support labourers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a resolution issued by the National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee.

Seven petroleum wholesalers’ licenses suspended

The Ministry of Industry and Trade suspended the operating licenses of seven key petroleum import and export businesses after inspecting 33 wholesalers in February this year.

President reduces death penalties to life sentences for 21 prisoners

President Nguyen Xuan Phuc on August 12 decided to reduce death penalties to life sentences for 21 prisoners, including two foreigners.