Vietnam considered a model in COVID-19 fight. (Photo: VOV)
Entitled “With zero pandemic deaths, Vietnam sets the standard for COVID-19 fight”, the newspaper noted that “The Vietnamese government cracked down on the coronavirus early with quarantines, contact tracing and savvy social-media campaigns to educate the public,” and “It’s been almost a month since the country’s lockdown lifted, and things are returning to normal”.
According to the article, "patient 91 is on life support in a hospital in Ho Chi Minh city, the financial centre of Vietnam, and saving him has become a national priority: If he doesn’t make it, the country can no longer claim that zero lives were lost in its campaign against COVID-19".
“The patient’s name has not been released. He is a British, 43-year-old Vietnam Airlines pilot who picked up the disease at the Buddha Bar and Grill in HCMC (formerly Saigon) on March 14, along with more than a dozen others. Four days later, he tested positive and was admitted to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases,” the article said.
The article confirmed that even if the British pilot did not make it, “Vietnam’s virus-fighting record will stand out as a remarkable, perhaps unique, achievement”. It quoted calculations that as of May 26th, Vietnam had reported only 327 confirmed cases – about three per million in a population of 97 million. “The comparative figure in Italy is 3,822 per million, while in Canada it is 2,320 and in the United States 5,247, according to official national data,” the article’s author quoted figures.
Asserting that Vietnam’s success was no accident, the article explained that “its 1,450-kilometre border with China and frequent visitors from Wuhan (China), the site of the original outbreak in December and January, meant that Vietnam could have been overrun with cases. But it acted fast and did not wait for official warnings from the World Health Organization (WHO) before it closed its borders, locked down its economy and launched mass testing, tracing and quarantine measures.”
The article quoted Guy Thwaites, a professor of infectious diseases and the director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam, saying that the country “swung into action early because it was well aware of the dangers of unchecked infectious diseases. In the past 20 years, it has suffered from outbreaks of SARS, avian influenza, measles, dengue fever and hand-foot-and-mouth disease, which attacks young children.”
“The Vietnamese are very respectful of the threat of infectious diseases and know they have to be treated early,” Guy Thwaites said. “They were well prepared. Europe and North America seem to have forgotten about infectious diseases.”
The article asserted that although WHO did not declare a pandemic until March 11th, “Vietnam had effectively declared its own emergency and was already clamping down,” adding that on January 3rd, the day before the WHO said there was a cluster of cases - but no deaths - in Wuhan, Vietnam announced some border control measures. “On January 22nd, health authorities began monitoring body temperatures at border gates and started detection and contact tracing, with orders for the mandatory isolation of infected people and anyone they had come into contact with.”
According to the article, by late January, 22 hospitals had been chosen to treat COVID-19 patients. Schools and universities were closed. In early February, all flights from China were stopped. By the end of the month, travellers entering Vietnam from any country with infections went into 14-day quarantine. In late March, the Vietnamese Government began locking down the economy, and it stayed shut until April 23rd; quoting a new academic report saying that the tracing and quarantine measures were “especially effective given nearly half of those infected did not develop symptoms.”
A new academic report on Vietnam’s response to the pandemic, written by Prof. Thwaites and about 20 doctors and scientists, concluded that the early lockdown plus the extensive testing, contact tracing and mandatory quarantines for people who had come into contact with anyone who had tested positive were behind Vietnam’s success in preventing COVID-19 deaths. It said the tracing and quarantine measures were “especially effective given [that] nearly half of those infected did not develop symptoms.”
By the beginning of May, more than 200,000 people had been put into quarantine in government buildings, military camps, hotels or at home, the article noted./.