Despite Vietnam’s closeness to China in terms of borders and trade, it was ranked 2nd after New Zealand for successfully battling the transmission of coronavirus. Vietnam’s proactive approach in the initial detection of the virus helped in containing the spread. As per March 11, 2021 reports, Vietnam has recorded a total of 2529 positive cases, which is roughly 26 cases in 1 million population when compared to the global range of 15,223 cases. Vietnam has implemented the low-cost model technique that gives more weightage to the Tactful HealthCare System, Decisive Governance, and Public Co-Operation to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the first case of COVID-19 was reported on January 23, 2020, within a week, Vietnam formed a “Whole of Government” strategy where strict lockdowns of the close regions, isolation of patients, quarantine camps for 14 days, and wide screening of the suspected people were conducted on a larger scale. The healthcare system was quick in tracing new COVID cases by conducting at 4 levels strategically: Centre, Province, District, and Local. Vietnam imposed a compulsory 14-day quarantine on all Foreign Nationals and locals and even limiting trade activities.
Past Lessons Implementation
The reason Vietnam was able to take a swift and over-reactive approach with the onset of the virus was because the country had experienced the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic in 2003. WHO declared Vietnam as the first country to be SARS-free by taking quick steps to keep the count low. The country even effectively combated human cases of avian influenza from 2004 to 2010. Vietnam had epidemic preparedness with modern robust healthcare infused with technology.
Post-SARS episode, Vietnam has made huge investments in developing public health infrastructure, emergency public health centers, and a national public health surveillance system. There are massive systems that are required to collect and store public data in a real-time web-based system since 2009. From 2016, hospitals are supposed to immediately report epidemic-related illnesses and symptoms within 24 hrs to the central database, which helps the Ministry of Health track and monitor the disease throughout the country. This helps in determining the clusters of individuals who have similar symptoms and the possibility of an outbreak of the pandemic chain can be broken in the initial stage itself.
Vietnam’s Success Battle against COVID-19
- Vietnam was able to provide immediate healthcare treatment to the infected people because of the past healthcare investment and surveillance system adopted after the SARS epidemic.
- The early response was taken by implementing masks, sanitizers, border shutdowns, and lockdowns to curb community spread quickly.
- Contact tracing helped in having a strategy for the target spread of the infection.
- Compulsory testing and quarantining of foreign travelers were some of the effective steps taken.
- Effective communication, guidance, and preventive measures were made accessible through Apps specifically created for COVID-19, Social Media tips from experts, and emergency healthcare helpline numbers.
Despite facing economic losses due to strict lockdowns and border restrictions, Vietnam has managed to sustain a stable economy and low inflation rate helping the public, investors, and businesses to keep the momentum going. The government had taken initiative to provide assistance packages to support employees and even provided 62 trillion dongs ($2.7 Billion) aid to 20 million workers. The government was having a smart and strategic approach in handling the economy by removing the barriers for production and businesses. Like Reorganizing Bank Loans, Exemption of payments for interest loans (shorter period), and freezing of debts. All these steps helped Vietnam in achieving a GDP growth of 4-5% in 2020.
Vietnam’s victory against battling COVID -19 can be attributed to past strategic experience, Government’s proactive readiness, and cooperation among the public to battle against the pandemic as one unit.