How did Vietnam, a country that does not have an advanced healthcare system like many western countries, avoid one coronavirus death among its 97 million residents?
While attention is often paid to South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong for their collective mitigation efforts and keeping the number of reported confirmed incidents at a low number, Vietnam is a success story that’s easily overlooked.
In addition to no confirmed coronavirus deaths, Vietnam has reported only 328 confirmed cases at the time of this report.
Health experts say leaders in the Vietnam ignored the World Health Organization’s initial claims that there was evidence of human-to-human transmission and acted swiftly.
“We were not only waiting for guidelines from WHO. We used the data we gathered from outside and inside (the country to) decide to take action early,” said Pham Quang Thai, deputy head of the Infection Control Department at the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Hanoi.
After a three-week nationwide lockdown, Vietnam has lifted its social distancing rules in April and hasn’t reported any local infections for more than 40 days. Both businesses and schools have reopened and life has gradually returned to normal.
And while skeptics question the validity of the country’s numbers, Infectious Disease Doctor said the numbers are accurate.
“I go to the wards every day, I know the cases, I know there has been no death,” Guy Thwaites, who also heads the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Ho Chi Minh City, told CNN.
Here’s what experts say leaders Vietnam did right:
On February 1, Vietnam declared a national epidemic with only six confirmed cases. All flights between Vietnam and China were canceled.
Days later, leaders locked down an entire rural community of 10,000 people north of Hanoi for 20 days over seven coronavirus cases, known to be the first large-scale lockdown known outside China.
Over the course of the month of February, the travel restrictions, arrival quarantines, and visa suspensions and Vietnam eventually suspended entry to all foreigners in late March.
Authorities rigorously traced down the contacts of confirmed coronavirus patients and placed them in a mandatory two-week quarantine, according to a CNN report.
A confirmed coronavirus patient was required to give health authorities an exhaustive list of all the people he or she came in contact with in the past 14 days. Announcements were placed in newspapers and aired on television to inform the public of where and when a coronavirus patient has been so residents could go get tested.
The Vietnamese government communicated clearly with the public about the outbreak.
There were dedicated websites, telephone hotlines, and phone apps launched to update the public on the latest developments.