Vietnam made fast and cautious response to Covid-19


Ever since 31 December 2019, when China alerted the World Health Organisation (WHO) of detecting many pneumonia-like cases in their port city of Wuhan, in the central Hubei Province, this infection has spread like wildfire across the globe, with all countries and territories across the world struggling to contain and control it from infecting the general population.

During the regular Government meeting in March 2020, the Prime Minister directed the top priority against the Covid-19 epidemic. Photo: VIET CHUNG

During the regular Government meeting in March 2020, the Prime Minister directed the top priority against the Covid-19 epidemic. Photo: VIET CHUNG

This unprecedented phenomenon has affected humans across all boundaries with an equal fury, and all mankind is using whatever resources at hand to wipe out this invisible enemy.

Europeans complacent in approach

In these last three months, China has made remarkable progress in containing the spread of this virus, termed by WHO as Covid-19. However, now the focus of the pandemic has shifted to Europe, where Italy and Spain are seeing a rising surge in the number of infected cases each day. People are beginning to question why the EU block of countries are finding it so difficult to control the spread of this deadly virus, even though it is clear to all that this virus will spare no one.

I think I have some answers to this situation, as I once used to live in Europe. The Europeans in general are very proud of their advanced lifestyle, their highly developed living standards with state-of-the-art medical facilities, and their generous social security system which they feel will be their support in any eventuality. The average European also feels invincible to the effects of dangerous diseases or infections, which they believe can only occur in poorer developing countries.

Their arrogance level is high in believing that their civilization is too well protected, their environment too clean, their air too fresh, and the food they eat of the best quality. They strongly believe that diseases and viral infections are only problems in the poorer and backward countries that have low living and health standards, have a high rate of pollution in the environment, have cramped living spaces in slums and along polluted canals, and sell produce in unhygienic markets.

This belief is so ingrained in the minds of a European that his conditioned mind does not allow him to be objective about this sudden phenomenon that has hit them and hence they continue to disregard the pleas of government authorities to stay indoors or maintain a distance from another human being. Even when media reports were warning of the virulent spread of Covid-19, most of the EU countries hardly responded and accepted it as another news article from a remote part of the globe. Measures to restrict tourists from travelling and banning large crowds from gathering in public places were met with indifference.

When authorities advised the wearing of masks, wearing of gloves, washing of hands, and self-isolating to avoid infecting other people, European people only responded with complacency. The government too, is being soft in its approach for fear that strong measures could affect the economy, in particular the very lucrative tourism industry, a vital source of revenue.

This subjective attitude of the people and complete disregard for the disease or the understanding of the seriousness of the infection has led to many large European economies into a situation that is now becoming even more difficult to control, with most of their resources under severe strain, and their facilities overloaded. The governments of all EU countries were late in responding, while their citizens believed that as taxpayers they need not take any action as their government would do what was necessary to protect them.

Most European countries did not mobilize their resources collectively to tackle the situation and it was not until 11 March when WHO declared that Covid-19 outbreak was now a pandemic, that European countries joined forces to cope with the crisis in each particular country.

Vietnam was proactive in response 

Like every other country in the world struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic, Vietnam is also monitoring its spread across the country since the outbreak started to spread across borders in early January. Vietnam moved fast and sensibly. Though the people are still fearful of the spread of this virus, the control measures put into place by the government have been effective in containing the pandemic, detecting newly found cases, and avoiding a panic among the people, who are still freely moving around to do their daily necessary chores, though with much restrain and limited to just essentials.

Right from the very start of the Covid-19 outbreak and spread from Wuhan in China, the Vietnamese Government viewed it with the seriousness that it deserved, and set about tackling all aspects of containing and controlling its spread within the country. The government put into place effective measures, and involved the participation of the entire political body, from the core centre to all local level authorities, any peoples organisations, from government to the citizens, all forces from the army, the police, the civil defense services, the socio-political organizations, as well as the media agencies, were all mobilized to follow just one directive, which was to "fight this pandemic like fighting an enemy at war", and “sacrifice all economic interests for the safety of the people”.

 This quick response, right awareness and unified action saved Vietnam from becoming a hotbed or an epicenter for the spread of the infection, even though Vietnam borders China, and unlike the European countries who have been dangerously complacent in their approach to this deadly virus. In the first few months, Vietnam only reported 16 cases, which successfully recovered, and subsequent cases were closely monitored.  Although now the number of cases has risen to over 150, the Government has put into effect more restrictions on foreigners entering the country. Nonetheless, the people remain calm and proactively are coping with the current situation, while waiting for normal times once again.

This crisis has also brought people together and our shared concern for a meaningful society with good community values. Sharing is a powerful social emotion, whether it is information or in material form. History has no record of a community of 10,000 people completely isolating themselves from the world, but for twenty days the Son Loi Commune in Binh Xuyen District in Vinh Phuc Province successfully isolated themselves to overcome this difficult time.

Across the country, in the last three months of the pandemic, many administrative units in wards, communes and apartments in Hanoi, Da Nang, Hai Phong, and Ho Chi Minh City have quarantined themselves quite successfully. The people not only distributed masks, safe drinking water, shrimp noodle packages, and eggs, but also kept each other motivated and in good cheer and informed of daily news on the spread of the disease, new Government measures and other best prevention methods.

Translated by Khoa Anh

Asso. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Minh Hoa

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