Aug 24, 2020 / 06:59

Norway envoy impressed with how Vietnam gov’t ensures people’s safety

The Hanoitimes - The Vietnamese government took a grip on the pandemic situation very quickly and shared information to let the people know what was going on, according to a Norwegian diplomat.

On the occasion of completing the first first year of her term at the Norwegian Embassy in Hanoi, Ms. Nina Gro Enger, Norwegian Chargé d'Affaires in Vietnam, shared with Hanoitimes her feelings about Hanoi and the fight against Covid-19 in Vietnam.

What are the most memorable things about your first year in Vietnam?

 Ms. Nina Gro Enger, Norwegian Chargé d'Affaires in Vietnam. Photo: Embassy of Norway

This month marks my first-year anniversary with the Embassy in Hanoi. I came from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Oslo where I was working in the section for UN politics with the campaign for Norway to be selected for a seat at the UN Security Council. Pridefully, I can announce that we won a seat. From next year, we will be sitting in the UN Security Council together with Vietnam which we are very proud of.

How do you feel about working in Vietnam at the time of the Covid-19 outbreak?

My husband and I chose to live here in the city – the French quarter, which is about five or six minutes away from the office. We live here because we want to have our daily life surrounded by Vietnamese people and culture. We are very happy living in this city with all the traffic, the people and the urban noise. 

Living here is so wonderful for us. I see lots of people enjoying their breakfast on the pavements, having their coffee and I start recognizing people. It is a very nice walk to the office. I feel very uplifted. This is an authentic, and still charming ancient city. Although many ancient capitals have changed, Hanoi still keeps its authentic sense of how it has been.

When we were hit by the first wave of Covid-19, everybody was confused, and unsecured about what it was and how to react and behave. Here in the Embassy, we started by taking all the measures like properly cleaning hands, disinfecting the office, using masks outside, trying to inform the local staff about the virus and how to prevent from being infected. We declared the Embassy as a virus-free area very quickly, so we did not wear masks inside. 

After a while, when the social distancing was implemented, we decided to split the Embassy into two teams: one team working from home in one week, the other team in the office then we switched. We realized that it was good for the local staff who had their children at home. The kids were off the school for weeks, so working from home was quite relieving for many of our local staff. They all worked efficiently and delivered on any kind of questions and topics. Therefore, we didn’t feel that we had to slow down our work at all. 

 A man walks past a souvenir store in Hanoi. Photo: AFP

Could you comment on Vietnam’s fight against Covid-19 so far? What has impressed you the most?

We experienced it when the government closed schools and non-essential businesses, implemented social distancing policy, asking tourists to leave the country. It was much quieter with schools and kindergartens being closed, there was less traffic, people stayed home. Sometimes it felt like a “ghost town” in some senses because there were few people and it changed the scenery around you. However, we tried to live and work as normal as possible.

I myself planned to travel around Vietnam this summer, instead of going back to Norway, but the next wave came and I have to wait until the pandemic is over or at least gets better.

I must say we are very impressed with how the Vietnamese government took actions. Very quickly, you took a grip on the situation and take people back to the home country, put them under quarantine. 

We are also impressed with the way they are informing and sharing information with the local people in Vietnam, making sure that everybody knows what is going on, the situation, the development of the spreading, all these things to make sure that their people are safe and feeling confident. 

Thank you very much!