Apr 24, 2020 / 13:34

Vietnam takes a proactive approach to combat Covid-19: Foreign envoys

The Hanoitimes - Foreign ambassadors to Vietnam share their comments with Hanoitimes on what the Vietnamese government has done and cooperated with other foreign diplomatic corps in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

US ambassador to Vietnam: Vietnam has been proactive, cooperative and transparent

 US Ambassador to Vietnam Dan Kritenbrink speaks at Hanoi University in November 2018. Photo: Minh Tuan/Hanoitimes

Vietnam has done an outstanding job in leading the Covid-19 response and has been proactive, cooperative, and transparent. From the very beginning, Vietnam took a proactive approach, with nationwide efforts to identify all cases, locate and quarantine contacts, provide the necessary laboratory testing, engage the community, provide timely information to the public, and draw on dedicated human and physical resources in both the hospital and clinical settings, and in the public health fieldwork for effective response. These efforts have paid off, with substantial control and limited disease impact even more than three months into the epidemic.  

Many countries, including the US, have imposed travel restrictions both to protect their own citizens and to slow the spread of the virus around the world. ‎ We respect the right of every country to take such actions and we appreciate Vietnam’s adoption of strong and effective measures to ensure the health and safety of its citizens and all residents of Vietnam.

What has the embassy been doing to protect citizens in Vietnam so far?

The US Mission to Vietnam has no higher priority than the welfare and safety of US citizens abroad. Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, the US Mission to Vietnam is working tirelessly to provide US travelers with timely, accurate information regarding this rapidly evolving situation. We use a wide range of tools, including Travel Advisories and Alerts, to communicate clear, timely, and reliable safety and security information that helps US citizens make informed decisions about travel overseas. 

We have issued numerous Travel Advisories and Alerts in recent weeks to advise US citizen travelers on conditions in different countries. The US Mission website has a page dedicated to providing the latest information on the Covid-19 situation in Vietnam. We will continue to update this website frequently, and encourage US citizens to read our latest travel advisories in their entirety and to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive further updates.

Ambassador of Norway to Vietnam: Impressed with what the Vietnamese government has done so far

 Ambassador of Norway to Vietnam Grete Løchen. Photo: Embassy of Norway in Hanoi

I am very impressed with what the Vietnamese government has done so far in combating the coronavirus.

From the early stage, Vietnam has proactively taken strong actions to isolate and prevent the virus from spreading through information campaigns about the importance of keeping high hygiene standards and through administrative measures regarding tracing and testing of infected people as well as individuals who have been in contact with them. These measures seem to be effective as up to now Vietnam is among the three countries that have more than 200 patients but no fatalities due to the pandemic.

Not only the health professionals and caregivers who work day and night to save people’s lives, but the whole government of Vietnam seems to make every effort to control the pandemic and to support the affected people and businesses in the spirit of “leave no one behind”. As Chair of ASEAN, Vietnam has also been active in sharing information and encouraging cooperation regarding Covid-19 with the regional bloc.

The government tries to keep people updated about the situation in a timely and transparent manner through different channels such as TV, newspapers and social media like Facebook and Twitter. It seems that the adopted measures have received strong support from the people. Social solidarity is important and in challenging circumstances like now, it becomes even more important.

We do have the same experience in Norway. Timely, accurate and transparent information sharing from the political leadership and the professional health authorities as well as showing international solidarity with developing countries has been key in getting the trust of the Norwegian people in the joint efforts of combating Covid-19. This is about our common future.

Assisting Norwegians in Vietnam, particularly at a crisis situation like this, is one of the embassy’s day-to-day tasks. The embassy has increased its consular capacity and services which have been our number one priority these days. So far, we have been working closely with the Vietnamese authorities and following government news sources to get updated information about entry/exit procedures which might affect Norwegian citizens in Vietnam. All information has been timely shared on our social media platforms as well as with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Oslo.

The ministry has set up different task forces due to the Covid-19 outbreak in order to most effectively assist Norwegians abroad. We have been able to share information, assist and facilitate travel back to Norway for quite a large number of Norwegians in need of assistance in Vietnam and Laos.

Ambassador of Italy to Vietnam: Hopes for soon reactivation of travel and trade 

 Ambassador of Italy to Vietnam Antonio Alessandro. Photo: Embassy of Italy in Hanoi

“The Vietnamese authorities have reacted very well so far, since the very beginning of the epidemic. Although the number of cases is limited compared with the rest of the world, the government has introduced drastic preventive measures such as the suspension of entry for all foreigners, a strict traceability of the potential infected and the compulsory social distancing for the resident population. These measures have proved to be very effective, as confirmed by the WHO and several international experts.

Their success is also due to the Vietnamese people who have strictly followed the instructions and have given priority to public health. This included Italian nationals, who strictly abide by the Vietnamese measures for their own safety and for the collective efforts in containing the pandemic. The experience of SARS in 2003 and the lessons learned on that occasion have also helped Vietnam in preparing an effective response.

Italy was the first country in Europe to be hit by the epidemic. At the end of February, Vietnam introduced the compulsory quarantine for travelers coming from Italy and a few days later suspended the visa waiver for Italian citizens. It became clear soon, however, that because of the free movement of people in Europe, restrictions on a single country could not work, so in mid-March the same measures were introduced to all Schengen countries.

I hope for an end of the epidemic soon in order to allow for a reactivation of travels. The people-to-people exchanges are extremely useful and this prolonged suspension might affect the relations between Europe and Vietnam, especially at this juncture when the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement is coming to force.

Meanwhile, it is of paramount importance that goods and services can continue to move freely, as both Vietnam and Italy rely strongly on foreign trade.    

The Italian Embassy has made an accurate recognition of Italian citizens in Vietnam. Approximately 1,000 Italian nationals are long-term residents in Vietnam. One hundred and fifty people are either tourists or short-term visa holders. Some of them have been repatriated to Italy thanks to some special flights supported by the European Union.