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Dec 26, 2020 / 23:33

Key measures write Vietnam’s coronavirus success story

The successful story has enabled the country to pursue recovery plans and make it among few countries posting positive growth in 2020.

Vietnam has appeared one of few countries resume economic recovery plans thanks to its initial success in containing the novel coronavirus.

 Local residents wait for coronavirus testing in Hanoi, Vietnam in August 2020. Photo: Reuters

Analysts have believed that four essential measures that have helped Vietnam fight the virus effectively.

The analysis has supported by the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) whose mission is to save lives, reduce poverty, and protect the world against the threat of epidemics.

Quick strategic testing

When the first reports of Covid-19 infections came out of China, Vietnam immediately acted. Familiar with recent epidemics, such as SARS and H5N1, it closely monitored border areas to prevent the spread of the new virus.

When Covid-19 was later detected, it quarantined affected communities.

On January 11, after China reported the first coronavirus death, Vietnam implemented health checks at airports. All visitors had their body temperatures measured, and those with a fever, cough, chest pain or shortness of breath were isolated for testing.

Confirmed cases, fellow passengers and crewmembers, and all their contacts were quarantined for 14 days.

The Ministry of Health organized a meeting with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as early as January 15, weeks before many other countries even started strategizing. These combined efforts of quick action and effective testing helped slow the spread of the virus in its earliest stages.

Aggressive contact tracing

As the virus spread throughout the world, Vietnam enacted a mandatory 14-day quarantine for everyone arriving in the country and cancelled all international flights. People showing Covid-19 symptoms were closely monitored in medical facilities and their contacts were traced.

Using the Ministry of Health’s records of infected, suspected, and exposed cases of Covid-19, extensive contact tracing was possible thanks to “the rapid mobilization of health professionals, public security personnel, the military, and civil servants.”

Contact tracing was also successfully implemented with technology. A mobile app called NCOVI was developed by Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC). This lets the public update their health status daily. It also shares ‘hotspots’ of new cases and gives its user ‘best practices’ for staying healthy.

This was supported by an online reporting system, developed by the Ministry of Health, to monitor suspected and confirmed coronavirus cases. These combined efforts have ensured that new infections are reported and subsequently isolated.

Effective public communications campaigns

Vietnam did not shy away from broadcasting the seriousness of Covid-19. It even made a pop music video that went viral. Supported by the state, this video uses a catchy song to communicate the importance of hand washing. It is memorable, effective and has been enthusiastically shared with the rest of the world.

On March 19, Vietnam also launched a fundraising campaign to buy medical and protective equipment for people working closely with Covid-19 patients. By April 5, more than US$2.1 million donations had been mobilized via a text message platform.

Both of these public campaigns successfully raised awareness about the coronavirus pandemic, suppressing its spread.

Swift development of testing kits

Some reports claim Vietnam only has zero Covid-19 deaths because of insufficient testing being carried out. However, this is not the case. Not only did the country buy 200,000 tests from South Korea, but it’s quickly developed its own successful test kits.

The Vietnamese Covid-19 test kit was developed by scientists within a month. It is effective, affordable and fast, diagnosing suspected Covid-19 infections in just an hour. Using WHO-approved techniques, these test kits make it possible to isolate infected people and track down their contacts. Unlike other countries that rely on mass testing, in Vietnam, tests are only done on those likely to be infected.

These four factors are a crucial part of Vietnam’s Covid-19 success story. Time will tell if these measures continue to keep the number of people infected down, but it seems likely.

Vietnam proves that sometimes less is more, even during Covid-19.

At the time of writing, Vietnam, which shares a long border with China where the virus is believed to have originated, has confirmed 1,440 infections and 35 deaths.