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May 05, 2020 / 08:15

Vietnam fulfills promise to remain a safe destination

Vietnam puts safety of its citizens and visitors the first and foremost, even at the cost of economic interest.

Vietnam has reopened the economy for ten days, including tourism sector, and restarted schools on May 4 after having initially contained the novel coronavirus, partly fulfilling the promise to make itself a safe destination for foreign visitors.

 Vietnam has done all the right things to protect its citizens and visitors' health. Photo: Vietnam Airlines

Vietnam made it clear at the beginning of the pandemic that it wanted to protect the people’s health and prioritize their well-being. For that reason, Vietnam wanted to secure its reputation as “a safe country.” Yet by being transparent with its people, the government has achieved more than just safeguarding its image; it has rebuilt public trust, according to The Guardian.

Indeed, the government of Vietnam has repeatedly stated that it will do anything to protect its citizens' health, even at the expense of economic benefits.

Dato’ Shariffah Norhana Syed Mustaffa, ambassador of Malaysia to Vietnam, said that Vietnam has prioritized the welfare and protection of its people’s health through decisive and essential measures in the fight against Covid-19.

“Vietnam is capable and experienced enough to control the epidemic, and considers the well-being of citizens the most important task,” Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc affirmed at a meeting in mid-March.

 A large number of foreign visitors find Vietnam safe amid the pandemic. Photo: AFP

Tough measures bear fruit

Vietnam has quarantined all visitors coming from and travelling across the epidemic-hit areas while it quickly suspended all flights from and to affected regions. The ensuing tougher move is to halt the entry of visitors from high-risk countries and the decisive move is to close borders from March 22 to all visitors.

Foreigners who undergo mass quarantine and coronavirus tests in Vietnam bear no charge while they were provided with best conditions. A large number of foreign visitors were brought to stay at hotels and resorts during the two-week quarantine period while a number of others were housed at military barracks with living standards for military officers.

Meanwhile, Gavin Wheeldon, a British citizen who has been in government-run quarantine in Hanoi, exclaimed that he feels more like a holiday camp than a quarantine center though he lives in an area under complete lockdown.

These creative messages have resonated with many living in lockdown. Vu Dinh Thai, a 25-year-old Vietnamese graduate student in the UK, spent nearly a month in the government’s quarantine camp told The Guardian that he was grateful for the safety he couldn’t be assured of in the UK. “It’s free and they tried their best,” “and who would belittle their country for being poor?”

 Vietnam is considered a destination for foreigners. Photo: Reuters

Mark A. Ashwill, an international educator who has been working in Vietnam since 2005, wrote on his blog, An International Educator in Vietnam, that foreigners who live and work in Vietnam should only fly home unless they absolutely had to for personal and/or professional reasons.

“It would be akin to jumping from the food warmer into the fire, in the case of the US and a long list of other countries with high coronavirus infection rates,” he said in response to Health and Travel Alert by US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo on March 31 in which the secretary urged US citizens interested in returning to the United States during the outbreak of Covid-19 to make immediate use of available commercial flight options.

The Tuoi Tre newspaper has quoted several foreigners who live in Vietnam as saying that they chose to stay in Vietnam rather than flying back to their countries.

They include Wayne Paris, an American in Ho Chi Minh City who canceled a flight home as he believed in the fight against the epidemic in Vietnam; British man David James who lives in the southern city of Can Tho said he felt absolutely safe in the country; and Patrick M Davies, a Briton who works as an English teacher in Ho Chi Minh City, said he would stay here until the pandemic ends and would fly home only when he was forced to.

 Vietnam tops countries for the number of coronavirus tests per confirmed cases. Photo: Ourworldindata

Vietnam is known for world-class famous beaches and a variety of tourism services from adventure tours in mountainous regions and inside caves to eco-tourism in coastal areas, from natural beauty to cultural relics.

At the end of last year, Vietnam was projected to welcome 20.5 million foreign arrivals in 2020, up 11% on-year, and earn revenues of VND830 trillion (US$36 billion), an increase of 11.43% from a year earlier.

At the time of writing, Vietnam has confirmed 271 coronavirus cases without deaths, compared to more than 17,000 cases in neighboring Singapore, more than 10,000 in Indonesia, 9,000 in the Philippines, more than 6,000 in Malaysia, and 3,000 in Thailand.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam who chairs the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control said Vietnam won the initial battle but not the entire war and warned the country of complexity of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said the country has initially contained the virus and told the people to adapt to a “new normalcy.”

Vietnam has planned to resume international flights that bring foreign visitors to the country but the timing is not decided yet.