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COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam

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COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam
Vọng Ba Lâu 2, Hà Nội 001.jpg
Vietnam VPA chemical troop before disinfecting Bach Mai Hospital.jpg
Vietnam policeman wearing mask for people.png
Vietnamese registered for rapid testing (COVID-19).png
Clockwise, from top: Restaurant closed during nationwide isolation; a policeman putting mask on person in Soc Trang City; wholesale market retailers and buyers registering for COVID-19 rapid testing in Lĩnh Nam, Hanoi; PAVN chemical troops start disinfecting Bach Mai Hospital - the largest cluster in the country.
COVID-19 Pandemic Cases in Vietnam.svg
Map of cities & provinces with confirmed COVID-19 cases (as of 4 March 2021):
  Confirmed 1–9
  Confirmed 10-99
  Confirmed 100-499
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
First caseHo Chi Minh City
Arrival date23 January 2020
(1 year, 1 month, 1 week and 2 days)
OriginWuhan, Hubei, China
Confirmed cases417[1][2]
Active cases52[1]
Suspected cases858[1]
Official website
Suspected cases have not been confirmed as being due to this strain by laboratory tests, although some other strains may have been ruled out.

The COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam is part of the ongoing worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). On 23 January 2020, the first known case of COVID-19 in Vietnam was reported.[2][3] As of 25 July 2020, the country had 417 confirmed cases, 365 recoveries, and no deaths. More than 400,000 tests have been performed.[4] Hanoi, as of July is the most-affected city with 121 confirmed cases.[1]

Vietnam has suspended the entry of all foreigners from 22 March 2020 until further notice to limit the spread of COVID-19. The measure will not apply to diplomats, officials, foreign investors, experts, and skilled workers. For foreigners that entered the country before 1 March including those with temporary residence permits will also be entitled to extensions till 30 June but must present health declarations.[5]

Vietnam is cited by global media as having one of the best-organised epidemic control programs in the world,[6][7] along the lines of other highlights such as Taiwan and South Korea.[8] Several figures have praised Vietnam's response, comparing it to the success in 2003 when Vietnam became the first country to be cleared of the SARS outbreak.[8] Despite inferior economic and technological capacities, the country's response to the outbreak has received acclaim for its immediacy, effectiveness and transparency, in contrast to the alleged cover-up in China, and the poor preparation in the United States and in European countries.[8][9][10][11]

Background[edit source | edit]

On 12 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, which was reported to the WHO on 31 December 2019.[12][13]

The case fatality ratio for COVID-19 has been much lower than SARS of 2003,[14][15] but the transmission has been significantly greater, with a significant total death toll.[16][14]

Timeline[edit source | edit]

Template:COVID-19 pandemic data/Vietnam medical cases chart

Overview[edit source | edit]

The first two confirmed cases in Vietnam were admitted to Cho Ray Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City on 23 January 2020, is a 66-year-old Chinese man traveling from epicenter Wuhan to Hanoi to visit his son and his son who believed to have contracted the virus from his father when they met in Nha Trang.[17] The first cluster also appeared in Son Loi Commune, Bình Xuyên District, Vĩnh Phúc after few workers returning from a business trip in Wuhan and infected other people in close contact with them.[18] The Vietnamese government immediately locked down Bình Xuyên District until 4 March 2020 to prevent the disease spread all over the country. Having cases early is one of the main reasons why Vietnam successful in fighting the virus, in the first 16 cases of the disease, the medical staff had to treat many types of patient, including infants, the elderly and people with underlying conditions. This is like "an exercises" for the Vietnam medical system to study the new virus and prepare for the second wave.[19] [20]

The second wave started from the evening of 6 March, Hanoi Department of Health confirmed the first case in the capital, a 26-year-old woman who travelled through Italy, France and England. This is the 17th case in Vietnam.[21] On the afternoon of 20 March, the Ministry of Health announced 2 patients of COVID-19, 86th and 87th, were two female nurses at Bach Mai Hospital have no history of contact with any COVID-19 patients.[22] In March and April 2020, the number of cases increased rapidly due to the large number of people coming from European countries and the appearance of clusters such as Bach Mai Hospital, Ha Loi Commune in Hanoi and Buddha Bar in Ho Chi Minh City.[23][24][25]

On 21 March, Vietnam suspended entry for all foreigners from midnight of 22 March, and concentrated isolation for 14 days in all cases of entry for Vietnamese citizens.[26] From 1 April, Vietnam implemented nationwide isolation for 15 days.[27] On the same day, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc announced the nationwide outbreak of COVID-19.[28] The drastic epidemic control measures have had positive results since the country not confirmed any local transmission cases for more than three months and the country is already starting to open up.[29][30]

First wave[edit source | edit]

January[edit source | edit]

On 23 January, Vietnam confirmed the first two cases of COVID-19.[31] Vietnam Ministry of Health issued two hotline numbers for information on coronavirus disease, and advised citizens to contact nearest healthcare center if suspecting symptoms.[31] On 24 January, Acting Minister of Health Vũ Đức Đam ordered the activation of the Emergency Epidemic Prevention Centre.[32] Vietnamese doctors documented and reported the two cases to medical journal The New England Journal of Medicine, at that time this was the first concrete evidence to the scientific community about human-to-human transmission of the disease outside China.[33][34] On 29 January, the son fully recovered and was discharged.[35] His father was discharged on 12 February.[33]

On 29 January, the Ministry of Health established 40 mobile emergency response teams, on stand-by to assist affected locations, for quarantine, disinfection, and transporting patients or suspecting patients.[36] A week after the first two cases, three positive cases were confirmed by the Ministry of Health, involving Vietnamese nationals who had returned from Wuhan. Case No. 3 (25-yr-old female) was quarantined and cured in Thanh Hóa Province, while the other two cases (#4: 29-yr-old male; #5: 23-yr-old female) are hospitalised in Hanoi.[37][38] Case No. 5 was discharged on 3 February, fully recovered and tested negative with the virus.[39]

February[edit source | edit]

Vietnamese panic buying instant noodles in supermarket during the pandemic.

On 1 February, a 25-year-old woman (#6) was declared coronavirus-positive in Khánh Hòa Province. She has worked as a receptionist and had direct contact with the Chinese father and son (cases #1–2).[40] This case was discharged from the hospital on 4 February.[41] Noticeably, this case was the first domestic transmission in Vietnam, leading to an epidemic declaration signed by the Vietnamese Prime Minister and calls for border tightening, aviation permits revoked, and visa restriction.[42][43][44][45]

On 2 February, a Vietnamese American (#7) got infected with coronavirus, due to two-hour layover in Wuhan airport during his trip from the US.[46]

On 3–4 February, Vietnam announced their eighth and ninth case: a 29-year-old female (#8) and a 30-year-old male (#9). They belonged to the same training team with the previous confirmed cases of three (cases #3-through-5).[47][48]

Later on 4 February, the 10th case was identified. A 42-year-old female met and greeted with the case No. 5 during Lunar New Year holiday.[49] Mother (49-year-old, #11) and younger sister (16-year-old, #12) of the case No. 5 were also transmitted on 6 February.[50]

On 7 February, Vietnam confirmed their 13th case, a 29-year-old worker, a member of the same training crew as the 5 previously confirmed cases (case #3,4,5,8,9).[51]

Earlier of the same day, Vietnam declared to have successfully cultured and isolated the virus in the lab, one of the early countries to do this, along with Singapore, Australia, Japan and China.[52]

On 9 February, a 55-year-old woman, a neighbour of case No. 5, tested positive; the 14th case.[53]

On 10 February, three more cases: #4, #5 and #9 were declared to be recovered.[54]

The 15th case was identified on 11 February, a 3-month-old grandchild of case No. 10.[55]

Case No. 15 also marked the 10th case found in Vinh Phuc and prompted Vinh Phuc province leadership to implement quarantine of the at-risk village named Son Loi with more than 10,600 people, activating mobile food shops and handing out free masks to all villagers, in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.[56] 10,600 villagers were divided into groups of 50–60 households each, each group assigned to a supervision team responsible for daily household visits and health-checks. The quarantine of Son Loi village was scheduled to last 14 days.[57]

On 13 February, father of case No. 5 was tested positive, making the number of cases in Vietnam 16.[58]

On 25 February, the 16th was released from the hospital after being tested negative from the COVID-19, temporarily made Vietnam cleared from COVID-19 outbreak.[59] However, quarantine measures continue to be imposed until further notice.[60]

On 3 March, after 20 days without new case of coronavirus, Son Loi village was approved to remove quarantine.[61]

Second wave[edit source | edit]

March[edit source | edit]

CGV Cinema temporarily closed at Hanoi Times City in March 2020.
A quarantine area in Vietnam during COVID-19

On 6 March night, Hanoi urgently announced a new case of coronavirus, the first one found in the capital of Vietnam. The patient (case #17), a 26-year-old woman, had been travelling across Europe during the outbreak. She had been exhibiting several symptoms, but didn't notify the authorities about her travel history or health conditions.[62] Within the night, the government proceeded to track and isolate roughly 200 people who either had close contact, lived on the same street, or had been on the same flight VN0054 from London as patient No. 17.[63][64] The incident also sparked a wave of stockpiling purchases across the city.[65]

On 7 March afternoon, a 27-year-old Vietnamese was diagnosed with COVID-19 and moved into quarantine in Ninh Bình Province for treatment, making this the 18th case. This patient had previously been in Daegu for several days in February and, prior to testing positive, had already been quarantined – along with all passengers on the same flight from South Korea – since he re-entered Vietnam.[66] Just 2 hours later, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health confirmed 2 more cases (#19-#20) in Hanoi, both related to the 17th case.[67] The same day, Hanoi city expanded the scope of contact tracing to F5 and raised the quarantine procedures by one level, meaning F1 to be quarantined in hospitals and treated the same as a patient case, F2-F3 to be moved into central quarantine, and F4-F5 to self-quarantine at home, with temperature checked twice per day.[67]

On 8 March, another case in Hanoi was announced, which was a 61-year-old man.[68] Later this day, 9 more cases was announced, with 4 cases in Quảng Ninh, 2 cases in Lào Cai, 2 cases in Đà Nẵng and 1 case in Thừa Thiên – Huế. All ten cases (#21-#30) were foreigners tracked from the same flight into Vietnam with case No. 17.[69]

On 9 March evening, a 49-year-old British man was tested positive (case #31) and put into quarantine in Quảng Nam Province, previously on the same flight with patient number 17.[70]

On 10 March, a 24-year-old Vietnamese woman who had just returned from England and previously had close contact with case No. 17 while in London, tested positive (case #32). She had flown back to Vietnam in a private jet with quarantined cabin – after becoming aware that case No. 17 was infected – to seek healthcare in her home country.[71] Later that day, another British man was found infected with the virus (case #33), who was on the same flight with case No. 17.[72] Before the end of the day, the 34th case was identified, a 51-year-old businesswoman who had visited the United States, with a brief transit in Korea and Qatar during the trip.[73]

On 11 March, Vietnam confirmed their 35th case of COVID-19, a 29-year-old woman who works in an electronics supermarket in Da Nang, and had physical contact with two infected British tourists.[74] Within the same day, 3 more case were discovered (#36-#38), all are related to patient number 34.[75]

On 12 March morning, Vietnamese Ministry of Health reported the 39th case of the country. This case is a 29-year-old tour guide in Hanoi, who had contact with patient number 24 during a trip to Ninh Binh.[76] Evening of the same day, five more cases were announced (#40-#44), all are related to patient number 34.[77]

On 13 March three more cases (numbers 45 to 47) were announced, related to case No. 34, case No. 17, and the flight VN0054 from London.[78][79]

On 14 March 6 cases were announced (numbers 48 to 53). Aside from cases related to flight VN0054 and patient 34, there are 3 unrelated cases: A Vietnamese came back from Paris, a Vietnamese overseas student who has been travelling across Europe, and a Czech national.[80]

On 16 March, a new case was reported in Vietnam, known as the 61st patient. The patient, a Muslim from the Cham minority, had participated in the Tablighi Jamaat in Sri Petaling mosque, Malaysia, where he got infected before returning to Vietnam and attended the Jamiul Muslimin Mosque in Ho Chi Minh City before returning home in Ninh Thuận. Due to the wide range of people he contacted, it raised the fear of the patient being a super spread patient. Eventually, the Vietnamese authorities decided to isolate and quarantine the whole province, as well as shut the mosque.[81][82][83] Subsequently, a new-found case connected with the man were also discovered the following days.[84] On 22 March, another case also related to the Islamic activities is a fellow Muslim who returned from Malaysia also attended in the same Sri Petaling mosque, before went back to Vietnam and still did Islamic praying five times a day in Jamiul Anwar mosque, despite being asked to quarantine at home.[85]

On 22 March, Vietnam recorded over fourteen new patients, surpassing over 100 patients for the first time. Many returned from various countries, including Britain, Malaysia, and France; which were at the time severely hit by coronavirus.[86]

On 26 March 12 more cases were confirmed.[87]

April[edit source | edit]

Doctor taking blood sample for COVID-19 rapid testing at Hoang Mai Market, Hanoi.

From 17 to 23 April, no new cases were confirmed.[88][89] However, there were reports of cases who tested positive again after being discharged.[90][91] On 22 April, People's Committee of Đồng Văn District decided to lockdown Dong Van town for six days after confirmed the first cases in the province on 16 April.[92]

On 24 April, two more cases were confirmed: both were Vietnamese students who came back from Japan and quarantined on arrival.[93]

May[edit source | edit]

A previously discharged patient in Hà Nam was pronounced dead on 4 May, later confirmed to have died from liver failure and not COVID-19. The patient had previously gone to the hospital on 20 March to treat last stage of liver disease, before testing positive for COVID-19 on 7 April. He received treatment for it and was subsequently discharged on 17 April after testing four times negative from coronavirus.[94][95]

On 15 May, Vietnam confirmed 24 new cases, all of them from a repatriating flight from Russia and quarantined after arrival in Thai Binh and Quang Ninh, raising the total number of COVID-19 cases to 312.[96]

On 29 May, after a long period without any confirmed cases of local transmission, Vietnam Airlines announced that it had completely restored its domestic flights after months under lockdown; international flights, however, remain suspended.[97]

June[edit source | edit]

On 25 June, a flight from Japan to Vietnam took off from Narita International Airport; this was the first flight since the two countries agreed to ease travel restrictions which were imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More flights to Vietnam are scheduled in the coming months by other countries.[98][99]

July[edit source | edit]

Da Nang C Hospital, after detecting the patient positive with COVID-19 visited there, the authorities decided to quarantined the hospital with everyone inside it for at least 14 days.

On 6 July, a group of doctors who had been overseeing the treatment of “Patient 91”, a British pilot who was Vietnam’s most critical COVID-19 case, announced that he “has made substantial progress and his health condition allows him to travel”. The patient was discharged from Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City few days later.[100]

Since late March, nearly 16,000 Vietnamese people have been flown back to the country on 60 repatriation flights from various parts of the world. On 13 July, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc allowed the resumption of commercial flights to and from China after five months of shutdown of international flights to control COVID-19.[101][102]

As of July, Vietnam had gone more than three months without new COVID-19 cases from local transmission. All recent cases were people who had been infected abroad and who had been placed in government quarantine facilities after arrival in Vietnam.[103]

On 22 July, a 57-year-old man went to Da Nang C Hospital coughing and feeling tired. After diagnosing him with pneumonia, the doctors took samples for testing for COVID-19, and got a positive result. His samples were sent to the Pasteur Institute in Nha Trang and to the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Hanoi for more tests and the results also came back positive.[104]

The night of 23 July, the Da Nang Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Da Nang CDC) took samples from more than 100 people thought to have been in contact with the man during the previous days, including his family members, and all of them tested negative. More than 50 people who had been in contact with the suspected patient at the Da Nang C Hospital were quarantined immediately and the hospital was locked down the next day. In the afternoon of 24 July, the man suspected of being infected with COVID-19 was suffering from acute and severe pneumonia and had to support by ECMO. The Ministry of Health determined that the possibility this is a positive case is very high. The Deputy Director of the Da Nang Department of Health said the patient is being treated at the Da Nang Hospital Department of Tropical Medicine.[105]

On the same day, the Vietnamese Acting Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long ordered the city authorities to suspends all international flights at Da Nang International Airport.[106] The ministry rolled out all necessary countermeasures and immediately sent a group of doctors from Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang to assist with the case. Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam, head of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, urged all competent forces to remain vigilant and stand ready to deal with new developments of the pandemic.[107]

On 25 July, the Ministry of Health confirmed the case in Da Nang, this ended 99 continous days Vietnam not confirmed any local transmission cases.[108][109]

Medical responses[edit source | edit]

Drug therapy and vaccine development[edit source | edit]

For further information, see COVID-19 vaccine
SARS-CoV-2 viruses under microscope. These are isolated from a patient in the U.S.

On 7 February 2020, the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Hanoi announced that it had successfully cultured and isolated the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in the lab, the fourth country to do so. The achievement would allow quicker test results for nCoV, meaning thousands of samples could be tested a day, said the institute.[110] It would also serve as a basis for the development of a vaccine against the virus. Assoc. Prof., Dr. Le Quynh Mai, Deputy Director of National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, said the virus causing COVID-19 has evolved into many branches. Three branches have been recorded in the world. Vietnam recorded and isolated two different virus branches, one from patients returning from Wuhan in February and the other from patients returning from Europe in March.[111][112]

In May 2020, Vietnam declared that their COVID-19 vaccine was developed after scientists successfully generated the novel coronavirus antigen in the lab. The vaccine has been developed by collaborating scientists at VABIOTECH in Hanoi and the Bristol University, it will be tested further in animals and evaluated for safety and effectiveness before a manufacturing process is embarked on. According to the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, it will take at least 12-18 months to develop vaccine that can work safely on human.[113][114] During the testing phase, researchers experimented by injecting the mice in many ways and administering multiple antigen doses, with some mice injected with one or two doses of 3-10 micrograms each. After 10 days, 50 mice were in good health and being closely monitored for immune responses. After gaining positive results with immune response and antibody production, the trial vaccine would be developed into a complete and stable version qualified to be used on humans. The research team would also develop commercial production procedures for mass-production, including up to tens of millions of units.[115][116]

Treatment[edit source | edit]

From the experiences gained from the SARS outbreak in 2003, Vietnam has been proactive in treating COVID-19 patients. Accordingly, the key method is to create a well-ventilated environment, do not use air conditioning and regularly disinfect. In addition, the treatment of clinical symptoms combined with physiotherapy and appropriate nutrition and psychological stability also greatly contributes.[117][118]

According to the Vietnam Ministry of Health, specific antiretroviral therapy will also be considered when sufficient evidence of effectiveness is available. To leave the hospital, patients need to have two consecutive negative samples of COVID-19 (both pharyngeal and pharyngeal fluid), taken at least 24 hours/test. After leaving the hospital, the patient must continue to isolate at home for another 14 days. The patient should be in a well-ventilated private room wearing mask, washing hand everyday, limiting contact with other family members and not to go out. Monitor body temperature twice per day, check again immediately if fever or other abnormal signs. The method of extracting plasma from cured people to treat severe patients is also being considered.[119][120]

Relapse[edit source | edit]

Loading sample into PCR machine for COVID-19 testing.

Many COVID-19 cases in Vietnam have reported positive tests after they were deemed to have recovered from the disease. This also happened in other countries such as United States, South Korea and China. Dr. Oh Myoung-don, head of South Korea Central Clinical Committee for Emerging Disease Control rejected the possibility of "reinfection", assuming that the patients who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus, most likely due to "the testing kit collected RNA from the dead virus fragments, these may remain in the body for months".[121][122]

Vietnam Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long also agreed with the above opinion, saying that maybe the patient has not fully recovered during the treatment process so the virus has not been completely eliminated and still exists in the body, especially in lung mucous cells.[123] According to Dr. Gao Yan, director of Department of Infectious Disease at Peking University People's Hospital, these patients are less likely to spread the disease.[124]

Testing kit[edit source | edit]

As of 18 March 2020, Vietnam has produced at least two sets of COVID-19 test kits. On 3 March, leader of the research team - Assoc. Prof. Dong Van Quyen, Deputy Director of the Institute of Biotechnology, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, announced that they are completed the research and development of the SARS-CoV-2 detection kit, based on RT-PCR and realtime RT-PCR. Two days later, the Vietnam Ministry of Science and Technology has announced the result of researching and manufacturing biological kit to detect novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) conducted by Military Medical Academy and Viet A Technology JSC.[125]

The kit has been tested for sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, and repeatability at the lab of Viet A Technology JSC. and Vietnam Military Medical Academy. The results show that the criteria are equivalent to the kit produced by the CDC and the World Health Organization. Independent testing at the Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, evaluating on patient samples, compatible with 5 types of common devices in medical facilities in the country, gives 100% accurate results in all of the test. The kit detection time is about 2 hours.[126][127]

After being licensed by the Vietnam Ministry of Health, 20 countries have ordered the test kit. The first four countries to be received are Malaysia, Iran, Finland and Ukraine, as of 17 March 2020.[128]

Government responses[edit source | edit]

Coronavirus pandemic phases in Vietnam[129][130]
Stage Cases Description
Phase 1 (23 January – 25 February 2020) 16 Cases reported are usually people who have had travel history to China.
Phase 2 (6 – 19 March 2020) 69 The virus has spread globally, many cases reported are from other countries but it is still easy to trace spread and quarantine.
Phase 3 (20 March – 21 April 2020) 183 Infections in community, many cluster begin to appear in high-density areas. The source of the infection is untraceable.
Phase 4 (22 April 2020 – ongoing) 149 Even after the consistently decreasing rate of cases from community transmission, health officials remain cautious for importing a second wave through international travelers.
On 16 March 2020, the Vietnamese government required everyone to wear masks when going to public areas to protect themselves and others.[131]
After the Vietnamese government ordered a nationwide isolation, many public areas such as schools and restaurants had to be closed until 15 April 2020.[132]

Vietnam has prepared for the epidemic as early as the very first case in China emerged, around mid-December 2019. Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc ordered measures to prevent and counter the spread of the disease into Vietnam,[133] as well as to warn Vietnamese citizens to avoid visiting areas with outbreaks.[134] Deputy Minister Đỗ Xuân Tuyên said that Vietnam is considering closing the border with China as a necessary countermeasure.[135] According to Kidong Park, World Health Organization representative to Vietnam, the first risk assessment exercise was conducted by the Vietnamese in early January - soon after cases in China started being reported.[7] On 24 January, two days after the first cases, the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam ordered the cancellation of all flights from and to Wuhan.[136][137] On 31 January, infectious disease expert Nguyễn Thanh Long was appointed as deputy Minister of Health and later as Minister of Health, he served as one of the main government advisors regarding the pandemic.[138]

In February 2020, Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training suspended all school activities across the country until the end of March as part of quarantine measures against the spreading of the virus, and later extended this till the middle of April until further notice.[139] Aggressive measures were also taken to combat possible outbreaks, from 14 days quarantine to restriction of outdoor activities (some sources believe it was more than 20 to 40 days under quarantine),[140] the Vietnam People's Armed Forces also takes part on patrolling and controlling measures.[141]

The government and local media outlets have used the phrase Cuộc chiến với Covid-19 (War with COVID-19) to illustrate the efforts and sacrifices required to contain the pandemic.[142][143][144][145][146]

Nationwide isolation[edit source | edit]

On 31 March 2020, Vietnamese government ordered a nationwide isolation of 15 days from 1 to 15 April.[132] From 16 April, local airlines could raise the number of domestic flights, which were subsequently further increased on 23 April and again on 29 April.[147][148][149]

On 23 April 2020, Vietnamese government lifted social isolation rule, subsequently allowing re-opening of non-essential services including restaurants. On the same day, schools across the country could be re-opened, with dates varying per each province and city case.[150]

Everyone who enters Vietnam from abroad, however, continued to be quarantined upon arrival for 14 days. From 23 April, plans for repatriation flights to bring Vietnamese citizens abroad back to Vietnam were re-newed, with an initial plan for 13 flights.[148] Among the flights conducted was notably the first-ever direct flight in history operated by Vietnam Airlines from Vietnam to the United States on 7 May.[151]

From 9 May, cinemas were reopened.[152] On 11 May, Vietnamese government started a nationwide tourism campaign, named 'Vietnamese travel Vietnam', to increase domestic demand for travelling and promote domestic tourism.[152]

Financial support[edit source | edit]

On 10 April 2020, Vietnamese government has passed a VND62 trillion ($2.6 billion) financial support package, directly supporting people in difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beneficiaries of this support package include employees who have to postpone labour contracts, part-time workers who are unemployed but have not received unemployment benefits, enterprises have no revenue or no financial source to pay salaries, employers, individual business households and people with meritorious services to the nation. However, the disbursement of the support package still faces many difficulties and delays because many reason.[153]

Cyberattacks on China[edit source | edit]

According to Reuters, APT32, a hacker group backed by Vietnamese government, also known as OceanLotus or Cobalt Kitty, has tried to compromise the personal and professional email accounts of staff at China's Ministry of Emergency Management and the local government of Wuhan, the epicenter of COVID-19 pandemic. This group has also been accused of compromising "governments, businesses and health agencies in search of information about the new disease and attempts to combat it."[154]

However, Vietnam says reports that it has supported hacker group APT32 to steal information on COVID-19 from China are ‘baseless’. "This is baseless information. Vietnam strictly forbids cyberattack behavior targeting organizations and individuals in any form," Foreign Affairs Ministry deputy spokesman Ngo Toan Thang said at an online press meet.[155]

Local reactions[edit source | edit]

Xenophobia[edit source | edit]

The Asia Times reported that "A number of Vietnamese hotels and guesthouses have reportedly hung signs on their doors saying that Chinese guests are not welcome, while many Vietnamese have gone online to demand the closure of all border crossings with China."[156] Signs suggesting that Chinese customers were not welcome were seen in front of a shop in Phu Quoc and a restaurant in Da Nang.[157]

Charity[edit source | edit]

Not only with the help of the government, many sponsors have provided food and water to the poor with many positive actions such as "rice ATMs" and free supermarkets. This assistance has contributed greatly to helping the society most vulnerable.[158]

Refusal to self-isolate[edit source | edit]

Although the authorities have put in place mandatory measures to prevent the spread of disease, there are some people still escaping the quarantined area or dishonest reporting about their symptoms, these actions caused serious consequences to the public.[159]

Anger was also reported due to the increasing number of the infected cases coming from the Muslim community returning from Malaysia following their attendance of the Tablighi Jamaat festival in Sri Petaling mosque, and two to three patients did not obey the self-quarantine law in Vietnam and still attended Islamic events in Ho Chi Minh City, leading to fury and demands to imprison the Muslim population, even among Vietnamese celebrities.[160]

Frauds[edit source | edit]

On 3 March 2020, a warehouse containing nearly 1 million masks of unknown origin were discovered after the inspection by the police in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City.[161] Many other cases involving masks of unknown origins, illegally produced, stored and traded have been detected, prevented and charged in time, such as in An Giang,[162] Lạng Sơn,[163] Cao Bằng,[164] and Quảng Ninh,[165] many other cases of production fake mask, illegal transportation of medical supplies abroad, also including collection and sale discarded masks or used masks to the public.[166][167][168]

On 17 April 2020, at the meeting of the Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control of Hanoi, Mr. Nguyen Duc Chung, Chairman of Hanoi People's Committee said that the Investigation Police Department on Economic, Corruption Crimes and Smuggling (C03) of the Ministry of Public Security invited some officials of the Hanoi Center for Disease Control (HCDC) to the investigation about the purchase process of the COVID-19 testing machine.[169][170] On 22 April 2020, investigator determined that Mr. Nguyen Nhat Cam, director of the Hanoi CDC, and his accomplices had raised the purchase price for a COVID-19 test kit package using the real-time PCR system by three times.[171] Accordingly, the Investigation Police Department issued a decision to arrest him and six more people on charges of fraudulently buying COVID-19 testing machines. They will be probed on charges of violating bidding regulations causing serious consequences, an offence that can fetch jail terms of up to 20 years.[172][173]

YTN News incident[edit source | edit]

On 24 February 2020, a group of 20 South Korean visitors arrived in Da Nang on a flight from Daegu which is South Korea's COVID-19 epicentre.[174][175]

When being informed about the isolation for monitoring by local authorities, some people in the group refused. They were temporarily kept at the Da Nang Lung Disease Hospital before boarding a flight sponsored by the Vietnamese government back to South Korea the following day.[176]

After receiving complaints from few South Korean about the quarantined area, YTN has broadcast a controversial news report that Korean citizens are being "detained" under poor conditions. Accordingly, the people who appeared in the video said that even without any symptoms of infection, they were still "detained" in a locked room, even, not provided with adequate meals. Notably, this news also criticised the small isolation room, containing 2-3 people.[176]

Immediately after broadcasting and posting the news video on YouTube, YTN received a backlash from Vietnamese netizens. Some people demanding the news agency to apologise for posting untrue information. Under the pressure of netizens, on 2 March, on their official website, YTN News had to publish a "apologies" statement about the incident. In the statement, YTN stressed that they would continue to tell the truth and protect South Korean citizens, but at the same time be more careful in the way of broadcasting to avoid misunderstanding, especially regarding culture difference.[176][174]

International reactions[edit source | edit]

International media[edit source | edit]

Even in comparison to other commended examples like South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan, Vietnam has experienced a much lower number of cases and no deaths.[8][177][178] Due to its inability to conduct mass testing like South Korea, Vietnam implemented a strict 14-day quarantine policy and traced people exposed to the virus. Instead of relying on medicine and technology, the Vietnamese state security apparatus has adopted an widespread of public surveillance system along with a public well-respected military force.[179][180] The Guardian praised Vietnam's propaganda posters reflecting the wartime spirit and Vietnamese nationalism, along with early isolation and tracing objects in contact with the sick helped Vietnam avoid the disaster that Europe is suffering.[181] World Economic Forum said: "Unlike other rich Asian countries, Vietnam is not capable of conducting large-scale mass testing programs;" one-party national mechanism and powerful military-security forces helps the government to make decisions quickly and enact them promptly. Vietnam also has a strong surveillance culture with neighbours who will inform their local police if they suspect any misconduct. "This is not an approach that can be taken in Western societies."[182]

Australia[edit source | edit]

Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment congratulated Vietnam for its achievements in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.[183]

He also thanked Vietnam for resuming the export of rice, helping rice importing countries including small countries in the Oceania-Pacific region to ensure their food demand.[183]

Chile[edit source | edit]

Chilean Ambassador to Vietnam Jaime Chomali said Vietnam has recorded only few new infections although having high population which showed that its efforts have produced persuasive outcomes. He feels confident in Vietnam's rapid economic recovery than that of other regional countries.[184]

Germany[edit source | edit]

Federal Foreign Office, in a statement published on its Facebook page on 14 April showing appreciation and gratitude for the reactions of the Vietnamese government and people of Vietnam in supporting the European country's efforts in combatting COVID-19.[185]

Japan[edit source | edit]

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that his government decided to hand out a coronavirus stimulus of ¥100,000 per individual, including Vietnamese living and working in Japan and affirmed to continue efforts to ensure safety for Vietnamese citizens. Two governments agreed to continue working closely in strengthening exchanges and cooperation across all fields. Abe affirmed Japan will continue offering the second support package to help Vietnam cope with the disease and assist the country in economic growth.[186]

Russia[edit source | edit]

Prime Minister of Russia Mikhail Mishustin agreed with the Vietnamese government to continue facilitating trade between the two countries amid the pandemic. He also spoke highly of Vietnam's response to the COVID-19 and thanked Vietnam for offering 150,000 face masks to help Russia deal with the pandemic.[187] Russian Ambassador Konstantin Vnukov appreciated Vietnam's performance in the fight against COVID-19 and expressed hope that the countries would proceed with their mutual support in the fight against the pandemic.[184]

South Korea[edit source | edit]

South Korean President Moon Jae-in highly valued the measures taken by the Vietnamese government in containing the pandemic and affirmed that South Korea was ready to share experiences and cooperate with Vietnam in fighting the pandemic and protecting the population.[188]

United Kingdom[edit source | edit]

Gareth Ward, British Ambassador to Vietnam expressed his thanks for the support of the Vietnamese government for the British repatriation flight and the medical supplies to aid the UK in combating the pandemic.[189]

United States[edit source | edit]

The United States Ambassador to Vietnam, Daniel Kritenbrink, praised Vietnam for its rapid response to the outbreak.[190] The US delegation also praised Vietnam for its quarantine efforts, and has cooperated with the Vietnamese Embassy in the United States.[191] Matthew Moore, a Hanoi-based official from the CDC expressed "great confidence" in the Vietnamese government's response to the crisis.[192]

Criticism[edit source | edit]

However, Vietnam also received criticism for its response from anti-communist overseas Vietnamese accused the government of not being pro-active enough and censorship.[193] Rumours also spread that Chinese nationals fled to Vietnam from Guangxi from a video, which triggered public reactions that Chinese nationals might be escaping from the coronavirus outbreak. It was later denied by the Vietnamese and Chinese governments as misleading. The Agence France-Presse also condemned the footage as fake.[194]

Some critics of the government have been arrested for allegedly spreading false information about the coronavirus pandemic.[195]

South Korean nationals are also reportedly screened due to the rampant outbreak of COVID-19 in South Korea, which has extensive trade relationship with Vietnam.[176][174]

Impact[edit source | edit]

Economy[edit source | edit]

Vietnam economy growth rate forecast of some international organizations. In the worst scenario, the growth rate of the country is lower than the economic recession in 1986 after a failed monetary policy during Đổi Mới period.
2020 GDP growth rate forecast by Asian Development Bank
(by percentage)

Sources: Asian Development Bank (ADB)[196]

Like most of the world's economy, Vietnam was hit hard by the outbreak because of the slowdown of private and national industries, the downturn of stock exchanges, and the lower number of incoming tourists, making hundreds of thousands people struggling to find jobs and are relying mostly on unemployment benefits to survive.[197] However, Vietnam's economic growth is expected to be higher than the Asia average of 2.2%. Despite the deceleration in economic activity and the downside risks posed by the pandemic, Vietnam's GDP growth rate is still to remain one of the highest in Southeast Asia, according to Asian Development Bank report.[196][198]

The Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HOSE), on which the VN-Index is based, has lost around 30% in value since the beginning of the year until the end of March and reached its lowest level since January 2017.[199] According to the Private Economic Development Research Board survey of 1,200 enterprises, 26.2% of the company will go bankrupt if the pandemic lasts for 6 months, nearly 30% lose 20–50% of revenue, 60% lose more than half of revenue. Vietnam Industry Agency says industry manufacturing processing is in short supply of raw materials and components (mostly imported from Japan, China, South Korea) leads to the risk of stopping many factory operation.[200]

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs said the number of people filing for unemployment in May 2020 surged 44% year-on-year to 157,900. In the first five months 26,000 companies suspended their business. In the worst case scenario, the number of workers affected by the pandemic could rise to 7.2 million in the second quarter, the ministry estimated.[196]

The Vietnam General Statistics Office said export turnover reached US$99.36 billion, down 1.7% year-on-year. Meanwhile, import value reached US$97.48 billion, down 3%, Vietnam's exports to the EU and ASEAN fell 12% and 13.4%[201]

Stockpiling[edit source | edit]

Stores across Vietnam quickly sold out of surgical masks and hand sanitisers after the initial cases of coronavirus were reported. This followed a similar trend in many other Asian countries.[202] Interim Health Minister Vũ Đức Đam urged the public to remain calm during the outbreak and avoid excessive emergency shopping.[203] Vietnamese authorities also arrested people profiteering from the outbreak.[204]

Aviation and tourism[edit source | edit]

Line of grounded Vietnam Airlines and Jetstar Pacific aircrafts due to the pandemic at Noi Bai International Airport.

Tourism industry is the most severe affected, Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam said the aviation industry is in the worst situation in 60 years of development. Of the 234 Vietnam registered aircraft, more than 200 were grounded while airlines still have to spend hundreds millions dollars to maintain operations such as: aircraft leasing cost, paying for employee, aircraft maintenance and apron parking fee.[205] Vietnam Airlines estimates its 2020 revenues could decline by US$2.1 billion. This has seen as many as 10,000 employees of the national flag carrier, over 50% of its staff strength, taking unpaid leave. Duong Tri Thanh, CEO of Vietnam Airlines stressing that the carrier was going through the hardest time in its history.[206]

Due to the serious impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, foreign arrivals to Vietnam fell by 48.8% to 3.7 million in the reviewed period, the Vietnam General Statistics Office said

Of the total, 72.9% tourists were from Asia, down 51.4%. The fall was seen in almost all major markets, such as China, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and France. Tourism revenue was estimated at VND 8.3 trillion (US$360 million), down 54.1%.[201]

Education[edit source | edit]

Vietnam recorded its first cases just two days before the Tet holidays, which fortunately had schools closed through 1 February. Nonetheless, schools and government authorities extended the holiday season until 10 February on a case-by-case basis. On 6 February, under the lead of Phung Xuan Nha, the Minister of Vietnam Education and Training, the Steering Committee for Disease Prevention and Control met and agreed to let the student's stay at home by an additional week. On 14 February, the Ministry of Health proposed schools to remain closed until the end of February, at which point schools had already closed nationwide. The decision to close schools nationwide, as a formality, came with the national isolation order on 31 March, effective 1 April. Consequently, Vietnamese students have not gone to school this spring semester, but schools are gradually adopting online teaching. On 31 March, the Ministry of Education and Training issued a guide of teaching plans for the second semester of the academic year 2019–2020 for junior high school and high school levels.[207]

Sport[edit source | edit]

The outbreak also forced the 2020 V.League 1 to be delayed to 7 March until further announcement, which affected the preparation of Vietnam national football team for the upcoming 2022 World Cup qualification.[208][209] It also caused the Vietnamese Grand Prix of the 2020 Formula One World Championship to be postponed until further notice.[210][211]

On 23 May 2020, 2020 V.League 1 played the first match between CLB Dược Nam Hà Nam Định and CLB Hoàng Anh Gia Lai with 10,000 spectators on Thiên Trường Stadium, this is the first professional football match in the world having spectators since the pandemic breaks.[212][213]

In popular culture[edit source | edit]

Vietnam's National Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health commissioned artists to release the song "Ghen Cô Vy" ("Jealous Coronavirus"), a remake of the 2017 song "Ghen" ("Jealous"), to teach people how to thoroughly wash their hands during the worldwide coronavirus outbreak.[214][215] It has gone viral amidst the coronavirus outbreak, first earning praise from John Oliver in his talk show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and has become increasingly popular among public and frequently duplicated by netizens, with UNICEF recommending the video as a means of fighting back the fear of coronavirus.[216]

Statistics[edit source | edit]

Template:Details of first 250 COVID-19 confirmed cases in Vietnam

Template:COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam statistics charts

References[edit source | edit]

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