US media outlet details why Vietnam has had so few COVID-19 cases
The National Public Radio (NPR) of the United States has quoted experts who believe that experience in dealing with prior pandemics, early implementation of social distancing, and firm action from political leaders have all contributed to Vietnam having so few novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases with no deaths.
According to the NPR, despite sharing a border with China, Vietnam has yet to report a single death from the COVID-19, with just 269 confirmed cases. This is in contrast to neighbouring Southeast Asian nations that have reported thousands of cases.
John MacArthur, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) representative in Thailand, has attributed this level of success to the great political commitment that has been implemented from central government, right down to grassroots levels.
With prior experience in dealing with the 2003 SARS and 2009 H1N1 pandemics, the Vietnamese government was able to start organising its response in January, as soon as reports began emerging from Wuhan where the virus is believed to have originated from.
Vietnam quickly employed a variety of successful tactics to detect cases and reduce the risk of the epidemic from spreading, including widespread quarantining and aggressive contact tracing. These methods have subsequently won praise from the World Health Organization and the CDC for its transparency in dealing with the crisis.
As a result, tens of thousands of arrivals to the country have been put into quarantine, while all international and domestic flights were banned as of the end of March. The government also implemented a social distancing order on April 1 which was extended for at least another week in high-risk localities.
With the economic toll of the restriction becoming apparent, many members of the country's business community are stepping up to help by setting up "rice ATMs" that are capable of dispensing free rice to those who are out of work or who have fallen on hard times.
The CDC's MacArthur has affirmed the country's relatively low COVID-19 case numbers following a visit by his team to Hanoi which saw the CDC work closely alongside the Ministry of Health.