Reuters hails Vietnam’s response to COVID-19 pandemic hinh anh 1Checking body temprature at a Vietnamese hospital (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The UK’s Reuters news agency on April 30 run an article praising the Vietnamese government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reuters wrote: It was late January, just after the Lunar New Year. Vietnam had detected its first two cases of the new coronavirus days earlier, and the government was contacting companies with experience of medical testing for urgent help.

Phan Quoc Viet, General Director of Viet A Corp, said: "The official said Vietnam needed to act quickly." The company later successfully produced the test kit LightPower iVA SARS-CoV-2 1st RT-rPCR which was recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO).

As early as January 23, Vietnam suspended flights to and from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak started, immediately after discovering its first two cases. It acted even though the WHO was at that point advising against travel restrictions. A week after that, Vietnam effectively closed its 1,400-km (870-mile) border with China to all but essential trade.

By mid-March, Vietnam made the wearing of masks in public places mandatory nationwide, well ahead of most other countries and not heeding the WHO's advice that only people with symptoms should wear them. Some of Vietnam's garment factories turned to making surgical and cloth masks to meet demand.

Vietnam, a country of 96 million people which shares a border with China, is signalling that it has succeeded where many wealthier and more developed countries have not by containing the new coronavirus.

The government is officially reporting a relatively small 270 cases and zero deaths. That puts the country on course to revive its economy much sooner than most others, according to several public health experts interviewed by Reuters.

These public health experts say Vietnam was successful because it made early, decisive moves to restrict travel into the country, put tens of thousands of people into quarantine and quickly scaled up the use of tests and a system to track down people who might have been exposed to the virus.

"The steps are easy to describe but difficult to implement, yet they've been very successful at implementing them over and over again," said Matthew Moore, a Hanoi-based official from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who has been liaising with Vietnam's government on the outbreak since early January. He added that the CDC has "great confidence" in the Vietnamese government's response to the crisis.

Vietnam increased the number of laboratories that can test for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, from three at the beginning of the outbreak in January, to 112 by April.

As of April 29, 213,743 tests had been conducted in Vietnam, of which 270 were positive, according to health ministry data.

"It is organised, it can make country-wide policy decisions that get enacted quickly and efficiently and without too much controversy," said Guy Thwaites, director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Ho Chi Minh City. Thwaites's laboratory has been helping to process tests.

Thwaites said the number of positive tests processed by his organisation's lab was in line with government data.

Todd Pollack, a Hanoi-based infectious diseases specialist at Harvard Medical School, said that less than 10 percent of the people who tested positive for the virus in Vietnam were over 60 – the age group most likely to die from COVID-19. All patients, he added, were closely monitored in health facilities and given good medical care./.