Vietnam’s early response to COVID-19 praised on Australian news site hinh anh 1Soldier helps transport luggage of a man who finishes concentrated quarantine (Source: VNA)

Sydney (VNA) – Australia’s news site on April 13 posted an article which stressed that with its early decisive action, extensive testing, vigorous quarantining and social unity, Vietnam has so far avoided the devastation of the COVID-19 seen in Europe and the United States, despite sharing a border with China.

The article, written by Chris Humphrey and Bac Pham of the Australian Associated Press (AAP), said that with only several hundreds of infections, Vietnam’s response to the pandemic has been praised by the World Health Organisation.

It cited the country’s official statistics as saying that there are currently more than 75,000 people in quarantine. The country has so far conducted more than 121,000 tests, from which over 260 cases were confirmed.

To date, there have been no virus-related deaths, and infection rates remain significantly lower than in the Republic of Korea, Singapore and even Taiwan which have all been widely praised in global media for their effective responses to the pandemic.

The article also quoted Kidong Park, the WHO’s representative to Vietnam, as saying that the country’s early response to the crisis was critical. Its first risk assessment exercise was conducted in early January - soon after cases in China started being reported.

The country quickly established a National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control under the auspices of a Deputy Prime Minister which immediately implemented a national response plan.

Despite having a low number of confirmed cases, Vietnam has applied national social distancing from April 1, a far faster and more decisive response than that seen in Britain or Italy, where cases ran into the many thousands before public life was shut down.

According to the article, much of Vietnam’s success can be ascribed to its social unity. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc recently described Vietnam’s efforts to contain the virus as the “spring general offensive of 2020”.

Vietnamese schools have been closed since January, and mass quarantining began on March 16. Since then, tens of thousands of people entering the country from badly hit nations have been put into compulsory quarantine in vast military-style camps. By March 25, international flights ceased altogether.

There is no easing of these restrictions yet in sight. The vast majority of domestic flights, trains and buses have been halted, and anyone leaving Hanoi, which sees the largest number of infection cases in the country, is quarantined upon arrival in almost any other province.

At times Vietnamese responses to the crisis have been severe, the article said, adding that official signs in Ho Chi Minh City warn that those not wearing a face mask who are found to have infected another person with a dangerous disease could face up to 12 years in prison.

Yet though these strict measures have so far translated into a relatively successful outcome, it remains to be seen whether Vietnam or other nations with similar responses are able to contain the spread of the virus in the long run, it added./.