Vietnam is an exception in the world: given that the country has a common border with China, no one died of Covid-19 and only 268 people were contaminated. And no, it’s not a manipulated statistic, even if a communist regime is in power.
It is a country with 93 million inhabitants, which has not been talked about much since the beginning of the crisis generated by the new coronavirus. And yet, it was among the first countries to officially register a case of Covid-19. It was January 23rd. A case imported from China, its strong neighbor. So far, nothing unusual.
Unusual, however, is the situation that occurs three months later. As of April 22, Vietnam had only 268 cases of coronavirus in total. And no dead. And 223 of these cases were already declared cured. It’s almost as if the country hasn’t been affected by the coronavirus.
“It’s a real enigma,” says an epidemiologist at the Pasteur Institute in France, quoted by Ouest-France. Arnaud Fontanet does not believe in the hypothesis of a manipulation of statistics, which could be suspected by this country still led by an iron fist by a communist party.
“Undoubtedly, there are a few more cases, maybe there are dead, in the country, of which we do not know. But if there were people filling the emergency rooms en masse, we would have known. There is no government action to mask the situation, “said an inside source.
In fact, as social networks are widely used in Vietnam, it would have been impossible.
In Vietnam, schools have been closed since January 20. They were closed not because of the coronavirus, but because of the New Year. But they haven’t been reopened since. However, in most European countries, for example, such a measure was not taken until March.
The border with China has been closed since February 1, a decision that contradicted the then WHO recommendations.
Then, starting with January 30, an inter-ministerial crisis committee is created, in which scientists are also co-opted.
Also, measures to ban gatherings of more than 20 people, then those with more than 10 people, and the decision to close non-essential stores were taken much earlier than in other countries.
From a political point of view, in a democratic regime it would have been impossible to take such measures, given that there was no evidence that the virus was circulating on a large scale. The Western population would certainly not have accepted them.
And then why did the Vietnamese population – which has also been very receptive, since the beginning of the epidemic, and in terms of social distancing – accept? It is a matter of culture, in a Confucian country, where the group is more important than the individual.
It is also a political issue, because we are talking about a country where the communist party has been in power since the fall of Saigon, in 1975, a single party that dominates society.
The Vietnamese people have also accepted an extremely well-targeted isolation strategy. Proven cases or suspicions have been systematically documented, according to a well-established epidemiological process, which has not been challenged for a moment.
As soon as a positive case was detected, he was declared F0 and placed in solitary confinement at the hospital. People who came in contact with him, designated by the code name F1, were tested and quarantined in special centers run by the army or at the hospital. And the contacts of these contacts, designated as F2, were placed in isolation at home for 14 days. If someone left the house unauthorized, he was immediately reported, because there is a very strict social control in this country. And if an F1 contact at some point became positive for coronavirus, it was declared F0, and those who until then were F2 became F1.
Currently, Vietnam has about 70,000 people in quarantine, being F1 or F2 people. Among these people are hundreds of foreigners, especially after a contaminated British pilot went to Buddha Bar, a place very popular with foreigners in Ho Chi Minh.
No one made an exception. And a British official was designated as F1 for a few hours just because he was at the same airport with one of his infected compatriots.
For such a rigorous follow-up of contacts, the authorities have resorted to technology: as of March 10, all Vietnamese must complete an online health statement. And an application for tracking contacts will be developed soon.
Entire communities were quarantined, especially in the north of the country, when the situation called for it. The community in Son Loi has been quarantined for 20 days, starting on February 13. Bach Truc Street in Hanoi has been closed for 13 days since March 6. So is another street, on April 2, then an entire neighborhood in Hanoi, on April 7.
These well-targeted restrictions have been complemented by nationwide isolation and distancing measures from 1 April, which could be extended until the end of the month.
Wearing a protective mask in public is mandatory, leaving the house can only be done for good reasons and all gatherings have been banned.
In addition, sellers and market workers, for example, were tested en masse.
And Vietnamese authorities have made free rice available to people left without sources of income as a result of these measures. Several “rice ATMs” have been installed in Asia.