|Traders at a series of wholesale markets in Hanoi receive quick COVID-19 screening tests
The article outlines how the Vietnamese Government put people ahead of the economy and implemented a series of strict preventive measures aimed at halting the spread of the virus since its initial outbreak in the country.
As of early June, Vietnam had recorded only 330 COVID-19 cases and not a single fatality. These figures appear remarkable for a country that has a population close to 100 million and shares a long border with China.
The Government attributes their own success to early and robust measures taken to halt the spread of the disease, although the long-term economic impact of the virus may be harder to mitigate.
The article reports that immediately after the first case was confirmed in late January, authorities were swift to introduce quarantine measures for infected people and anyone they had come into contact with. Indeed, early February saw the Government denying entry to foreign nationals who had been in China over the previous 14 days.
Moving into March, the infection was beginning to spread, mainly among those who had recently returned from abroad. In response, the Government began quarantining all people entering the country while denying entry to all foreign citizens.
In districts where clusters of infections were emerging, authorities initiated measures to restrict the movement of residents by cordoning off entire areas. In total roughly 1 million people were put into isolation nationwide.
From the beginning of April, the Government started to restrict all non-essential outings and suspended the operation of stores, with the exception of supermarkets and pharmacies.
The Government then began to ease restrictions as early as mid-April, with schools, department stores, and public transportation all resuming operations in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, while the domestic football league even returned in front of live crowds.
The Japanese newspaper gave a quote from Hasebe Futoshi, a professor at Nagasaki University's Institute of Tropical Medicine Vietnam Research Station, saying that the Vietnamese Government had taken strict measures before the outbreak widely spread to successfully contain community infections. He cited the quick establishment of an efficient testing system and thorough isolation measures as the main factors in the country’s success.
The Japanese professor also attributed the Vietnamese success to the country’s political system as it allowed relevant authorities to impose restrictions relating to the movement of citizens in a swift manner.
With success in fighting the virus, the people of the country have praised the Government's handling of the pandemic. Evidence for this was shown in a survey conducted by British research firm YouGov which shows that more than 90% of Vietnamese citizens believe that the Government has handled the crisis well.
The article also notes the strong impact the COVID-19 has had on the national economy that had previously been booming. While the nation had been able to maintain a high annual GDP growth rate of around 7% for several consecutive years by actively attracting investment and tourists from China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and other countries, the growth rate for the first quarter of this year has slipped to just 3.8%.
Some of the major pillars of the Vietnamese economy, including the garment industry, have seen a slump in orders from the United States and Europe, resulting in plunging export figures. Furthermore, the number of inbound tourists in April decreased by 98% from the same month last year due to the imposition of tight border controls. The Government estimates that the number of unemployed people nationally could reach 3.5 million.
In interviews conducted with NHK and other international media outlets, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said the tough measures implemented by the Government are beginning to pay off.
"We don't ignore people's lives by thinking only about the economy,” PM Phuc stated.
“This is a very dangerous virus and no vaccine has been developed. Strict measures are important. Our success in quickly bringing the pandemic under control will help draw investors and tourists back to Vietnam", he added.
The PM has also vowed to support businesses by reducing taxes and offering other incentives.