What the West Can Learn From Vietnam’s Response to Covid-19

What the West Can Learn From Vietnam’s Response to Covid-19

I remember it was during the last week of January when my American family & friends were all at a dinner table discussing what was then a foreign, “China-contained” new disease called Coronavirus. The virus had infected about ~1000 people worldwide, 500 alone in Wuhan, China, and 1-2 cases in the US. I told the group that just days ago, the Vietnamese government ordered all schools to be closed for the foreseeable future, as would be many “non-essential” public gatherings and businesses. People were on high alert. Masks and hand sanitizers were severely out of stock.

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Great article, Linh. I have been living in Vietnam for almost 3 years now and totally agree with all the points you made.
I actually feel safer here than I would back in the UK.

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Thanks for reading @miguel-ricciolini! How are you feeling about the government’s recent order to have all citizens and internationals wear masks in public? Asking cause I know masks can be a controversial topic to some people.

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Totally agree. I came to Vietnam in December after visiting friends in China. As my 3 month visa was coming to an end it seemed much more preferable to stay here than return to the increasingly bad situation in the UK so I have paid to extend my trip for a further 3 months.

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I have been living in Vietnam since November, trying to get my wife finished with the immigration interview and back to the U.S. After waiting almost 2 years for our interview, we finally made it. We were heading to HCMC to get this over with and go home. 1 day before the interview, we were notified that interviews are cancelled until further notice. We were pretty mad as you can imagine. The next thing you know, the world began to fall into chaos. Even If we had the clearance to go, we wouldn’t be able to get a flight. Who wants to spend 6 hours at the airport in Seoul? Only to eventually get to the U.S. and the uncertainty. I’m not going to lie, I’m sooo ready to go home to America with my wife, but for right now, I’m very glad to be in Vietnam for a little while longer. I feel safer here than I could anywhere else in the world. I just have to learn to enjoy eating rice a little more. Thanks for your article.

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Wow, incredibly responsibly, and beautifully, written piece. Being an expat in Vietnam has completely opened my eyes, no more so than the last two months. An incredible effort by an equally incredible society. Ive had friends send me lunches (via grab) and just send heart felt messages… And I’m not even self quarantined! I’m proud to live here.

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Thanks for this post. I have been in HCMC for some time now and pretty much the only nation that I’ve seen appreciate the Vietnamese action is Czechia, where there is significant Vietnamese diaspora from back in the 90s, and everyone was noticing they started stocking up on face masks after they came back from the lunar new year. Guess what, they are now giving them away for free to front line staff because Germany stole Czech medical cargo with supplies… ANYWAY, whenever I mentioned what the Vietnamese are doing on Reddit or Twitter (that is, to Americans) I’ve been always shunned to oblivion. It seemed a lot of these people were actually simply reluctant to believe something so unlikely. Nonwestern, not rich country successfully fighting a serious disease. It’s been making me so angry.

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Yes, great and beautifully written article, em Linh! Thank you!
Agree: Vietnam’s disease surveillance protocols and response is amazing!
Better than elsewhere in the East/West - independent, from China’s doorstep!
With a long list of brilliance, longer and more comprehensive than this for:
Virus testing! Virus tracing! Virus isolation! Monitoring and minimising viral incubation! Ministry of Health advice, updates, transparency, and viral videos! Closing schools for months! Community response! Business response! Availability of soap, hand wash, loo roll, test kits, masks, hospital beds, empty hospitals, trained medical staff, quarantine facilities and service, in Vietnamese and English! Government directives and follow through. Coordination of government departments and community response. Closing borders in response to lack of disease surveillance+++ from UK, Europe, and US. Lack of fear epidemic.
Vietnam’s respect for science, people and planet in general, and early understanding and preparedness for the families of coronavirus (with COVID-19 and SARs just a couple of examples), in particular.
Weird/ignorant the void of mention of Vietnam’s excellence by WHO/media.
Nevertheless: Actions speak louder than words!
The World has plenty to learn from Vietnam. Let’s hope it can!

[Apologies, cannot say i’m from East/West - (born in Sarawak, from an Irish family, with father and grandfather diplomats, schooled in England, second degree Hong Kong, asked to work in Vietnam over 15 years ago - not sure where to go if foreigners must leave Vietnam - though not an issue today)!]

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Great choice Keith! Looks like only last week has the UK started to take this a bit more seriously. Best wishes to you.

I’m sorry you have to go through that @jerry-h! Hopefully you can reunite with your wife soon :pensive: So sad that during a time when we need to connect the most, we have to be apart. This too shall pass.

I’m glad you feel welcomed and safe in Vietnam, @Kcneves!

That’s true that there are a lot of Viet expats in Czech! Could you point me to some accounts that actually acknowledge Vietnam’s effort?

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You are right @julia-muine that actions speak louder than words! I’m glad that so many people who currently live in Vietnam like you guys can vouch for this. Stay safe and best wishes to you :heart::green_heart:

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Hi @linh, those were passing comments on social media that I will never find again. But I think you could find valuable two contacts:

Jan Sova, who runs a Facebook group where people share both news and memes about the virus (he moderates it well and it’s often valuable information there), it was in that group where some of that appreciation appears. https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010774845648&tsid=0.661715106008834&source=result

Do Thu Trang, Czech Vietnamese blogger at https://asijatka.cz, who wrote more about the community aspect of help rather than the government, but still.

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My son and his wife in HCMC are as I type being taken away to quarantine - they had contact with someone 10 days ago who tested positive . I am beside myself. Will they be treated well , get medical attention if needed. Could someone let me know what they are going through please.

100% agree. I’ve been living in HCMC for over three years and have watched with admiration the Vietnamese government’s response.

Just this morning I got the following text message from the Ministry of Health:

No panic, just clear, easy to follow instructions - in English.

The speed and efficiency with which Vietnam has handled this crisis is an inspiration and certainly worthy of being emulated in the West.

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Sorry you have to go through that @lois1! I’m sure they are in good hands. Let me know if you need any help translating stuff from the gov or the people.

I’m glad you been receiving these helpful text messages from the MoH. During this whole month a lot of my friends have been talking about how they literally long for these messages from the MoH like they would a crush :joy:

I think that it makes sense. I personally don’t like wearing them but I wear it always when I leave home, at least to respect the culture of my host country.

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