With less than 300 cases and an astonishing zero deaths from COVID-19, Vietnam has established itself at the forefront in how to deal with coronavirus. While their tactics may be seen as aggressive and hasty, it’s exactly that proactiveness that led to Vietnam standing toe to toe with much wealthier countries such as Taiwan or South Korea, who have had the resources and money for mass-testing, a luxury Vietnam couldn’t afford.
Opting for isolation instead of testing for the first few months, the Vietnamese government tracked and traced individuals through primarily social media in order to isolate them from the general public. While some may argue that the Vietnamese government has infringed on the public’s safety and privacy, it is a price well worth paying. COVID-19 has been incredibly destructive to not only economies and businesses around the world, but for those who may have family or friends who are susceptible to the virus.
In contrast to countries like the United States, Vietnam has utterly demolished the virus despite having much less resources to work with.
A large part of their success also comes from ignoring the World Health Organization (WHO)’s guidelines. Vietnam utilized a series of travel bans and mandatory face masks as early as January, all the while countries who are now suffering the most from the virus were busy confusing the public with conflicting information about whether to wear or not to wear a mask.
In a survey done by Dalia Research, they recorded that 62% of Vietnamese citizens believe their government has handled the outbreak correctly, topping countries like South Korea and Singapore prior to their recent outbreak.
While the Vietnamese government’s methods may be seen as crude or borderline authoritarian by western standards, the results are undeniable, as are the responses from Vietnam’s citizens. It is a monumental achievement for Vietnam and an absolute embarrassment for many other countries.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has also spawned an opportunity for the Vietnamese government: regaining public support.
The past few years have been rocky between the government of Vietnam and it’s citizens, starting back in 2016 where a tragic oil spill devastated Vietnamese marine life, and the government was accused of concealing information from the general public.
Other incidents include contamination of tap water in Hanoi and a deadly dispute over land between villagers and Hanoi police officers, which only served to bring public opinion of the Vietnamese government down.
Thanks to the admirable efforts of the Vietnamese government in containing the outbreak of COVID-19 however, public support of the government has only been going up, with Vietnamese citizens even tweeting out patriotic anthems traditionally played in war-times in support of both the Vietnamese army and government.
While the communist government of Vietnam still deserves criticism for their restrictions of human rights and freedom of speech, press, and assembly, their communist government has actually allowed them to do more in comparison to democratic nations like the United States, or even Taiwan and South Korea.
Forced isolation and quarantine may be seen as harsh and crude, but it was the only thing the Vietnamese government could do with their limited resources. While Vietnam has been doing mass testing as of late, their lack of resources earlier in the year meant that forced isolation was their only option.
And it worked, all the while gaining public support. With the cards they were dealt, Vietnam has played a royal flush.
They aren’t in the clear yet however, as seen from Singapore’s sudden surge of COVID-19 cases, weeks after they were declared to be a “model country” in dealing with the outbreak.
With how aggressive Vietnam’s policy has been with the outbreak however, bets are they should be safe.