Learning from Vietnam and their fight against the Coronavirus

In partnership with the Solidarity Fund. 

The coronavirus pandemic plunged us into so much uncertainty. In March we prepared ourselves for three weeks of lockdown – ten months later we are still living through restrictions. One country that we can learn from is Vietnam. Vietnam recorded its first coronavirus case at the end of November after a 89 day streak with no community transmission. To date Vietnam has had 1405 cases with a very low fatality rate. There are definitely habits and practices we can learn from the Vietnamese. 

The response to the coronavirus in Vietnam was no moemish behaviour. It was tactical and precise. Each infected person was hospitalised immediately. People in contact with those who contracted the coronavirus were isolated immediately. Homes and neighbourhoods were put under local lockdown and sanitised by the army. The quick containment helped keep numbers low. Experience has been a major factor as well. Vietnam learnt from the SARS outbreak in 2003 to close borders early, and start preparing before officially announcing a Lockdown. 

These were all initial reactions earlier this year. So how has Vietnam kept their infection rates so low? 

Contact tracing has been effectively implemented in Vietnam. Folks are isolated immediately, and their travels documented and studied so as to isolate possible new infections. The Vietnamese government has also been campaigning constantly, about fighting the coronavirus as an enemy. 

The South African arts industry suffered a huge blow with the lockdown. Many artists had gigs, shows, art installations and so many other events cancelled this year. Livelihoods were affected and the government had to step in with relief payments. The Vietanamese government commissioned the arts industry to create public service announcements with songs about sanitising and social distancing. The Vietnamese adopted early on and throughout the year a consistent message of unity in action against the coronavirus pandemic. 

Involving the public has also contributed to keeping infection rates low. Spreading awareness and not panic was instrumental in mobilizing the Vietnamese. Anyone spreading false information was immediately fined, and the information taken down. Medical professionals were also mobilised to spread awareness about masking, social distancing, and sanitising. 

There is no 100% perfect response to the coronavirus. Implementation flaws affected every country worldwide. There is no perfect healthcare and economic system. The best we can do is to learn where the successes are. In Vietnam speedy decision-making, constant public health announcements and a rigorous contact tracing network has contributed to their low infection rates. Involving the arts industry has also worked successfully in raising awareness- but to also provide employment to those artists affected by Lockdown. Society must intersect in all ways across all spheres in the fight against the coronavirus. What we can learn overall from Vietnam so far is to remain unified , and act together consistently every day in overcoming the pandemic.