Vietnam has reported no coronavirus deaths – how?

Vietnam’s three-pronged government strategy has kept patients away from death’s door.

Vietnam has reported no coronavirus deaths – how?

Robyn Klingler-Vidra, King's College London and Ba-Linh Tran, University of Bath

Vietnam – a developing country that has a large land border with China and a population of 97 million people – has not reported a single death from coronavirus. As of 21 April, the country had reported 268 cases of COVID-19, the disease associated with the new coronavirus, with more than 140 people making a full recovery.

The reason why Vietnam has managed to keep patients from death’s door is down to a three-pronged government strategy. While these policy choices may not all be consistent with upholding civil liberties, they are proving essential to keeping the pandemic at bay.

Temperature screening and testing
Starting in February, anyone arriving at an airport in a major Vietnamese city had to go through compulsory body temperature screening and fill in a health self-declaration, stating their contact details and travel and health history. These measures are now mandatory for everyone entering major cities and some provinces by land too, and for everyone entering a government building or hospital.

Anyone with a body temperature of over 38°c is taken to the nearest medical facility for more thorough testing. Those who are proven to have lied in their self-declaration, or who resist declaring altogether, can be criminally charged.

Businesses including banks, restaurants and apartment complexes have also implemented their own screening procedures.

There has also been intensive testing across the country. Testing stations have been set up across cities, which all citizens can attend. Communities who live near confirmed cases – sometimes an entire street or village – are swiftly tested and placed in lockdown.

Our own research on the development of affordable test kits found that by 5 March, Vietnam had validated three different test kits, each costing less than $US25 and producing results within 90 minutes. These are all being manufactured in Vietnam. The cost of testing matters everywhere, but is particularly important in emerging economies such as Vietnam and these affordable test kits have helped the government’s intensive testing strategy.

Targeted lockdowns
The second prong of Vietnam’s approach is quarantine and lockdowns. Since mid-February, Vietnamese people returning home from abroad have been quarantined for 14 days on arrival and tested for COVID-19. The same quarantine policy has been applied to foreigners coming to Vietnam. Anyone who has come into direct contact with an infected person, the details of whom are publicised, is encouraged to come forward for quarantine. If it’s discovered somebody has come into contact with someone who has tested positive, they will be put into mandatory quarantine.

In March, Vietnam started to lock down whole cities and specific areas in a city. Travelling between cities is now highly restricted. In Danang in central Vietnam, anyone who is not a registered resident of the city but wishes to enter has to submit to a 14-day quarantine at a government-approved facility, which they must finance themselves.

Villages of 10,000 people have been fenced off on account of single cases. Bach Mai, a famous hospital of 3200 people in Hanoi, which is also a leading COVID-19 treatment centre, was even locked down in late March after one externally contracted staff member tested positive. Businesses, both state and private, are closed down, and the tourism and airline industries are essentially frozen.

Constant communications
From early January, the Vietnamese government has communicated widely to citizens about the seriousness of the coronavirus. Communications have been clear: COVID-19 is not just a bad flu, but something to be taken extremely seriously, so people are advised not to put themselves or others at risk.

 

A text sent via Zalo from the Ministry of Health looking for people who had visited Lucky Star Gym as one confirmed COVID-19 case went there. Below are some tips for staying well. Author provided

The government has been creative in its communications methods. Each day, different parts of the Vietnamese government – from the prime minister, to the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Information and Communications and provincial governments – text citizens with information. Details on symptoms and protection measures are communicated via text to mobile phones all over the country. The government has also partnered with messaging platforms, such as Zalo, to distribute updates. This is coupled with propaganda art across the country and newly designed stamps that further disseminate public health messages about the virus. Vietnam’s cities are adorned with posters that remind citizens of their role in stopping the spread of the virus.

At the same time, the government is revealing details of those who have COVID-19 or, in rare cases, have escaped quarantine – though the person’s name is not made public. For example, two new reports detailed the travel details of patients 237 and 243.

Even if some cases have not yet been detected by officials, there’s no doubt that the Vietnamese approach has been effective in reducing the spread of the virus. Combined, these measures mean Vietnam has not yet experienced any large-scale community outbreak, which would devastate a city like Ho Chi Minh City with a population of 11 million and overwhelm the country’s public healthcare system.

The three prongs of Vietnam’s strategy may not be wholly consistent with liberal ideals, but they are working. The healthcare system has the time to treat each patient, and in so doing, keep the number of COVID-19 deaths at zero. Vietnam offers important lessons as COVID-19 is set to spread further across developing countries.The Conversation

Robyn Klingler-Vidra, Senior Lecturer in Political Economy, King's College London and Ba-Linh Tran, PhD Candidate, University of Bath

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons licence. Read the original article.

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    COMMENTS

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    Illuminati
    9th May 2020
    8:59am
    Interesting but they've only tested 0.26% of their population whereas New Zealand has tested 3.6% or nearly 14 times as many on a per head basis. Australia has tested 3% of our population. On a raw numbers basis we have tested almost 3 times as many people even though we only have a quarter of Vietnam's population. Iceland has tested 15% of their population.

    Yes I'm sure that all of the containment strategies have done a wonderful job but to suggest that a country of 97 million people, a land border with China and a health system that ranks mediocre at best hasn't had a single COVID-19 death is very difficult to believe. It's easy to make the claim that nobody is testing positive when you aren't testing.
    Tanker
    9th May 2020
    11:06am
    They do appear to have seriously restricted the movement of people, in a way that could not have been done here. While that quantity of testing has not been as great perhaps the quality, in terms of it being targeted at individuals who may have had a contact with the virus, may have been more effective than N.Z.s or ours.
    It is essentially a tightly controlled controlled country so the people are used to accepting directions from authorities in a way we are not so that may have an effect.
    It will be interesting to finally find out whether their claim is in fact accurate. Perhaps it isn't but their technique is interesting but certainly restrictive in terms of human rights.
    Tanker
    9th May 2020
    11:06am
    They do appear to have seriously restricted the movement of people, in a way that could not have been done here. While that quantity of testing has not been as great perhaps the quality, in terms of it being targeted at individuals who may have had a contact with the virus, may have been more effective than N.Z.s or ours.
    It is essentially a tightly controlled controlled country so the people are used to accepting directions from authorities in a way we are not so that may have an effect.
    It will be interesting to finally find out whether their claim is in fact accurate. Perhaps it isn't but their technique is interesting but certainly restrictive in terms of human rights.
    aussiecarer
    9th May 2020
    11:07am
    Numbers of deaths due to covid can't be trusted in EITHER direction. According to Dr Judy Mikovits, American doctors are receiving monetary incentives to say that a patient has covid - $13000 per patient. And they get $39,000 if that patient is put on a ventilator - which Dr Judy Mikovits claims is the wrong treatment for many patients. Other doctors are also saying they are being put under pressure to write that a patient has died of covid on their death certificate - when they would normally just write flu or pneumonia on the death certificate.
    I don't know about the truth of these claims but I do know that what is written on a death certificate can't always be trusted. I have first hand experience of this. My dad had no major health issues until he was 90 yrs old, then he got talked into having the oldies flu shot by this GP. Dad got really crook after having that flu shot. He called it the echo flu, because it was this flu that kept coming back. Prior to that shot, Dad rarely got the flu. What I found suspicious however was that on Dad's death certificate the doctor wrote, "reason for death - digestive cancer". Those words on the death certificate stunned me - Dad had never been diagnosed with any type of cancer, he had never been treated for any type of cancer, he wasn't on any prescribed painkillers, he wasn't in any pain, and he was eating normal food up until the day he died. He had lost his appetite a bit, but he had been like that since the flu shot. To me it was as though they were avoiding writing "cause of death flu (or flu shot)" on his death certificate.
    I don't think doctors should be given financial incentives for diagnosing cases of any disease
    Incognito
    10th May 2020
    9:15pm
    I watched the video before it was taken down, why? They call it fake news but I believe we have a right to listen or watch what we like and make up our own minds. There are already heaps of articles to debunk this Doctor because they are most likely getting paid too. Everything is about the money, and big pharma is the biggest business on the planet. And the like of Bill Gates who does not even have medical qualification is always speaking about health issues because he has vested interests.

    Crazy thing about your dad, they would never ever say anyone dies from a vaccine, and no doctor or coroner would dare write that down because they would be dismissed and never be able to work in health again.
    So you can see easily why with covid 19 the numbers can be increased easily by what they right down on the death certificate and the CDC in USA were told to write deaths by covid even if they were not tested but suspected to have it.

    No doubt you will receive some nasty comments from some members here for even mentioning Dr Mikovitis too.
    Fisher
    9th May 2020
    6:43pm
    My mother-in-law died in St George (Qld) hospital in 2014 in her 100th year. It has always annoyed me that (one of) the causes of death was ‘depression’. How can a beautiful lady who has lived for a century, very happily for the last 25 years at home with her daughter, be considered to have depression?
    Incognito
    10th May 2020
    9:06pm
    Seems they write anything these days because they are only interested in completing the job and getting paid, not much funding for research into the real causes.
    Incognito
    10th May 2020
    9:16pm
    Interesting, I wonder if all those chillis they eat helped.


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