Making news

UK newspaper highlights Vietnam’s contact-tracing strategy against COVID-19

UK-based Telegraph called Vietnam “an under-reported success story of the pandemic” in an article published on April 23, given that the country had reported, by that time, just 268 cases and zero deaths.

Vietnam has started to lift the strict movement and social distancing restrictions that still remain in many of its Southeast Asian nations, allowing daily life in major cities to slowly come back to normal, the newspaper said.

The country of 95 million people has managed to keep the COVID-19 under control despite being less wealthy than other strong Asian performers like the Republic of Korea and Taiwan (China), and its 1,000-km porous border with China, it said.

Like its Asian countries, Vietnam’s swift response was based on a robust pandemic response plan that was forged after recent deadly brushes with other high-risk infectious diseases, including SARS and A/H5N1.

It highlighted the Vietnamese strategy, saying it focused on a combination of targeted, rigorous contact-tracing and testing to swiftly contain small clusters of the COVID-19 before they spread further.

After the first cases were confirmed in January, Vietnam quarantined more than 10,000 people in Son Loi commune in the northern province of Vinh Phuc after a smattering of infections. It also decided early on to impose a 14-day quarantine on anyone arriving in the country from a high-risk area while all schools and universities have been closed since the beginning of February, it noted.

“In March, when Vietnam’s 22-day disease-free run was broken by a cluster of imported cases linked to a flight from London, officials tracked down and quarantined all passengers, and suspended visa-free entry for the UK and several European countries,” the Telegraph said. “It later sealed off its borders.”

The newspaper also hailed Vietnam’s massive public information campaign on the pandemic, which included the hand-washing song "Ghen Co Vy" that went viral globally.

It quoted Dr John MacArthur, Thailand country director for the US Centres for Disease Control, as praising Vietnam’s response which was made possible by “strong public health systems, the whole-of-government approach” and a huge team of “disease detectives” to carry out contact tracing./.