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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Vietnam’s Covid-19 success: Nationalism/low-cost model

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Suruwa B. Wawa Jaiteh

Vietnam’s Covid-19 response model, based, essentially, on nationalism for containing the outbreak has been touted as a successful low-cost model. Whereas its neighbours, Taiwan and South Korea, could afford mass testing, Vietnam lacked the resources and instead opted for selective and proactive prevention. Aside from some common policy actions such as contact tracing, ramping up production of medical supplies, and installing checkpoints at airports and other strategic locations, Vietnam found its success in proactiveness. Over the course of three months since the record of its first case, Vietnam has not hesitated to restrict movements where needed, balancing overt caution with precision.

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The measures adopted made Vietnam emerge as a model – without the expensive mass testing – for stopping Covid-19 in its tracks: This country of 97 million has, so far, only 3001 cases and no deaths from the disease up to this point in time.
One must note that one difference between Vietnam and most other South East Asian countries is that the former has not been as globalised as the other countries have been, which made it easy and fast for the virus to travel across nations’ borders.

That explains also why Myanmar and Cambodia – really still practically isolated from the rest of the world – each have only a hundred plus cases. Certainly it’s an anecdotal argument that, our lone fatality came on a religious visit when the virus reached us. There is ample evidence that with the boom in business and tourist relations between certain countries resulted in high Covid-19 cases.

Vietnam does have very important lessons for us to learn from to defeat this pandemic. Two of these – involving nationalism and some suspension of Western notions of human rights – are, however, anathema to some activists and to globalist elite hysterically trying to put down the country’s successes in fighting Covid-19.

The research of two very knowledgeable writers “The Secret to Vietnam’s Covid-19 Response Success” outlining what Vietnam did to defeat Covid-19 is relevant.
“Despite the aggressive nature of these responses, the underlying factors that enabled the Vietnamese Government’s success is the mobilisation of nationaism. The government has framed the virus as a comon foreign enemy and called on the unity of the population to defeat it, echoing the enduring history of a nation always threatened by foreign invaders. Since ‘day one,’ the Communist Party of Vietnam (and the state) have led the fight with the motto ‘fighting the epidemic is like fighting against the enemy.’

“Nonetheless, calls for nationalism are not without setbacks, as public sentiment was at one point villainising Vietnamese students returning from abroad for carrying potential risks of transnission. However, the government garnered public criticism, reflecting the effectiveness of the government in rallying the public but also the risk of over zealous nationalism.

However, the government was able to position itself as an effective source of leasership during the pandemic by providing information with transparency. The Ministry of Health launched a website and a mobile application to disseminate accurate and timely information quickly.”

The use of digital apparatus helped stem the spread of rumours and fake news, in addition to legal enforcement against people who spread inaccurate information or engage in profiteering. State media have also constantly covered the hot spots of the pandemic like China, Italy, Spain and the United States of America to raise public awareness about the seriousness of Covid-19 and to demonstrate the essence of robust government intervention.

“According to World Health Organisation (WHO), Contact-tracing process comprises three steps: contact identification, contact listing and contact follow-up. Vietnam has successfully conducted tracing via the quick identification of infectious contacts based on the Ministry of Health’s classification of inffected, suspected and exposed cases of Covid-19 and the rapid mobilization of health professionals, security personel, the military and civil servants to implement the tracing.

In the case of an identified patient, the mobilization may include up to 300 public personnel who will participate in the contact tracing campaign. Businesses and other institutions visited by the patient are isolated and people who had been in contact with him are tracked down via surveillance camara footage and then taken into quarantine facilities. The whole process takes less than two days and has a definite effect on minimizing the spread of the virus from the identified patient.

Mass quarantine
The first case of mass quarantine involving five infected cases, took place in the second week of February, 2020. The commune where the quarantine site is located, is home to a large number of workers who had returned home from Wuhan, China. The quarantine lasted for 20 days. The country later intensified its containment measures at the airports by mandating medical declarations for all arriving passengers. Further quarantines followed.

The first form of quarantine under Vietnam’s Covid-19 measures is home confinement, in which whole neighbourhoods where an infected patient is identified are isolated and disinfected.

The second form of quarantine, applies to those who have arrived in Vietnam from virus-hit countries, concentrated-quarantine in publicly managed facilities, such as universities and hospitals or military camps. To ensure transparency and accountability, citizens can easily access information on and the locations of all quarantine camps – from the most popular social platform in Vietnam.

The latest high profile case of mass quarantine was in March, involving more than 30 infected cases. A nationwide campaign has been designed to trace more than 40,000 visitors to the hospital.

Technology
“Technology has played a key role in the momitoring of suspected and confirmed infected patients in Vietnam. The Ministry of Health works with tech-firm partners to develop an on-line reporting system in which suspected and confirmed cases of Covid-19, as well as people in close contact, are entered into a database available in real time to the government in Hanoi. In additioin, a mobile app, NCovi, has been introduced by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) to allow citizens to proactively declare their health status on a daaily basis.

“Hanoi has also launched a mobile app, Smart City, to track infected, quarantined and recovered cases. Patients are required to install the app in their phones, which raises an alarm and sends notifications to the heads of residential districts if they move 20-to-30 meters away from quarantine areas, or houses for self-isolated cases.
“Accurate and real-time data collected throutgh these two apps have proven very useful to the government in shaping its response to the outbreak.”

Nevertheless, the use of technology has elicited concerns over data privacy and mass surveillance. The identities of some infected patients have been leaked on social media platforms, highlighting the country’s poor regulatory framework around the protection of personal data.

Although the government of Vietnam has failed to protect the privacy of some infected patients, citizens have been cooperative with the government, largely supporting its use of tracking apps, as well as state-funded campaigns to encourage hand-washing and hygiene. According to a recent survey, 62 percent of Vietnamese say that they are satisfied with the level of response from the government in fighting Covid-19, with 17 percent of respondents stating that their government’s response was “too little.”

With China having spectacularly defeated the pandemic – it’s got only 1,041 active Covid-19 cases, out of 82,000 Chinese who had been infected – are the atheist communists defeating the Bible’s Plague Horseman of the Apocalypse?
At the end of the day, and all the blah-blahs, is authoritarianism, a collective philosopher king, a superior form of government, that averted the end of times?
More Americans have died from Covid-19 than were killed during the Vietnam war, a very grim milestone coinciding with Hanoi officially reporting zero deaths from the coronavirus.

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