Vietnam relaxes restrictions

  • Vietnam
  • Friday, 24 Apr 2020

VIETNAM has eased social distancing measures, with experts pointing to a decisive response involving mass quarantines and expansive contact tracing for the apparent success in containing the coronavirus.

Despite a long and porous border with China, the South-East Asian nation has recorded just 268 virus cases and zero deaths, according to official tallies.

Although the numbers tested for Covid-19 are relatively low and experts caution that the authoritarian government’s health ministry is the sole source for the figures, thought they also say there is little reason to distrust them.

Vietnam was one of the first nations to ban flights to and from mainland China and in early February, when it had barely more than a dozen cases, villages with 10,000 people close to the country’s capital Hanoi were placed under quarantine. There has also been aggressive contact tracing.

One 72-year-old Hanoi resident described how he and a team in his community had been tasked with zeroing in on any suspected cases, falling back on grassroots Communist Party networks in charge of overseeing neighbourhoods.

“We go to each and every alley, knocking on each and every door, ” Nguyen Trinh Thang said.

“We follow the guidance from our government that ‘fighting the pandemic is like fighting our enemy’.”Vietnam’s success in convincing the public to cooperate has been key, said Takeshi Kasai, the World Health Organisation’s Western Pacific regional director.

“They’re really doing their part, ” he said earlier this week, adding that around 80,000 people were placed under quarantine. — AFP

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