According to skeptics, the official figures of Vietnam may seem too good to be true. However, Guy Thwaites, an infectious disease doctor working at one of the main hospitals designated by the Vietnamese government to treat Covid-19 patients, said the numbers fit the ground with the facts.
“I go to the wards every day, I know cases, I know there is no death,” said Thwaites, who heads the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Ho Chi Minh City.
“If you have undeclared or uncontrolled community contamination, then we will see cases in our hospital, perhaps people with chest infections were not diagnosed – this never happened,” he said.
So how did Vietnam achieve the seemingly global trend and largely escaped the coronavirus scourge? According to public health experts, the answer is a rapid factor, from preventing the spread of government, early intervention to rigorous contact tracking and quarantine and effective public communication.
Vietnam started preparing for a coronavirus outbreak weeks before its first case was detected.
At that time, the Chinese authorities and the World Health Organization had argued that there was no “clear evidence” for human to human transmission, but Vietnam did not take any chance.
“We did not just expect WHO’s guides. We decided to take action (the country) we collected from outside and inside,” said Deputy Head of the National Institute’s Infection Control Department. Hygiene and Epidemiology in Hanoi.
Infectious disease specialist Thwaites in Ho Chi Minh City said the pace of Vietnam’s reaction was the main reason behind its success.
“Their actions in late January and early February were much earlier than in many other countries. This helped them … keep them in control.” Said.
Rigorous contact monitoring
Decisive early actions effectively stopped community transmission and kept Vietnam-confirmed cases at only 16 until 13 February. For three weeks, there was no new infection in March until the second wave of Vietnam returned from abroad.
The authorities meticulously followed up the contacts of confirmed coronavirus patients and placed them in a mandatory two-week quarantine.
“We have a very strong system: 63 provincial CDCs (disease control centers), more than 700 regional level CDCs and more than 11,000 communal health centers. All are connected to contact monitoring,” said the National Institute and doctor Pham. Hygiene and Epidemiology.
A verified coronavirus patient has to give the health authorities a comprehensive list of all the people he has met in the past 14 days. Pham, the announcements are placed in newspapers and published to inform the public about where and when a coronavirus patient is, and urges people to go to health officials to test if they are there at the same time.
When the Bach Mai hospital in Hanoi, one of Vietnam’s largest hospitals, became a coronavirus hotspot with dozens of cases in March, officials were locked into the facility, and medics, patients, visitors and close contacts, according to Pham.
“Using contact tracking, we found almost everyone and asked them to take their own quarantines at home and (and if they have any symptoms, they can visit health centers for a free test,” he said.
The contact tracking effort of Vietnam was so rigorous that it goes not only through the direct contacts of an infected person, but also through indirect contacts. “This is one of the unique parts of their reaction. I don’t think any country has quarantined this level,” Thwaites said. Said.
The study said that as of May 1, around 70,000 people were quarantined at Vietnamese government facilities, while about 140,000 were isolated at home or in hotels.
The study also noted that 43 percent of the country’s first 270 Covid-19 patients are asymptomatic cases, emphasizing tight contact monitoring and quarantine value. If the authorities had not proactively searched for people at risk of infection, the virus may have been spread quietly in communities days before the virus was detected.
Public communication and propaganda
The Vietnamese government has been openly communicating with the public about the outbreak since the beginning.
Special websites, telephone lines and telephone apps have been set up to update the public in the latest situations of epidemic and medical advice. The Ministry of Health regularly sent reminders to citizens via SMS messages.
Pham said that on a busy day, only the national helplines could receive 20,000 calls to avoid counting hundreds of provincial and district level helplines.
Thwaites said that Vietnam’s rich experience in dealing with infectious disease outbreaks, such as the SARS outbreak between 2002-2003, and subsequent bird flu, helped the government and the public better prepare for the Covid-19 outbreak.
“The population is much more respectful of infectious diseases, perhaps than many wealthier countries or countries that have not seen infectious diseases – eg Europe, the UK and the USA,” he said.
“The country understands that these things should be taken seriously and complies with government guidance on how to prevent the spread of the infection.”
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