Vietnam stands out as leader in coronavirus battle

Vietnam stands out as leader in coronavirus battle

Top Stories | Apr 24, 2020:


Vietnam has been punching above its weight class in the fight against the coronavirus.

On top of using cost-effective, timely measures to prevent the virus from surging at home, Vietnam has donated protective gear, including more than a million masks, to Cambodia, China, Laos and several European countries and manufactured items for the United States as well.

In early April 2020, Vietnam gave a range of medical equipment to Cambodia and Laos. Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung donated specialized protective clothing, medical masks, testing systems and test kits worth over 7 billion Vietnamese dong (about U.S. $304,000) from the Vietnamese government to the two Southeast Asian nations, according to a Twitter post by Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The development “indicates Vietnam’s continued willingness to assert leadership in mainland Southeast Asia amid this global pandemic,” according to Prashanth Parameswaran, senior editor at the online news magazine The Diplomat. Vietnam continues to play a major role in the subregion, including through assistance to Laos and Cambodia, Parameswaran wrote.

A few days after donating 390,000 face masks to Cambodia and 340,000 to Laos and other items, Vietnam donated 550,000 face masks to five European countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. On giving the masks to the countries’ ambassadors in Hanoi, Vietnam’s Deputy Foreign Minister To Anh Dung said that the move demonstrated the value of the strategic partnership between Europe and Vietnam and Vietnam’s recognition that “strengthening international cooperation and unity” is key for mitigating coronavirus disease, Viet Nam News, an English language daily newspaper reported.

“Thanks to our Vietnamese friends for their support,” Petra Sigmund, director general for Asia and the Pacific at the Foreign Office of Germany, said on Twitter. “We should stay united in solidarity and continue to join hands to fight against the coronavirus.”

“The aid is not without significance,” Parameswaran wrote. “It illustrates Hanoi’s continued willingness to assist other countries on a bilateral and multilateral basis to the best of its abilities even as it continues to remain vigilant about managing its own coronavirus challenge at home.”

Vietnam also recently produced 450,000 DuPont hazmat suits for the United States and expedited the shipment of the protective equipment to Dallas, drawing praise from U.S. President Donald Trump, who thanked “our friends in Vietnam” on Twitter for the shipment on April 8, Reuters reported.

In February 2020, the Vietnamese government donated medical gloves, masks and protective outfits, worth U.S. $500,000, to Wuhan, China, according to the Global Times, a newspaper published by the Chinese Communist Party.

“Our heartfelt thanks go to all those who provided us with sincere support and help,” Geng Shuang, spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on receiving the shipment, the Global Times reported.

In February 2020, the Vietnam Red Cross Society also donated medical supplies worth U.S. $100,000 to China, according to Tuoi Tre, Vietnam’s largest newspaper.

Vietnam is currently producing 7 million fabric masks a day across 40 firms, and the government is evaluating increasing production by more than 5.7 million masks a day, Reuters reported.

One of Vietnam’s biggest companies is also shifting its lines to manufacture ventilators and other medical supplies such as thermometers, the Voice of America (VOA) reported.

The U.S. Agency for International Development is exploring using Vietnamese firms to supply medical products for combating the pandemic.

“This is a very good opportunity for Vietnamese businesses to export personal protective equipment and medical supplies to European and American markets,” stated Nhan Dan, Vietnam’s state-run newspaper, VOA reported.

Vietnam has been in a position to help other nations not only because it has a nimble manufacturing base but also because it responded quickly to the pandemic, holding its numbers of reported cases in the hundreds, according to various media accounts.

Despite having foreign tourists and returning travelers and students, Vietnam, considered an underresourced country with a precarious health care system, has successfully managed the pandemic to avoid becoming a hot spot, Hong Kong Nguyen, a researcher at the A.I. for Social Data Lab in Hanoi, explained in an article for the Project Syndicate website.

“Clear communication and government-citizen cooperation that leveraged technology are the main reasons why the country has had relatively few cases,” Nguyen wrote. “Vietnam’s government tightened border controls and put hospitals and local health departments on high alert for the new pneumonia cases on 3 January — before the first [reported] fatality in China and only three days after confirmation of the outbreak there.” (Pictured: A health worker checks the temperature of a resident in Hanoi, Vietnam, on April 6, 2020).

“To take the fight to coronavirus, Vietnam instituted rigorous quarantine policies, and carried out complete tracing of all people who came in contact with the virus,” Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster, reported. “These measures were implemented much earlier in the course of the epidemic than in China, where lockdowns of entire cities were used as a last resort to keep the virus from spreading further.”