Vietnam’s successful “spring offensive” against Covid-19


Is there a “Vietnamese exception?” “Wonder a number of observers and media in Asia. It is true that the very low rate of Covid-19 infection in this country is surprising: as of Friday, April 17, the Vietnamese ministry of health reported only 268 cases, including 171 of recovered people already out of the hospital. No deaths have been officially reported as a result of the virus.

This neighboring country of China had early anticipated the dire consequences of an epidemic by closing on 1er February its borders with the People’s Republic and by not reopening schools after the ceremonies of mid-January during the “Têt”, the Vietnamese New Year. The country has also been in general confinement since the beginning of April while the imposition of massive quarantines in certain affected municipalities began in mid-February.

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“The first risk assessment was done in early January, shortly after China announced the first outbreaks of contamination,” said Kidong Park, representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Hanoi. Given the good results in the fight against the epidemic, a Deputy Prime Minister, Vu Duc Dam, even went so far as to announce last week that the virus was ” under control “.

If there is an “exception”, there is nothing mysterious about it: it is the result of an effective policy of identifying and monitoring infected and at risk people and groups. This strategy is based on a system of population control which is, among other things, the mark of an authoritarian regime in command of the whole country since the “liberation” of Saigon by communist troops in 1975.

“A very intrusive system”

“When a test revealed that I was a carrier of the coronavirus”, explains on the phone from Ho Chi Minh City (ex-Saigon), a Franco-Vietnamese recently returned from Paris, “I was immediately asked to complete a questionnaire in which I had to give the names of all the people I had recently met or met. All the passengers and crew on the flight I took from France were tested and quarantined. “

For this man who divides his life between Paris and his country of origin – and confides under the seal of anonymity -, “In Vietnam, the police will not hesitate to wake you up at 1 am to warn you that one of your relationships is infected. It’s a very intrusive system but most people obey. ”

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