Viet Nam

In the interest of public safety: rapid response to the COVID-19 epidemic in Vietnam

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Thuong Vu Nguyen, Quang Dai Tran, Lan Trong Phan, Long Ngoc Vu, Dung Thi Thuy Truong, Hieu Cong Truong, Tu Ngoc Le, Linh Dang Khanh Vien, Thinh Viet Nguyen, Quang Chan Luong, Quang Duy Pham

Summary box

  • We present the COVID-19 epidemic in Vietnam and the country’s major response successes, factors that prompted implementation and impacts of public health actions.

  • Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 remains low in Vietnam, with a total of 1095 cases and 35 deaths by 30 September 2020, identified over three waves of the epidemic over the last 8months.

  • Recommendations from this study are for the government to act rapidly, to enforce strict border control measures, to extensively engage the community, and to expand testing capacity.

  • Effective social protection measures have contributed to the success in halting the spread of SARSCoV-2 in Vietnam.

  • With the possibility of epidemic resurgence, further enhanced preparedness and response efforts, increased resources and strengthened political will be required to end the epidemic.

Abstract

We describe the status of the COVID-19 epidemic in Vietnam, major response successes, factors that prompted implementation of certain public health actions, and the impact of these actions. In addition, information for three case studies is reported, with crucial learnings to inform future response. Findings from this study suggest that as early as 20 January 2020, Vietnam held a national risk assessment, established a national COVID-19 Response Plan and Technical Treatment and Care Guidelines, and prepared public health laboratories to accurately diagnose cases and hospitals to effectively treat patients. The first COVID-19 case was detected on 23 January. As of 30 September, there had been three waves of the COVID-19 epidemic totalling 1095 cases, and resulting in 35 deaths all among people with underlying health conditions. Evidence of potential transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from a commercial passenger flight inbound to Vietnam was reported. This study also highlights the importance of early technical preparedness, strong political commitment, multisectoral and multilevel efforts, increased resourcing and coordination towards an effective COVID-19 response. Controlling outbreaks in settings, such as crowded public places (bars and hospitals), within certain villages and over cities, required early detection, aggressive trace-test-quarantine efforts, a geographically extensive lockdown area and an adoption of several non-pharmaceutical interventions. Many low-income and middle-income countries have experienced their second or third wave of the COVID-19 epidemic, and they can learn from Vietnam’s response across the three epidemic waves. Swift governmental action, strict border control measures, effective communication of health promotion measures, widespread community engagement, expanded testing capacity and effective social measures to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, are highly important in these locations.