Increasing infection rate . . .
On August 14, Vietnam reported 24 new COVID-19 cases, increasing total infections to 929. While Vietnam recorded 430 cases and zero deaths in the first wave spanning more than four months, there have been 461 domestically-transmitted cases and 21 deaths in 15 cities and provinces since the second wave broke out in the central city of Da Nang – a tourism hotspot – on July 24. On August 5, Da Nang completed a makeshift hospital in a sports stadium within four days, with 200 beds dedicated to COVID-19-stricken patients. Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Truong Son and an ‘elite’ team of more than 60 medical experts have been sent to assist the containment efforts in Da Nang.
A different approach . . .
Vietnam has been taking a different approach to the second wave, implementing targeted lockdowns over particular areas instead of a nationwide lockdown to keep the economy rolling. Strict social distancing rules have been imposed, and more than 400 people have been fined in Da Nang for violating the rules in the past three weeks. Hanoi has launched a rigorous media campaign to increase the uptake of Vietnam’s contact tracing app, Bluezone. The effectiveness of the app, however, relies on adoption by at least 60 per cent of the population, equivalent to 50 million people. As of August 10, there was a total of 14.9 million downloads of the app – only 14 per cent of the total population.
Economic and political wobbling . . .
Although Vietnam is avoiding another country-wide lockdown, the economy has been suffering from the second wave. In Ho Chi Minh City, 4,000 businesses are reported to have laid off around 120,000 employees, adding to an earlier lay-off wave of 54,000. Vietnam’s National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control has announced that the country will order up to 150 million doses of vaccine from Russia. Leadership challenges have also mounted, as the Chairman of Hanoi, who had been active at the forefront of pandemic response, has been suspended from work amid a corruption investigation. Vietnam is also expected to have a leadership transition in January 2021.
- Nikkei Asian Review: Vietnam tries new local lockdowns to stop COVID but not economy
- Tuoi Tre News: Vietnam to place order for 50-150 million doses of Russian COVID-19 vaccine
- VnExpress International: 120,000 people to lose HCMC jobs amid fresh Covid-19 outbreak