Cases increasing but still low . . .
As of today, Vietnam, a country of 95.5 million people, has reported 237 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 85 recovered cases, and zero fatalities. Vietnam prepared plans for containment beginning in late December as details of the outbreak began emerging from Wuhan. Although cases in Vietnam have been increasing and national social distancing was imposed starting on April 1, the swift, steadfast initiatives that the government has taken have played a critical role in containing the spread of the disease despite its proximity to and deep trade links with China. The country implemented a system of compulsory 14-day quarantine in public-managed facilities, such as universities and hospitals, and military-run camps for people arriving from high-risk countries early in the outbreak. Vietnam’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic thus far has received international acclaim despite its limited resources and weak healthcare system.
Containment using low-cost model . . .
As Vietnam does not have the capacity and resources to conduct national-wide testing like South Korea, the government has adopted a similar low-cost model to the one it relied on in dealing with SARS in 2003: aggressive contact tracing and mass quarantine. The Ministry of Health worked with tech-firm partners to develop an online reporting system in which suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19, and close contacts, are entered into a real-time database. The municipal government of Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city, has also launched a tracking app that raises an alarm and sends notifications to the heads of residential districts if quarantined people move 20-to-30 metres away from quarantine areas or houses in which they are self-isolated.
Increasing privacy concerns . . .
Accurate and real-time data collected through these apps has proven helpful for the government to shape its policy decisions. However, the use of technology has raised domestic concerns over data privacy and mass surveillance. Identities of infected patients have been leaked on social media, which has drawn attention to Vietnam’s poor regulatory framework for data protection. The data breaches can be instructive for Canadian decision-makers who need to take great caution in preventing the public disclosure of Canadians’ identities during the pandemic.
- The Diplomat: How Vietnam learned from China’s coronavirus mistakes
- Stimson Center: Vietnam’s evolving strategy for surviving COVID-19
- Vietnam Times: Hanoi launches “SmartCity” app to track COVID-19 quarantined cases