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Vietnam relaxes Coronavirus controls as China threats rise

GETTING BUSY: Traffic builds up on a Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) street after Coronavirus ‘social isolation’ was relaxed on April 23.

ECONOMYNEXT – Vietnam, a global leader in the fight against Coronavirus had relaxed its ‘social isolation’ allowing people to move more freely, restaurants were allowed to open, but the health ministry warned the public to wear masks and wash hands frequently.

Vietnam aggressively traced contacts, with the health ministry and military getting public support with flow diagrams and charts of where index had been and quarantined over 40,000 persons including foreigners.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said, except for some districts of Hanoi, Bac Ninh and Ha Giang people in other districts could go out and engage in normal activities subject to wearing masks and exercising car.

One of the last confirmed cases in Vietnam involves a Hmong tribal girl in Ha Giang who apparently got the disease from her brother who had returned from China.

But the brother was not positive for disease leading to the entire area being locked down. Vietnam’s government pays people in locked areas a per diem.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said Hanoi;s social isolation was being relaxed despite a proposal by the National Steering Committee for the Prevention of Epidemic to keep controls for another week.

“Relaxing social isolation but should not be an opportunity go to the streets to celebrate,” Prime Minister Phuc said.

“You have to be happy but alert.”

He asked young people in particular not to drink and party or race in the streets and that police would check such activities.

Three young people without masks in HCMC on the morning after 'social isolation' was relaxed.





“People can go back to normal but the authorities still strongly advised to go out when there is the need, when you go out should wear masks and keep their distance,” the health ministry said in a statement.

“The transportation activities such as bus, taxi, car technology is active again.”

Overnight there was confusion in Viet Nam whether taxis and public transport would be allowed, showing that there was a debate whether relaxation was coming too soon. In Vietnam, due to free trade and low taxes, most families own not just one motorbike, but several.

Vietnam confirmed and hospitalized 268 Coronavirus cases, with aggressive contact tracing with strong community involvement.

Up to April 23, when controls were relaxed 216 had recovered 52 were in hospital including three serious cases. There have been zero deaths at the time of writing.

Vietnamese doctors had developed a treatment protocol using extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (heart-lung type machine) to keep patients alive long enough to fight the virus, when ventilators no longer worked. It is not clear whether any other country has tried it.


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The relaxation came as China was stepping up threats in the East Sea (South China Sea), declaring two disputed islands as provinces and ramming yet another Vietnamese boat, triggering protests from the Philippines and the US.


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Philippines said it had officially protested to China over pointing of a radar gun at one of their vessels.

Chinese Coast guard vessels had been ramming and sinking fishing boats off the coast of Vietnam for years. The latest sinking occurred in the first week of April.

In the absence of Coronavirus the Chinese actions would have drawn street protests, in Vietnam and elsewhere, commentators familiar with the region said.

In Vietnam bars massage parlours and gyms would still be closed.

Prime Minister Phuc asked people to adapt to a ‘new normal’ wash hands, to use antisceptic on surfaces where the germ can penetrate, maintain distance in activities such as production, business, classroom and restaurant.

Schools were asked to keep 1.5 meter distance but there are complaints that there is not enough space. (Colombo/Apr22/2020)

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