Coronavirus & Viet Nam

How many people can you count on this “Hanoi City Tour” bus? Photo by MAA

Update on 20.2.20

So far, so good for Viet Nam. As of today, there are only 16 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, in the entire country. That number has remained the same for a week. 11 out of the 16 confirmed cases are in the northern province of Vinh Phuc out of 58 provinces and 5 municipalities. Here is the breakdown by location, courtesy of the Kompa Group website below, which noted that all but one have recovered:

Vĩnh Phúc 11
Hồ Chí Minh 3
Khánh Hoà 1
Thanh Hoá 1

In addition to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) website, mentioned below, here are some additional sites with up-to-date information, including one in Vietnamese and English.

2020 coronavirus outbreak in Vietnam (Wikipedia)

2019–20 Wuhan coronavirus outbreak (Wikipedia)

2019–20 Wuhan coronavirus outbreak by country and territory (Wikipedia)

Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) (Kompa Group)

These 5 Online Tools Provide Up-to-Date Tracking of The New Coronavirus Spread (Mary Meisenzahl, Business Insider)

This 8.2.20 article from Kyodo News explains why there is so much concern about the spread of this virus: Half of secondary virus infections occur in incubation period: study.


Originally posted on 6 February 2020:

If you look the at the major media outlets, you’d think that the coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is the only story. The impact on the streets is obvious. Hanoi, for example, is quieter than usual. There is considerably less traffic and many shops are closed, while those that are open do not have many customers.

Many Vietnamese are stocking up on groceries and other supplies so they don’t have to go out often (the Ministry of Health has pointed out that this is not necessary), shops that sell air masks are doing a brisk business, and many schools are closed for the week, essentially extending the Tết break. (One week could become two or three.) While the idiom “better safe than sorry” is generally good advice, I can’t help but think that too many people are overreacting.

Keep in mind that Viet Nam has only 12 confirmed cases of the virus in a population of 97+ million, and that 99% of all confirmed cases are in China, where the virus originated. The death rate is currently 2%, nearly all in China. So far, no deaths have been reported in Viet Nam and only two outside of China, including one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines.

For its part and in the spirit of giving credit where credit’s due, the government is doing a good job of preventing the spread of the coronavirus by stopping the influx of Chinese tourists (nearly a third of all tourists in 2019 were from China), quarantining Chinese workers returning from the Lunar New Year holiday, and requesting the cancellation of flights from Chinese cities and Hong Kong.

It is also cracking down on fake news about the virus on social media by fining the perpetrators (a 4 February 2020 essay was entitled Much like the coronavirus, fake news is spreading, and the vaccine is an informed mind) and fining drugstores that are engaged in face mask price gouging.

Hanoi is even planning to set up two field hospitals to quarantine up to 1,000 people suspected of being infected with the coronavirus. HCMC has begun constructing an $11 million field hospital with facilities in two locations.

Not surprisingly, the coronavirus epidemic is expected to slow Viet Nam’s first quarter GDP growth to 6.5% from last year’s 6.79%, according to a report from Bao Viet Securities (BVS). One example of the devastating impact of a closed border is the fact that there are over 200 container trucks full of dragon fruit at the northern border gate waiting to enter China.

Courtesy of JHU CSSE

In case you’re not already aware of it, this website, pictured above, is a great source of information. Kudos to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE).

Related to health and the environment, Viet Nam has much bigger fish to try. Hopefully, after this crisis has been resolved, the country will be able to focus on solving the widespread air pollution problem, especially in Hanoi and HCMC, and deal with water pollution on a nationwide basis. Pollution is the main reason why health is the #1 concern of the Vietnamese people, according to a 2019 Nielsen survey.

Shalom (שלום), MAA