Going back to this time last year, while many countries were enduring lockdowns and reporting thousands of deaths per day, Vietnam surprised the world as it swiftly eliminated community transmissions through comprehensive testing, contact tracing and quarantining in centralized facilities, and strict border control as well as proactive public health policies. While most parts of Asia struggled, Vietnam remained open for business, at least internally, and managed to be the only economy in Southeast Asia to experience positive economic growth in 2020.
Surely it wasn’t luck. Vietnam’s success can be attributed to good public health, focusing on prevention rather than costly medical cures. In fact, as of early April this year, the country had reported just 35 COVID-19-related fatalities and less than 4,000 cases overall.
But it didn’t last long.
Despite the restrictions that get stricter day by day, cases continue to increase across the country — especially in the used-to-be-a-safe-haven, Ho Chi Minh City.
Between late April and late July 2021, Vietnam recorded over 120,000 cases in 62 of its 63 localities and over 800 deaths, Ho Chi Minh City being the worst affected.
100 days timeline
The emergence of the Delta variant in the country at the end of April 2021 changed everything. Today, August 5, is the 100th day since April 27, when the first community transmission was recorded in Yen Bai at a quarantine facility.
In early May 2021, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh called for improvements in the efficiency of the fight against the coronavirus. In addition, mandatory quarantine time for new arrivals was extended from 14 days to 21 days due to the long incubation period.
On May 7, Vietnam recorded its first new death from an adverse reaction to the AstraZeneca vaccine. A few days later, the PM issued a resolution on COVID-19 vaccine procurement, and that it must be carried out immediately. Just before May ended, HCMC authorities decided to impose social distancing measures for two weeks starting on the 31st.
On June 5, Vietnam’s National COVID-19 Fund was launched. PM Phạm Minh Chinh said during the ceremonial launch that “the fund was established to mobilize social resources for the purchase and import of vaccines as well as for research, development and production of domestic vaccines.”
That same day, at 8 PM, the fund, which was initially approved by the government on May 26, received a total of VNĐ1.036 trillion or US$45 million.
To address and widen the vaccination campaign, during the first weeks of June, Vietnam approved China’s Sinopharm and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use.
On June 14, HCMC was supposed to end its two-week social distancing restriction but the authorities extended it for another two weeks until June 30. On June 20, the initial social distancing rules became stricter.
July came and on the 9th, the nine million people in HCMC were mandated to stay at home for 15 days under Directive 16 — a broad lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.
On July 19, additional 17 southern localities imposed strict social distancing measures under Directive 16 for two weeks. Five days later, the capital Hanoi also enforced social distancing measures under Directive 16 for 15 days.
On July 26, Vietnam’s national COVID-19 patient tally crossed the 100,000 mark, recorded in 52 localities. On July 29, Vietnam’s Ministry of Health approved the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.
Came August 1 and social distancing was extended again by 14 days in 19 southern localities, including the epicenter HCMC. One day later, the total number of deaths recorded reached over 2,000.
On August 3, Vietnam recorded a total of 170,190 cases and 2,071 deaths. According to the data released on the same day by the MoH, over 7 million people have been administered with COVID-19 vaccine and 744,331 are fully vaccinated. Over 19 million doses of vaccines have been shipped to the country.
On August 4, HCMC sought continued vaccination priority from the MoH to achieve its goal of immunizing 70% of its population aged over 18 by the end of August. HCMC plans to accelerate the progress of vaccination and targets to inoculate more than 4 million doses by the end of this month.
Today’s new cases
This morning, four imported cases and 4,267 domestic cases were detected in HCMC (2,365), Bình Dương (1,032), Tây Ninh (194), Đồng Nai (164), Long An (146), Đà Nẵng (93), Bình Thuận (77), Vĩnh Long (60), Cần Thơ (37), Phú Yên (28), An Giang (24), Bình Định (23), Đồng Tháp (14), Bạc Liêu (4), Đắk Nông (4), Lâm Đồng (1), and Lạng Sơn (1).
Death toll stands at 2,071.