Weeks before Vietnam recorded its first ever COVID-19 case on 23 January 2020, the country had already tightened its borders, issued public information about the new “pneumonia-like” illness and drafted strategic plans to combat the virus. It reported only a little more than 300 cases and zero deaths over the following four months - an impressive achievement, considering that it shares a land border with China, where the pandemic is believed to have started.
After 100 days of no community transmission, on 26 July 2020, the city of Da Nang in the central region imposed a lockdown after new cases emerged, marking the arrival of Vietnam’s second wave of infections. By September, the daily tally was already in decline, and central Vietnam was as jaunty as it was pre-pandemic, minus the crowds.
With borders still closed and inbound leisure travel still restricted, the third wave of community infections last week came as a surprise. The first two cases, admittedly a drop in the ocean compared with hundreds of thousands of infections recorded daily elsewhere in the world, jolted a country that has enjoyed months of zero local transmission. The country’s now back to being on high alert - schools closed, lockdowns imposed, movement restricted and testing ramped up.
With the situation changing rapidly, here are some quick facts to keep you up-to-date.
- The first case, detected after 55 days since the last local case, was a female factory worker in Hai Duong. She came into contact with another Vietnamese national who later traveled to Japan and tested positive there for the new UK variant of the virus.
- A total of 375 cases have been reported since January 28, 2021. 278 of those are from the province of Hai Duong. Current national COVID-19 tally is at 1,957, including 35 deaths.
- The Ministry of Health confirmed that the new wave of infections is caused by the more virulent UK strain.
- Over 65,000 people are quarantined in hospitals, centralized facilities, homes and other designated accommodations.
- Vietnam will be receiving around 4.8 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine within the first half of 2021 via the Covax program. This is in addition to another agreement between Vietnam and AstraZeneca announced on February 1 for a supply of 30 million doses for domestic inoculation. Vietnam is also developing its own COVID-19 vaccines, with four currently in the works.
- Employees of all 21 international and domestic airports in Vietnam will be tested in the coming days by local Centers for Disease Control. Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport already tested more than 3,000 people.
- Chi Linh Town, home to 200,000 people and many industrial parks, is currently in strict lockdown.
- Many provinces and cities require 21 days of isolation and COVID-19 tests to all people visiting their hometowns for Tet.
- Hanoi has shut down all bars, karaoke parlors, discotheques, video game and internet parlors until further notice.
- Many localities have already suspended Tet festivals, scaled down fireworks shows and banned large gatherings.