On March 30, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc announced a nationwide pandemic during a meeting with the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control. The following day on March 31, the Prime Minister issued a new directive that would place the nation under limited lockdown effective 00:00 April 1.
The declaration of a nationwide pandemic was made after Bach Mai Hospital, one of the country’s top referral hospitals, became the largest and most complex hotbed of COVID-19 in Vietnam following a record of 10 cases linked to the Hospital on March 28. The Ministry of Health issued a call for patients and visitors, estimated 40,000 people, who had visited the Hospital since March 12 to declare their medical condition on the mobile app NCOVI or at the online portal.
As of March 31, Vietnam has recorded 207 total infected cases with 57 recovered patients. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement, Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong called on all people across the nation to stay united and resolutely and effectively implement Party and State policies and guidance to win the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council will continue to track responses and directives from the Government of Vietnam and share updates as they develop. In the meantime, please see interesting accounts and insights of the situation from the ground here.
As of March 31, the Government of Vietnam has put in place the following measures:
I. Outbreak Control Measures:
- National Isolation enforced during April 1 – 15 across the country
- Each residential area and administrative locality shall isolate itself from others.
- All public transportation is suspended. Travel from one locality to another is strictly limited. Travel from virus-hit areas to other places is banned, except for emergency government duty, food and other essentials, including commute by workers and engineers to and from work and cargo and material transportation.
- All non-essential businesses will be closed. Businesses providing essential services and products will remain open. Each local government shall determine the list of these essential services and products.
- Production sites and logistics operations are exempted from the restrictions but employers must make sure their employees follow all government-mandated hygienic protocols, including site disinfection, 2-m distancing and wearing masks.
- Everyone is requested to stay in and only allowed to go out on essential business such as to get food and medicine, to be hospitalized and to go to work in production sites and stores that are essential business.
- Groups more than 2 people are banned in public and outside of offices, schools and hospitals. Each room shall have no more than 20 people at the same time. 2-m social distancing strictly enforced in all places.
- Punitive measures for non-compliance: Not specified. Burden is on local government to enforce.
- Border Closings
- International air travel suspended until further notice.
- Transit flights are still allowed.
- Foreign passport holders are turned back at port of entry (air, land, sea). Only diplomats, government officials and high-skilled corporate employees traveling on official business will be allowed in but they have to be quarantined for 14 days in their home, hotel or premise. Returning Vietnamese nationals shall be quarantined for 14 days in government-run facilities.
- All new arrivals at port of entry who are allowed in will be screened for any COVID-19 symptoms and sent to quarantine for 14 days or the hospital for treatment.
- Land borders with Laos and Cambodia are strictly closed for human movement, effective from 00:00 April 1, 2020. Anyone who is allowed to enter Vietnam from these two countries is sent to quarantine for 14 days in government-run facilities.
- Quarantine Policy
- Mass quarantine at government-run facilities applies to all new arrivals at port of entry (air, land, sea) and those who have come in close contact with confirmed cases at no cost to them. The military operate these facilities.
- Some hotels have been allowed to provide fee-based quarantine service, especially for foreign nationals.
- People in close proximity of those who have come in close contact with confirmed cases are subject to quarantine at home or work premise. Local authorities supervise this quarantine.
- All confirmed cases, suspected case and probable cases are quarantined and treated in specialized hospitals.
- Cluster Containment
- Depending on transmission risk level, an entire block of street, a building floor or a building itself, a commune, etc., where a confirmed case is detected can be put under quarantine for 14 days. People living in contained areas are supplied with daily essentials at the government’s cost.
II. Economic Hardship Alleviation Measures:
- Tax deferment is being proposed for VAT, CIT and PIT to Q3 & Q4, for a total of $3.5 bn.
- More measures are being contemplated but government does not have cash to hand out.
- Government expected to announce alleviation plan later this week.
II. COVID-19 Update: [March 31, 2020]
- Active cases: 150
- Recovered: 57
- Death: 0
- Suspected cases: 3,215
- Mass quarantined: 36,313
- Home quarantined: 38,372
- Total tests (# of people tested): 35,808
- Hardest hit cities: Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City