Asahi Shimbun/Hanoi – Vietnam is one of those rare countries that maintains it is largely free of the scourge of the new coronavirus pandemic, asserting it has not had a single related death to date. Could that be true? Many Vietnamese scoff at official figures, saying they likely reflect efforts by the socialist government not to alarm the population about the extent of the health crisis.
As an Asahi Shimbun reporter assigned to cover Vietnam, I was intrigued by the following statement by a Japanese national who works in the country: “Even though I talked about the very few patients infected with the new coronavirus and the Vietnamese government’s tough measures to combat COVID-19, no one in Tokyo believed me.”
The virus outbreak that began raging on a global basis four months ago left Vietnam largely untouched, if official figures are to be believed, despite the country’s proximity to China, where the health crisis is believed to have started.
I decided to delve into this mystery, wondering what Japan could learn from Vietnam in terms of differences in ideology and the fact that the country imposed what many may consider to have been draconian isolation measures at the outset to combat the crisis.
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Photo: Residents of Hanoi wear protective face masks on their daily travels after the government eased a nationwide “lockdown” to contain the new coronavirus outbreak on April 23. (Reuters)