Sun | Jul 12, 2020

Jamaican tells how Vietnam took military fight to COVID

Published:Thursday | April 9, 2020 | 12:26 AMLennox Aldred/Gleaner Writer
Gabrielle Nain, a Jamaican living in Vietnam. That country of nearly 100 million people has suppressed COVID-19 infections to 250.
Gabrielle Nain, a Jamaican living in Vietnam. That country of nearly 100 million people has suppressed COVID-19 infections to 250.

As Europe grapples with mass deaths and Asian nations like Japan face a second wave of the novel coronavirus, Vietnam’s military strategy has been credited with successfully battling COVID-19.

Jamaican media professional Gabrielle Nain has been living in Asia for more than two years and is currently based in Vietnam, where she works as a TV producer.

For now, Nain and the very small Jamaican expat community there have been safe from the infectious disease as they hunker down in Ho Chi Minh City.

To date, Vietnam, which recorded its first case on January 22, has had 250 coronavirus cases and zero deaths. Half of the infected people have already recovered.

This is a staggeringly low number for a country that is a densely populated neighbour of China, where the virus was first detected, and which has counted almost 82,000 infections and 3,300 deaths.

Vietnam has a population of 97.34 million but has managed to suppress transmission to far lower levels than wealthier North American, European, and Asian countries.

The five worst-affected COVID-19 nations – the United States, Spain, Italy, Germany, and France – have seen aggregate novel coronavirus infections top 900,000 and deaths above 60,360.

Global infections are approximately 1.4 million and deaths 82,000.

Nain believes that the government of Vietnam acted swiftly, sparing the socialist republic a greater impact by curtailing the spread of the disease.

“It was crazy at first as they went around knocking on everyone’s door telling persons to stay in. There were police and soldiers and people in Hazmat suits everywhere,” Nain told The Gleaner.

Security officials can be found on every street and neighbourhood keeping close surveillance on anyone from slipping through the net or flouting regulations.

Getting public buy-in was somewhat easy, Nain said, as people generally complied with social-distancing and other protocols. State agencies ramped up public awareness and even released a song about sanitisation that went viral.

Nain said the Government took the fight to coronavirus by closing borders early and instituting rigorous quarantine policies.

Most cities were on lockdown early, with theatres, barber shops, and salons shuttered. Restaurants were also ordered to have a delivery-only policy.

“If you go around the city, people have been mandated to wear masks and gloves if they have to go out, and anyone that is spotted flouting the rules will be fined or even jailed,” the Jamaican native added.

With Jamaica recording 63 coronavirus cases and four deaths, Nain is urging the Holness administration not to let up on curbing the pandemic.

“I feel proud to see how the Jamaican Government has responded to COVID-19. I just urge them to continue the fight until we get to a point where normalcy is restored,” she said.