Now classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), the COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly throughout the world, including in Vietnam.

Recommended precautions for most healthy individuals are careful hand washing, avoiding touching your face, disinfecting frequently-touched hard surfaces, and practicing social distancing, including avoiding large gatherings.

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Some tips below from Dr. Mason Cobb, Vice-Chair of AmCham Healthcare Committee’s Medical Providers Subcommittee:

The Vietnam “War against COVID-19” remains locked in battle with the COVID-19 outbreak in the Central provinces. The battle seems to be turning in our favor, as Vietnam’s medical and case-tracking forces – personnel, supplies, and equipment – have been called in from all over the country. They are fighting a tougher enemy than previously: this mutated and more infectious variant of the virus can spread like a wildfire, as it has done in many other countries.

This new COVID-19 outbreak in Da Nang, Quang Ngai, and Quang Nam is now under control ,according to the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control on August 4th. However, the number of infectious cases and deaths will continue to rise in the days and week to come. The likely increase is due to aggressive case tracking and testing. To date, evidence showing widespread community cases is limited to those linked to three hospitals in Da Nang.

As over 80,000 people fled Da Nang after the outbreak was identified, cases arose in other parts of the country. These were all directly related to contracting the disease in Da Nang and there has otherwise been no community spread to date outside the Central region, with 384 cases since July 24th, 11 deaths, 178,695 in quarantine, and three community spread outside those directly from Da Nang or repatriated (Data as of as of 7:00pm, August 9th).

WHO and many other epidemiologists are recognizing that the current situation is not about a “second wave”: it is “going to be one big wave”. There will be outbreaks, unpredictable in timing, severity, and location foreseeably. Fortunately, Vietnam is preparing for this long and tiring war, as we all should.

The government is making decisions in the best interest of the nation as a whole, as well for those regions feeling the impact more directly. Deputy Prime Minister, Vu Duc Dam, stated, “Social distancing will not be imposed on a national scale again. We have to localize the outbreak on as small a scale as possible, while other regions unaffected by the virus will continue as normal.” Policy seems to be evolving toward treating areas of outbreak more aggressively than the rest of the country. Although social distancing, mandatory mask-wearing, closure of bars and clubs, and limiting crowds and face-to-face meetings have been imposed on Hanoi and HCMC, so far, there is no lockdown or general closure of businesses.

Even though our “safe bubble” can lull those of us outside of the Central region, the “sneak attack” is a wake-up call. As individuals, everyone bears the burden to behave responsibly and engage to protect ourselves and our communities. Especially during this period of heightened risk and awareness, this is the perfect time to reflect again on the basics. The government, healthcare workers, public health professionals, and other essential personnel can only be successful and themselves safe when individuals in the community are equally committed. Once again, we are at the stage where mask-wearing and proper hand hygiene is simply compulsory.

This battle, currently being waged in the Central region, is like a guerilla attack in its rapid and surprising hit. Our forces are repelling and confining it, but the COVID-19 war is expected to be long and many surprises lie ahead. Successful individuals, organizations, and governments must remain flexible and resilient amidst this shifting and unpredictable battlefield.

Stay safe and be well!