Vietnam | Dominik Mayer – Products, Asia, Productivity

How Vietnam Fought a Pandemic and Won  

For VnExpress Phan Anh retraced how Vietnam successfully contained the Coronavirus in the first and second wave. It all started way before other countries realized what was going on:

Despite its best preventive efforts, Vietnam recorded its first Covid-19 cases on January 23 in HCMC: two Chinese nationals, a father and a son, who were quarantined at Cho Ray Hospital after testing positive.

Immediately afterward, on January 24, Vietnam suspended all flights from and to Wuhan despite the World Health Organization (WHO) saying there was no need for widespread travel bans at that point in time.

More flight suspensions followed in the days after that as more cases sprouted up until finally flights to China were completely stopped on February 1.

Vietnamese Helmets

“What’s the danger with Vietnam’s motorcycle helmets?”, asks Govi Snell in the Southeast Asia Globe.

“What isn’t?”, I would reply.

But it’s not that easy. From the article:

Vietnam’s first helmet law, which passed in 2001, required motorcycle drivers to wear helmets on specific roadways. With limited enforcement of this legislation, the use of helmets was estimated at 30%. In June 2007, the government passed a decree that made it mandatory for all motorcycle drivers to wear a helmet on all roads from December of that year. With the law in place, helmet-wearing reached 90%.

Wearing helmets has been mandatory for less than 15 years.

Dr. Pham Viet Cuong, the head of the department on public health informatics at the Hanoi University of Public Health is quoted:

“When helmet-wearing reached 90%, we thought it was a great success and everyone thought that it would help to reduce the number of brain injuries and deaths initially. But after a couple of years, we didn’t see that happening,” he said. “We did a lot of studies and looked at a lot of issues and we saw the problem of unstandardised or low-quality helmets.”

It seems to me, that Vietnamese only wear helmets to avoid being fined, not because they value their head. When I refuse to take friends without helmet on my bike they would often argue that there’s no police around. And when they wear helmets, they choose tiny ones, that might only protect you from a rock falling from the sky. And they seldomly tighten the strap, reducing the already slim protection even further.

What I understand even less than Vietnamese wearing these helmets – they grew up here and everyone around them is wearing them as well – is that many foreigners go with them as well. As if everything our societies have learned doesn’t apply anymore. (Not buckling up in taxis is the same story.) As if the laws of physics would not apply in another country.

Vivian Vo  

Another hilarious article from VnExpress. This time they introduce “makeup queens”, one of which is Vivian Vo-Farmer:

Vivian Vo was born in the U.S. and has a Vietnamese mother and a Vietnamese-Dutch father. With 1.7 million followers on Instagram after seven years working as a makeup artist, Vo is well-known for her revealing style and long hair.

Nurses, Doctors and a Pilot  

In case you’re not following Vietnam’s Coronavirus success story you might not be aware of “Patient 91”, a British Vietnam Airlines pilot that was the most severe Corona patient in the country.

He caused one of the largest clusters of infections in Southern Vietnam and was comatose for over two months. During this time the news media reported on all the details of his health. From blood levels to treatment plans.

Now the pilot is awake and the media shares pictures, videos and a conversation between patient and doctor.

Today, VnExpress’s Anh Thu wrote an article about the nurses and it’s pure gold. Some of my favorite parts:

The patient is over 1.8 m tall and weighs 88 kg, while the average female nurse only weighs around 40 kg.

And:

After the patient exited a two-month coma, one of the biggest challenges proved to be his Scottish accent, which the nurses found hard to understand, fueling his bad moods and the frequent scolding of nurses.

And:

He is quite sensitive and has a low pain tolerance. Nurses must inform and explain in detail any procedures prior to commencement, according to gentle and resilient Tham.

The patient’s eating regime and taste also proved a major obstacle. When he started eating again, Vietnamese cuisine simply did not appeal, forcing the hospital kitchen to dish up anything from spaghetti to western-style lamb chops.

And:

“He is very sensitive and cries easily,” Thi said.

Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing 😆.

Phu My Hung

Phu My Hung is one of my favorite places in Saigon. It has so many nice corners, a lot of soothing greenery 😉 and walking around the area is pure pleasure.

Marry Early  

Viet Tuan for VnExpress International:

Vietnam is urging citizens to marry before 30 and bear children early to maintain an ideal replacement fertility rate. […]

The decision calls for people to marry before they are 30 and bear children early. Women should have their second child before 35, it advises.

The reason being:

Vietnam’s population hit 96.2 million last year, which is third in Southeast Asia and 15th globally, according to the Central General Census and Housing Steering Committee.

The country however reached a turning point in 2015 when it started to become one of the countries with the fastest aging populations in the world, the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs said in a 2016 report.

The Life and Possible Death of the Mekong Delta  

Saigoneer editor-in-chief Michael Tatarski explains why the water of the Mekong is brown:

“If in the future all of the planned Mekong River dams are built, 96% of sediment will be trapped, while 50% is already trapped by the cascade dams in China,” he adds. “If this happens, the coastal water will become transparent, while right now it’s chocolate-colored for 30 kilometers from shore.”

And why that’s a good thing:

Additionally, the loss of sediment would not only starve sea life of nutrients, but would also expose the delta to dangerous storms and waves, as sediment-filled water is heavier than open ocean water and absorbs wave energy.

Coronavirus: What’s Behind Vietnam’s Containment Success?  

Chris Humphrey writing for the South China Morning Post:

“Vietnam responded to this outbreak early and proactively. Its first risk assessment exercise was conducted in early January – soon after cases in China started being reported,” Park says.

I’m impressed with Vietnam’s reaction to this crisis. They closed cinemas, bars, karaoke parlors early, then restricted access to restaurants and finally closed everything that’s not absolutely necessary.