Updated : 16/03/2020
To give a bit of info about Vietnam, since I am Vietnamese and read the articles in Vietnamese. On the French forums, I am told about “drastic measures” in Vietnam at the moment – without knowing the reason. So I’m going to bring you more information because you won’t necessarily find it in French.
On March 2, 2020, while the country was no longer registering new cases, a Vietnamese woman carrying the virus returned to Vietnam (case n°17) – after having travelled through Italy, France and England(source en fr). After trying to hide her itinerary and trying to hide at home, she had to be hospitalized on March 6. On the same flight, 11 other passengers tested positive. They traveled all over Vietnam, contaminated other people (saleswomen, guides) so the areas where they set foot were quarantined. The monuments visited by sick or potentially sick tourists have been closed to be cleaned.
So if you’re quarantined, it’s not necessarily because you’re French – it’s bad luck
Recently, there was another plane from the United States, where a woman tested positive for coronavirus. It isn’t known if she got it in the USA or during her stopover. The passengers on this flight will be, ditto, searched, tested and quarantined – as well as their hotels. Some people in contact with this woman have been found to be carriers of the coronavirus as well. March 12: on a plane from London, there is a Vietnamese passenger with symptoms of the coronavirus. The whole plane has been quarantined. On March 14, another German passenger from France tested positive for the coronavirus. From now on, all passengers on flights from Europe are quarantined upon arrival at the airport.
Thus, from 16 cases (100% cured), we went from 16 to 57 cases of coronavirus in two weeks(source in Vietnamese)
With these 4 planes and people returning from risk areas, we are talking about : 28,979 people in quarantine
- of which 440 at the hospital
- 11,557 in quarantine zones (mainly belonging to the army)
- 16,982 at home (or at the hotel)
Vietnam is taking drastic measures because :
- vietnam is right next to China. Vietnam was one of the first countries to allow NO FLIGHT from China, not only from Wuhan but from any Chinese city, even people in transit. I know this because my own flight was cancelled, hence my presence in Europe at the moment. The Vietnamese are perhaps more disciplined than the Europeans in front of the coronavirus because we followed the news much earlier than the Europeans. The very alarming videos coming from China (a person collapsing in the street, bodies piling up in trucks, a Chinese alerting about the exhaustion of the doctors and the lack of infrastructures in Wuhan) have been circulating since January, making the Vietnamese very alert about the progression of the epidemic.
- the country lacks infrastructure. If the number of patients grows exponentially as we can see in China and Italy, there will not be enough beds in hospitals and not enough doctors. In any case, no matter how efficient the health system is, beyond a critical mass, more resources cannot be added to the system (doctors, nurses, available beds, artificial respirators…). The idea is to contain the spread in order to flatten the curve of the number of new cases that arrive in the health system to minimize the impact and unnecessary deaths (those that could be treated under normal circumstances).
- in addition, often 3 generations live under the same roof. Even though young people are more likely to get out, grandparents are at risk and no one wants to contaminate their own family or, worse, be responsible for the death of a loved one.
The Vietnamese understand this and all follow the government’s directives to stay at home (children have not been going to school for almost 2 months) and accept to be quarantined if necessary. There are even songs and choreographies that show how to wash your hands ahahhahaha
During the quarantine period, the government provides food to the affected neighborhoods.
Those who are in quarantine in hospitals or military quarters (high risk people) do not even have to cook themselves: 3 meals served in bed per day in a room with a view & Internet 😀
All positive (and Vietnamese) cases are treated free of charge by the government. Foreigners will have to pay the cost of care in case of a positive test.
Some Vietnamese people are robbing supermarkets, which is absolutely ridiculous, especially in a country that lives on agriculture ! Even my uncle, who has 10 years of higher education, has 100kg of rice and 50kg of coal at home…. !! I frankly don’t agree with these behaviors and the government also denounces it, but you know, in times of crisis… life’s stressors will be even more stressed.
What can tourists do?
Basically, what you can do:
- leave Vietnam (recommended): return to France. At the airport and on the plane, wear gloves and a mask
- postpone your trip to Vietnam (recommended): Air France is currently proposing to postpone your flights until the end of May(source). Vietnam Airlines is significantly reducing flights to/from Europe, if your flight is cancelled you will be fully refunded(source)
- if you want to stay in Vietnam, it is advisable to go to the South, where there are fewer cases and less quarantine zones: Can Tho, Cà Mau etc
- Avoid Binh Thuan, Phan Thiet, Sai Gon and the North: Ninh Binh, Ha Long, Vinh Phuc, among others. Phong Nha, Dong Hoi, Hoi An and Da Nang are also to be avoided. The list is getting longer every day, I won’t be able to update it in time
- Avoid going to the islands because if the island is in quarantine, nobody will let you get out of it even with a lot of money
- Wear masks and if you can’t find one, buy a cloth mask that you can wash every day. I know this isn’t the solution but at least you will be better perceived by the local population. Vietnamese people don’t understand why tourists don’t wear masks. For them, to wear the masks is to protect the community. Whereas in France wearing a mask = “I am sick”
- Since 15/03, the wearing of masks is compulsory in public places.
- If you have any symptoms or doubts, talk to your hotel, a team will come to the hotel to test you for free and take your temperature
- If you are in a quarantined area, you won’t starve either.
In Hanoi, the whole Truc Bach Street being under quarantine, the Ba Dinh district provides everyone with: 3 eggs, 200g of meat or fish, 2 types of vegetables per day and 10kg of rice and a bottle of oil(source in Vietnamese)food is no longer distributed, only money is donated by the city
The Vietnamese trust the government so much that even a Vietnamese woman living in London (case n°32, who was in Milan and in contact with case n°17 in London), whose London hospital refused to test and treat her (because she was feverish but not dying), paid for a private plane to return and be treated in Vietnam(source)
The Vietnamese do not understand the measures taken by European governments. And case n°32 (having to return to Vietnam because she couldn’t get treatment in London) feeds the rumor that all of Europe will be like Italy in a few days. A fake news is circulating on Facebook, saying that Europe wants as many people as possible to be contaminated in order to generate antibodies in the population (group immunity). This fake news has since been denied(source in Vietnamese) but confirmed by French journalists. Seeing tourists walking in the street without masks only reinforces this belief, hence a certain mistrust and/or contempt of which you may have been a victim (sorry).
For 2 days, the case of Italy has been cited as an example not to be followed (when the situation overflows, having to do, as in wartime, “the triage of patients, those – the weakest – that are sacrificed for lack of sufficient artificial respirators”, source in English, source in French), reinforcing the idea that prevention is more important than cure
To explain the confidence the Vietnamese have in the government’s ability to manage this crisis, I will just give you 3 facts:
- vietnam has succeeded in producing a rapid test kit for coronavirus – anyone at risk or suspected of being at risk is entitled to this test. This kit allows Vietnam to no longer rely solely on WHO(source) donated kits and to detect & isolate patients more quickly.
- vietnam was the first country to stop the SARS epidemic in 2003(source). The Vietnamese doctor who set up the SARS treatment protocol is still inVietnam (source in Vietnamese) and is currently participating in research against the coronavirus.
- all tests and quarantines are paid for by the government, which encourages all sick people to report themselves, seek treatment and limit contamination(source in Vietnamese, source n°2 in Vietnamese). Care in case of a positive test for Vietnamese people is free and paid for by the government. Care for foreigners has become paying for the last few days.
After observing the efficiency and assistance of the government during previous quarantine periods (in Vinh Phuc or the quarantine of Vietnamese repatriates from Wuhan, Japan or South Korea thanks to the government), people are no longer afraid of being in quarantine and have total confidence. Some people voluntarily put themselves in quarantine after their trip to Europe or in risk areas when they have no symptoms.
On some Facebook groups (of expats or travelers), some express their doubts about the statistics given by the government (because it did not increase for 2 weeks). On the Vietnamese side, some expressed their doubts as well, but since case n°17 – which deliberately tried to hide the symptoms, by consulting a private doctor, and hiding at home for several days – we have seen that it was impossible to hide anything (except cases where there were no symptoms or not identified as having been in contact with a patient).
I don’t say who is right, who is wrong… I translate and summarize what is said on Vietnamese newspapers and on Facebook so that you have more information. Please no judgments.
I will put links (sources) in English or French as soon as I find them.
I have received some questions regarding the 14-day quarantine fee:
- if you are part of the risk groups: direct contact with a patient (F1), it is likely that you will be transferred to a hospital or military district. Everything will be taken care of by the city, or the army, 3 meals a day for 14 days.
- if you have been indirectly in contact with the sick (F2, F3): you may be asked to be quarantined at home, or at your hotel. The city will take care of you. This amount varies according to the city. For example, Ha Noi will give 100 000VND/person/day and Da Nang 57 000VND/person/day (200 000VND for foreigners).
This means either fresh ingredients (but not cooked) delivered every 2 days, or bentos, or cash (food isn’t distributed anymore, because too many people are in quarantine)… This sum isn’t huge but sufficient to feed the Vietnamese. A hotel manager in Hue sacrificed his 5 star hotel to welcome foreigners in quarantine. Ho Chi Minh City has been instructed to feed for free those in Cu Chi Hospital. They would like to be able to do it for the people in quarantine (at home or at the hotel) – who are certainly not infected with the coronavirus – but they are still waiting for validation. If they have the validation, they will send it to the concerned people later(source in Vietnamese).
According to the French Embassy in Vietnam :
If you are subject to a quarantine or isolation measure, you are invited to: –
Report yourself to the French Embassy by sending an emailto
[email protected]; – Follow scrupulouslythe
instructions of the Vietnamese authorities.
If a positive case of Covid-19 has been identified on your flight or in your hotel, you must: – Stop
all travel to avoid spreading the virus; – Report youto the
French Embassy by sending an email to [email protected]; – Follow scrupulouslythe
instructions of the airline company and the Vietnamese authorities.
Vietnam is still a poor country and has particularly suffered economically from the coronavirus, if nobody delivers the meal in front of your door for a reason xyz, and you have the financial means to pay for your meals, do it, it will allow us to keep some money for other Vietnamese people.
You can have meals delivered via GrabFood, Now Food Delivery… Some consulates and embassies have started to contribute financially to cover expenses related to their citizens. Many Vietnamese in quarantine also offer to pay for their own meals. Thank you to them because there is still a long way to go.
Latest news (14/03): tests & quarantines are still supported by the government for all nationalities.
I hope that you will come back to Vietnam and that we will have the opportunity to welcome you in better conditions
Thank you for your understanding.
Vietnam closes its borders to Europeans
Update 14/03: as of 15/03, Vietnam no longer welcomes tourists coming from Schengen or the United Kingdom or who have been in the area for the last 14 days. The “visas on arrival” are suspended for all nationalities. JB, as the spouse of a Vietnamese woman, had a 5 year visa but even this was cancelled overnight.
Update 16/03 : Only a few planes ensure the repatriation of the Vietnamese who wish to return from Europe (even I am not authorized to take this plane because I have the double nationality). Before boarding the plane, we take their temperature and distribute the masks (to be worn during the whole flight – only dry food is provided in the plane), all the crew is in protective suits. On arrival in Vietnam, their temperature is taken again. Quick tests are carried out for all passengers. Depending on the seriousness of the situation of each one, they are quarantined in different places: tested positive, tested negative with symptoms, tested negative without symptoms… and they do not land at the usual airports but at the suburban airports and transferred directly to the quarantine places. The luggage is disinfected before being returned to the passengers
The Vietnamese Ministry of Health, informs that domestic and international flights in Vietnam have received people contaminated by Covid-19. The Vietnamese authorities are searching all passengers on these flights to test them for the Covid-19 virus in order to prevent any spread of the virus in Vietnam.
If you have been on board the following flights :
TG 564, Thai Airways, from Bangkok to Hanoi on March 15, 2020 SQ
176, Singapore Airlines, having landed at Noi Bai International Airport (Hanoi) on March 15, 2020 VJ 826,
Vietjet Air, from Malaysia to Noi Bai International Airport (Hanoi) on March 4, 2020
TK162, Turkey Airlines, from Istanbul to Ho Chi Minh City on March 8, 2020
QH 1521, Bamboo Airways, from Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc on March 9, 2020 QH
1524, Bamboo Airways, from Phuc Quoc to Ho Chi Minh City on March 13, 2020 SU 290,
Aeroflot, from Moscow to Hanoi on March 12, 2020 QR 970, Qatar
Airways, from Doha to Ho Chi Minh City on March 10, 2020
✈ Flight EK364 of Emirates Airlines from Dubai to Ho Chi Minh City on March 15, 2020;
✈ Flight SU290 of Aeroflot from Moscow to Hanoi on March 15, 2020;✈ Flight
TG560 of Thai Airways from Bangkok to Hanoi on March 15, 2020;
✈ Flight BI 381 of Royal Brunei Airlines from Brunei to Ho Chi Minh City on March 17,2020;✈
Flight EK392 of Emirates Airlines from Dubai to Ho Chi Minh City on March 19,2020;
✈ Flight NH831 of All Nippon Airways (ANA) from Japan to Ho Chi Minh City on March 19,2020;✈
Flight JL751 of Japan Airlines from Tokyo to Hanoi on March 20,2020;
Flight EK 392 of Emirates Airlines from Dubai to Ho Chi Minh city on March 15, 2020;Flight
VJ642 of Vietjet Air from Ho Chi Minh
cityto Da Nang on March 12,
Flight TK 162 of Turkish Airlines from Istanbul to Ho Chi Minh city on March 10, 2020;
Please contact the French Embassy in Vietnam as soon as possible:
– By sending an email to the embassy at the following address: [email protected]–
By calling the embassy’s number: 024 39 44 57 00 (I tell you here how to buy a Vietnamese SIM card)
New! An application has been released in Vietnam to declare the state of your health. Each time you meet someone, open the app for the other person to scan your QR Code. This way, if ever one of the people you met tested positive for Coronavirus, you will know about it quickly. The app is called NCOVI and is available in Vietnamese and English. Download it here: https: //apps.apple.com/vn/app/ncovi/id1501934178