Weeks ago, when the coronavirus (COVID-19) was just getting started with its mischief, the country of Vietnam was already light years ahead of most other countries in fighting what they could see would be a very serious spread of disease.
They immediately shut down schools. Many Vietnamese started to wear protective masks, with the understanding that the deadly virus could be given to us but also inadvertently spread to others even with no symptoms.
I was reluctant at first to wear a mask. I had read so many reports claiming that masks were only useful when one had already contracted the virus (but of course we now know that most who give the virus to others don’t even know it). I also found it to be a bit silly, especially as I continued to observe so many not washing their hands but wearing masks.
Fast forwarding to today, it is clear that Vietnam has been INCREDIBLE in their battle against the spread – especially a couple of weeks back, after the virus had basically disappeared and one infected person came from Italy and started infecting those around her. Vietnam immediately took action, finding out all people who had been in contact, coordinating with the airline and locking down places needing lockdown. No nonsense.
To date, Vietnam still has no virus-related deaths and very few cases, while the US and Europe are falling apart due to arrogance (by SOME of my own countrymen). And as one who formerly downplayed the importance of wearing facial protection – whether infected or not – I am sorry for having had the attitude that masks are silly and an overreaction.
Here’s to proudly wearing masks from now on and doing our part not to spread the virus to others. And let’s all wash our hands regularly!
It is a bummer that Vietnam has now blocked foreigners from entering, but it is completely understandable given what is happening in so many countries outside now. Meanwhile, I really hope the countries currently suffering will heal soon. Everyone, please loosen up the ego a bit, suck it up and do what’s right for humanity during this time of crisis.
P.S. – It is a very sad time for the history books when the careless actions of people who refuse to listen to the reality of this pandemic cause it to get so much worse, thereby also affecting economies globally.
In Vietnam, for instance, where people work SO hard to get by, it is that much more poignant to see businesses closed as a result. Our selfish actions reverberate the world over. After the tragic deaths, this is the most important point to remember, in my humble opinion.
Words and image by Olivier Ochanine, an expat in Vietnam | The opinions expressed here are his own