For skeptics, Vietnam's official numbers may seem too good to be true. But Guy Thwaites, an infectious doctor who works at one of the most important hospitals designated by the Vietnamese government to treat Covid-19 patients, said the numbers matched the reality on the ground.
"I go to the departments every day, I know the cases, I know there has been no death," said Thwaites, who also heads the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Ho Chi Minh City.
"If you had over-reported or uncontrolled community transmission, then we would be seeing cases in our hospital, people coming in with breast infections may not have been diagnosed – it never happened," he said.
So how has Vietnam apparently broken the global trend and largely escaped the scourge of coronavirus? The answer, according to public health experts, lies in a combination of factors, from the government's prompt, early response to preventing dissemination, to strict contact tracking and quarantine and effective public communication.
Vietnam began preparing for a coronavirus outbreak weeks before the first case was discovered.
At that time, the Chinese authorities and the World Health Organization had both maintained that there was no "clear evidence" for human-to-human transmission. But Vietnam took no chances.
"We were not just waiting for WHO guidelines. We used the data we collected from outside and in (the country to) decide early to take action," said Pham Quang Thai, deputy head of the infection control department at the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Hanoi.
Thwaites, the infectious expert in Ho Chi Minh City, said the speed of Vietnam's response was the main reason for its success.
"Their actions in late January and early February were very much ahead of many other countries. And it was enormously helpful … for them to be able to keep control," he said.
Careful Contact Tracking
The crucial early actions effectively curbed the transfer of society and kept Vietnam's confirmed cases at just 16 by February 13. For three weeks there were no new infections – until the second wave hit in March, brought by Vietnamese returning from abroad.
Authorities carefully tracked the contacts of confirmed coronavirus patients and placed them in a mandatory two-week quarantine.
"We have a very strong system: 63 provincial CDCs (Centers for Disease Control), more than 700 district-level CDCs, and more than 11,000 municipal health stations. All of them attribute contact tracking," Dr. Pham said with National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.
A confirmed coronavirus patient must provide the health authorities with an exhaustive list of all the people he or she has met for the past 14 days. Messages are placed in newspapers and broadcast on television to inform the public about where and when a coronavirus patient has been, asking people to go to health authorities to test if they have also been there at the same time, Pham said.  A woman is queuing up to get a trial at a makeshift probation center near Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi on March 31. "data-src-mini =" // cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200529180157-06-vietnam-coroanvirus-small-169.jpg "data-src-xsmall =" // cdn.cnn.com /cnnnext/dam/assets/200529180157-06-vietnam-coroanvirus-medium-plus-169.jpg "data-src-small =" http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200529180157-06- vietnam-coroanvirus-large-169.jpg "data-src-medium =" // cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200529180157-06-vietnam-coroanvirus-exlarge-169.jpg "data-src-large = "// cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200529180157-06-vietnam-coroanvirus-super-169.jpg" data-src-full16x9 = "// cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets /200529180157-06-vietnam-coroanvirus-full-169.jpg "data-src-mini1x1 =" // cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200529180157-06-vietnam-coroanvirus-small-11.jpg " data-demand-load = "not-loaded" data-eq-pts = "mini: 0, xsmall: 221, small: 308, medium: 461, large: 781" src = "data: image / gif; base64, R0lGODlhEAAJAJEAAAAAAP /////// wAAACH5BAEAAAIALAAAAAAQAAkAAAIKlI + py + 0Po5yUFQA7 "/>