Vietnam not prepared to reopen borders like Sri Lanka

By Easwaran Rutnam

Vietnam is not prepared to reopen its borders like Sri Lanka despite managing to quickly and effectively contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Sarah Bales, visiting Professor at the Hanoi University of Public Health, said that Vietnam authorities have made it clear they are not ready to open their borders and will continue to take precautions.

Dr. Sarah Bales was speaking during a webinar titled ‘COVID-19 Asian Recovery Stories’ where the United Nations in Sri Lanka convened a group of regional academics to share their evidence-based research with Sri Lankan policy makers, influencers in Government, the development community, private sector, civil society and the media, to formulate policy interventions that can be applied to Sri Lanka.

Responding to a question posed by Colombo Gazette on Sri Lanka’s decision to open its borders in August and why Vietnam is not doing the same, Bales said that she had asked the authorities in Vietnam about this and they were clear that they are not prepared to face another wave.

Bales said that Vietnam does not want to open one sector which may then compromise the entire economy.

She said that while Vietnam has lifted restrictions in the country to some extent it is not prepared to allow tourists to visit as yet.

Sri Lanka has already announced it will open its borders in August for tourists to visit Sri Lanka by following strict guidelines.

Dr. Sarah Bales noted the effective steps taken by Vietnam to ensure zero deaths and just 328 cases.

The rapid response has seen economic and social activity return to normal after just a month of social distancing under stay-at-home orders.

Meanwhile, speaking on the launch of the unique convening platform UN Resident Coordinator Hanaa Singer stated “In this current dynamic environment, being agile in identifying, contextualizing, localizing and applying fresh insights is vital for successful policymaking.

The UN in Sri Lanka convened experts to tap into such thinking and promote learning from public policy interventions closer to home.

Director General of Health Services Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage – Additional Secretary to the President for Foreign Relations and a number of others also spoke in the webinar. (Colombo Gazette)