Viet Nam's 'prominent' in COVID-19 control and prevention

14/12/2021| 21:31

Singapore's Ambassador to Viet Nam Jaya Ratnam shared with his thoughts on the prominent role of diplomacy in COVID-19 control and prevention, with details into the Singapore - Viet Nam relations.

Viet Nam's 'prominent' in COVID-19 control and preventionViet Nam's Deputy Foreign Minister and Singapore’s Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs Chee Wee Kiong co-chaired the 14th political consultation between the two nations via videoconference on November 9, 2021.

How do you evaluate the COVID-19 prevention and control of the Vietnamese Government? What is the role of Viet Nam’s diplomacy in this work? In your opinion, how has the complicated situation of the COVID-19 pandemic affected the cooperation between Viet Nam and Singapore over the past time?

The Vietnamese government’s response to COVID-19 has been impressive and more importantly impactful in addressing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting all of us – the Vietnamese and foreign community here. Throughout the pandemic, Viet Nam has fought hard to control and then reduce the spread of the virus and bolster significantly medical capacity to keep COVID-19-related hospitalisations and deaths to a minimum. What is particularly striking is the rapid and accelerating vaccine rollout in Viet Nam since March 2021, which testifies to the government’s capacity and resolve to proactively shift the country safely into a new normal.

Diplomacy has played a prominent role throughout this global public health crisis. Starting from the early days of the pandemic, Viet Nam’s diplomacy facilitated the timely exchange of information and best practices between countries and their governments at crucial junctures. To this end, Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Minh Vu and Singapore’s Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs Chee Wee Kiong had a videoconference in September 2021 to share experiences in managing COVID-19. Diplomacy has also channelled practical expressions of friendship and solidarity in the form of donations and transfers of medical supplies, drugs, and vaccines between countries.

In our respective times of need, Singapore and Viet Nam have helped each other through donations of medical equipment to each other. Most importantly, diplomacy has enabled collective action towards reopening, recovery, and resilience. Under Viet Nam’s 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship, for instance, ASEAN established mechanisms to soften the negative impact on our communities, such as the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund, Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies, and Comprehensive Recovery Framework.

The pandemic has compelled adjustments to the way Viet Nam and Singapore cooperate. Some have been beneficial. We have taken greater advantage of technology to convene meetings and conferences online. The 13th and 14th iterations of the Singapore-Viet Nam Bilateral Consultations were held online in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

On the other hand, the pandemic has also reduced opportunities in other areas, such as travel for business, education, visiting family, and leisure from both sides. Despite these challenges, political and economic ties are flourishing. Singapore Foreign Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan visited Ha Noi in June 2021 to meet top leaders. Singapore was also in 2020 and the first eleven months of 2021 the largest foreign investor in Viet Nam, which demonstrates the confidence we have in Viet Nam’s resilience and prospects.

Viet Nam's 'prominent' in COVID-19 control and preventionSingapore's Ambassador to Viet Nam Jaya Ratnam.

It can be seen that medical cooperation in preventing and controlling COVID-19 has become a highlight in the ties between the two countries. With regard to the new risk posed by the Omicron variant, what should Viet Nam and Singapore do to promote epidemic prevention and control, as well as to secure the rights and interests of the two countries?

The World Health Organization has classified Omicron as a variant of concern. Studies are still being conducted to establish its transmissibility, incubation period, infectious duration, severity of illness, and the efficacy of existing vaccines. Singapore and Viet Nam have learnt many lessons from dealing with earlier waves of the virus and are now closely monitoring developments and findings on the new variant.

In meantime, we are stepping up surveillance and strengthening protocols in the form of testing, tracing, and quarantine, shoring up healthcare capacity, and accelerating vaccine rollout. This is a necessary, responsible, and prudent response to safeguard the health and lives of our people, while permitting business activity and social interactions in a safe manner.

Both sides continue to work closely together to coordinate our responses to the pandemic to better support each other to navigate the winding path towards a new normal.

By Minh Quan