Vietnam Business Operations and the Coronavirus: Updates

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This article will be updated as further developments in Vietnam become available. 

Latest Updates

  • There have been no new cases apart from the 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far since February 13. However, as of February 20, 15 of the patients have recovered and released after receiving treatment.
  • Around 600 Vietnamese nationals from China are expected to arrive in Dak Lak province. As per standard procedures, they will be quarantined for 14 days as a precaution.
  • Vietnam has eased border restrictions with China to normalize trade. Local inputs indicate that the three main border crossings including Tan Thanh border gate in Lang Son province and Than Thuy border gate in Ha Giang province have resumed operations. However, other border crossings will remain closed until the end of February.
  • Around 2,500 workers of a Korean firm in Ha Nam province went on strike to protest against allowing Chinese staff to return to work.
  • Despite the epidemic, Russian tourists have continued to visit the tourist destination of Nha Trang with just a slight dip compared to last year in the same period.
  • The authorities of almost all provinces and cities have decided to further postpone the reopening of schools and universities until February 29. Authorities in Hanoi are yet to decide if they will reopen schools from February 24. Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have also submitted a proposal to keep schools closed until the end of March.
  • Up to 300 businesses in Vietnam have temporarily suspended operations while others have downsized due to the outbreak.
  • The south-central province of Khanh Hoa, home to the tourist destination of Nha Trang is preparing measures to declare itself virus-free after no new cases were recorded in the past 30 days.
  • The novel coronavirus has been renamed as COVID-19 as per the World Health Organization (WHO). The Co and Vi come from coronavirus, with D meaning disease and 19 for 2019.
  • The authorities have put the commune of Son Lai under lockdown after six cases of the virus were found there. The commune comprises of several villages and is around 40 km north of the capital Hanoi. The quarantine of the commune is expected to last for 20 days.
  • Samsung has stated that its Galaxy phone factories in Vietnam are now operating at full capacity.
  • The Ministry of Finance (MoF) has announced a list of medical supplies including masks, dry hand sanitizers, filters, epidemic prevent suits, among others exempt from tax until the epidemic ends.
  • We are hearing accounts of travelers in more remote border crossings into Vietnam being denied entry if they possess any China visa history in their passport. While this may not be official policy, it appears to be implemented at certain border crossings in more remote areas. If travel into Vietnam is required we recommend using the main border entry-exit points.
  • Dezan Shira & Associates‘, Trent Davies, Manager of our Ho Chi Minh City office, spoke at an AmCham Vietnam event Impact of Novel Coronavirus on Your Health and Business in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. During the event, Trent discussed the broad economic impact of the epidemic in Vietnam, especially in vulnerable industries such as education and tourism. A full summary can be found here.
  • Vietnam issued Decision No.173.QD-TTg declaring coronavirus as an epidemic – in line with the World Health Organization’s declaration of the virus as a global health emergency.
  • The government has ordered the health ministry to supervise and early detect infected cases, monitor border crossings, airports, and seaports, particularly for passengers coming from affected areas.
  • Vietnam’s civil aviation authority suspended all flights to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan on February 1. However, the authority lifted the ban for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan from February 2. Flights to and from mainland China (including transit) remain suspended.
  • Vietnam stopped issuing visas for Chinese tourists on January 30 as a temporary measure. Foreign visitors who have visited China (including transit) in the past 14 days from arrival will also be denied entry into Vietnam.
  • Passenger train services between Vietnam and China have been suspended until further notice, however freight train services between the two countries continue to operate.
  • On February 4, more than 200 passengers from China were denied entry at Ho Chi Minh City airport by border officials. The passengers were sent back on respective flights.
  • The labor ministry has also asked businesses to keep names and other information of Chinese and foreign workers who have visited virus affected areas. In addition, they must be quarantined for two weeks for health checks.
  • Vietnam’s airports have been ordered to deploy additional personnel and coordinate with local health agencies to deploy body temperature scanning equipment as well as a screening of passengers.
  • Building management of some apartment buildings in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have begun body temperature checks for people entering the building.
  • The government has also urged local authorities to limit festivities and gatherings related to the Lunar New Year Holiday.
  • Hanoi authorities have planned two field hospitals in case infections rise.

Impact and Summary

Vietnam has currently declared 16 cases of the coronavirus infection; however, we have concerns that more cases will arise. Chinese nationals arriving in Vietnam will face additional checks and screening, particularly as they return after the Lunar New Year holiday. As mentioned earlier, out of the 16, 15 of the patients have recovered and have been discharged from hospitals.

The virus’s symptoms are respiratory and seem to start with a fever, cough, and shortness of breath gradually. However, in serious cases, it can lead to pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and death.

There is currently no vaccine, so patients are being treated for their symptoms. 

Vietnam’s health ministry has further stated that the fatality rate of the virus is 2 percent as compared to the 9.6 percent of the SARS virus in 2002-2003.

Recent developments indicate that some Chinese travelers may have already been infected but not realized it – the virus appears to have a non-symptomatic 7-14 day incubation period. Further border checks and other travel restrictions are possible given the rapidly evolving developments.

Businesses operating in Vietnam need to prepare for an escalation of the coronavirus in Vietnam and be ready for measures taken by the authorities to get enforced with little or no notice. 

We recommend businesses in Vietnam contact their staff to ascertain where they are and discuss any regional or national advisories concerning travel. Staff experiencing any cough or flu-like symptoms should not return to the office or factory.

We are providing updates and advisories concerning ASEAN (as well as Vietnam) on this article here.

To prepare for business measures in Vietnam, we recommend reading through this article herewhich contains advisory for businesses operating in China, but may also be required should an outbreak extend to affect businesses operating in Vietnam. We strongly advise precautionary measures begin to be taken.

While travel to Vietnam can continue, we recommend taking precautions and following advice from Vietnam’s Ministry of Health.

Basic precautions one can take to reduce their risk to the coronavirus as advised by the World Health Organization (WHO) are:

  • Wash hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub;
  • Cover nose and mouth with tissues or inside of elbow when coughing or sneezing;
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms;
  • Thoroughly cook meat and eggs; and
  • Avoid unprotected contact with live wild or farm animals

We will continue to provide updates as they become available. 

 

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About Us

Vietnam Briefing is produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm assists foreign investors throughout Asia from offices across the world, including in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Readers may write to vietnam@dezshira.com for more support on doing business in Vietnam.

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