UPDATED: February 18, 2020
The first confirmed cases of COVID-19 appeared in Vietnam on Jan. 23, 2020. Of the confirmed infections in Vietnam to date, 13 are Vietnamese, two are Chinese and one is American.
The confirmed infections were found in the northern province of Vinh Phuc (11), in Ho Chi Minh City (3), Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa province (1), and Thanh Hoa (1).
Vietnam’s Prime Minister officially declared COVID-19 an epidemic in Vietnam on Feb. 1, 2020. Although confirmed cases remain low within the country, authorities are taking swift and strict preventative measures to contain the virus. The government has formed a National Steering Committee to direct efforts and communicate to the public.
In addition to these, many private Vietnamese businesses, residential complexes and tourist accommodations have installed their own preventative measures to keep customers safe.
Since February 1, all flights to and from mainland China on all airlines have been indefinitely suspended by the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam. Flights transiting through China are likewise denied entry to Vietnam at this time. Flights connecting to Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan are operational with many airlines running reduced routes.
All visitors are required to comply with regulations on epidemic prevention and health inspections upon landing in Vietnam’s airports. Non-Vietnamese nationals who have transited through mainland China within the past 14 days will be refused entry to Vietnam.
Vietnam Airlines and Jetstar Pacific have announced they will temporarily waive flight change and refund fees for passengers flying to or from Chinese cities until further notice.
Read more: A traveller's guide to Vietnam's airports
Vietnam's tourism attractions and heritage sites remain open to the public. With the exception of a small handful of cities that have registered infections, Vietnam's destinations remain virus-free and are safe to visit. Travellers can still take tours of Ha Long Bay and Hoi An Ancient Town, and public attractions such as museums remain open to visitors.
A number of festivals and events in Vietnam have been cancelled or postponed in alignment with the government’s directive to avoid public gatherings. Among the cancelled festivals this year are Yen Thu Festival in Quang Ninh, Tam Chuc Festival in Ha Nam, Tran Temple Festival in Nam Dinh and the Huyen Tran Festival in Hue. Activities for Visit Vietnam Year 2020 in Ninh Binh, Hoa Lu have been postponed to a more appropriate time.
Pedestrian and walking zones in Hue and Hanoi — common gathering places for locals and tourists — will be closed until the situation improves.
Travellers in Vietnam are encouraged to take sensible precautions against COVID-19 during their trips.
The World Health Organization outlines these basic practices to keep yourself and your loved ones safe:
Avoid travelling if you have a fever and cough. If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, alert health care services and share with them your recent travel history.
Maintain social distancing. Stay a metre or more away from others, especially those who are sneezing or coughing, or have fever.
Wash your hands regularly with soap and running water. You can also use an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer to spray your hands as often as you like.
Cover your mouth and nose with tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of dirty tissues immediately and wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
Avoid contact with live animals. Wash your hands with soap and water if you touch live animals or animal products in markets.
Eat only well-cooked food. Make sure your meals especially animal proteins and dairy products are thoroughly cooked and prepared in a sanitary environment.
Discard single-use masks. If you choose to wear a single-use mask, ensure it covers your nose and mouth, avoid touching the mask, and wash your hands after removing it.
Any travellers experiencing symptoms of the virus — fever, cough and difficulty breathing — should immediately call Vietnam’s health hotline: +84 19003228.
Read more: Health and safety in Vietnam
Travellers looking for updated statistics on COVID-19 can use the Coronavirus app.
Updates from Vietnamese government: http://chinhphu.vn/portal/page/portal/English
News updates from Vietnam Tourism: https://vietnam.travel/media-industry