The recent pandemic (Covid-19) has impacted education systems in universities around the world. The impact has been dramatic for institutions, academics, and students looking for workable short term solutions for online teaching and learning. The unique challenge facing higher education encouraged DEN to look for opportunities to stay in contact with students using online facilities. Through the academic initiative, we invited students to meet and organise feasible and appropriate projects at this time. Using Inside Westminster we have agreed that students will write an article and or provide a 5 minutes video of their reflection and experience of Covid-19. We have encouraged students from all over the world to express their stories and share them with each other, hoping that this would provide a channel not only to learn but also to engage with each other. Hence, the following articles in this section are students’ reflections/experiences of Covid-19.
Since the declaration of being a “Global Pandemic” by WHO in late January 2020, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has had a serious impact on the lives of people around the world. While many other countries are struggling to tackle the widespread of the virus, the pace of life of Vietnamese citizens has turned back to normal and peaceful for more than two months. Despite the fact that Vietnam is geographically located in one of the busiest regions with a dense population and surrounded by a lot of “outbreaks” such as China and Singapore, up to the end of July, there were only 464 cases of COVID-19 infection detected (Bộ Y Tế – Trang tin về dịch bệnh viêm đường hô hấp cấp Covid-19, 2020). Even when Vietnam was suspected of hiding its cases data, that false information was then proved to be wrong and Vietnam’s efforts in fighting successfully against the epidemic were globally recognised (Anh, 2020). What are the hidden keys to the extraordinary success of Vietnam in pandemic prevention?
A lot of developed countries are facing difficulties regarding the epidemic, typically in the West, while a developing country with underdeveloped medical infrastructure like Vietnam is fighting successfully against COVID-19. In order to clarify this point, we must mention Vietnam’s anti-epidemic method. The Vietnamese government had been preparing for this pandemic since the end of December 2019 when China provided some information about the occurrence of a new case of pneumonia to WHO. In January 2020, the top medical experts in Vietnam were gathered at a closed meeting to develop an anti-epidemic plan based on reports and statistics from China. In addition, while other countries were subjective to the COVID-19 situation, Vietnam had implemented very strict social isolation from the beginning. The Vietnamese government and authorities instantly put strict quarantine measures and an aggressive testing programme on a wide scale, as well as imposed international border closure. The government had foreseen the damage that this virus can cause, and accepted to give up economic profits for the survival of its people. Vietnam was aware of the fact that, as a developing country, if COVID-19 outbroke on a large scale, it would surely be knocked down in just a short period of time. Coronavirus has proven its destructive power in even the leading developed nations in the world such as The United States of America, Vietnam will not be an exception if COVID-19 creeps deeply into the community. Besides, the epidemic phase began to operate during the Lunar New Year holidays, thus the admission orders of most universities and colleges in major cities had been delayed since the Lunar New Year. Online classes were executed so as to ensure the proper amount of knowledge for students and the completion of the curriculum. When there was an official announcement of reopening schools and universities in May 2020, in which no new case of COVID-19 was recorded, measures to prevent epidemic such as disinfecting classrooms, corridors, departments and requirement of wearing antibacterial masks in class were still strictly applied.
Despite the achievement in the pandemic control, Vietnam needs to be well-prepared in order to face another new wave of outbreaks when Coronavirus mutates in a more complex way and out of prediction. After more than three months in which no case of infection was detected, the Covid-19 epidemic has reappeared in the community, officially from Da Nang since July 25th in Vietnam. This second phase has tremendously affected Vietnam from 464 cases to 1060 infected cases and 27 deaths. According to Vietnamese Health Minister
Nguyen Thanh Long, the coronavirus causing this outbreak is “a newly mutated virus that entered Vietnam increases susceptibility, leading to a high rate of infection” (Việt Nam: Đợt dịch Covid-19 thứ hai dữ dội hơn đợt đầu tiên, 2020).
However, on August 20th, the government announced that the epidemic was controlled with 2 consecutive days of no new infected cases. Hence, we must assure that strict implementation of preventing COVID-19 measures and the ready spirit of seriously dealing with this pandemic is the best for us to confront this dangerous virus.