BANGKOK, Thailand -- More Americans have died from COVID-19 than were
killed during 16 years of the Vietnam War, a grim milestone coinciding
with Hanoi officially reporting zero deaths from the coronavirus.

"Fighting the epidemic is like fighting against the enemy," the
Communist Party of Vietnam declared.

As of April 29, at least 58,365 Americans have died from the virus,
according to Johns Hopkins University, CNN reported.

At least 58,220 Americans were killed in the region-wide Vietnam War,
starting with two American advisors in 1959 and ending in 1975 when
U.S. forces retreated in defeat.

For both nations' COVID-19 tolls to be proportionately equal,
America's 58,365 deaths among its 329 million population would be
matched if 17,166 died among Vietnam's 97 million citizens.

Vietnam recorded zero coronavirus deaths as of April 28, the
government's National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and
Control said. Another 270 cases proved positive.

Vietnam's real toll could be higher, but may still be among the
healthiest rates in the world.

"Our team up in Hanoi is working very, very closely with their
Ministry of Health counterparts," said the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention's representative in Thailand, John MacArthur.

"The communications I've had with my Vietnam team is that at this
point in time, [they] don't have any indication that those numbers are
false," Mr. MacArthur said, according to U.S. National Public Radio.

Despite America's position and resources as a superpower, compared
with the Vietnam's status as a developing country, Washington did not
move as fast as Hanoi in responding to COVID-19's potential threat in
the beginning, losing valuable time which contributed to the large
U.S. death toll.

The U.S. also did not coordinate the information in their health and
safety messages to the public, or blanket the country with broadcasts,
print media, street posters and other ubiquitous warnings and
reminders which Hanoi did on a scale reflecting its mass mobilization
efforts during the war.

Hanoi's impressive twin successes against America during the war and
the current spread of the coronavirus involved commanding citizens to
act, manipulating Vietnamese media, and controlling public and private

The Communist Party's tight control on then-North Vietnam, and on
today's united Vietnam, also enabled Hanoi to act with scarce funds.

On April 23, some offices, shops, restaurants, hotels, tourist sites,
sports venues and other places in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and
elsewhere, reopened for the first time since scattered lockdowns began
on April 1.

The government relaxed the nationwide lockdown because no new
infections were reported since April 16, a success which continued on
April 27.

High-risk places such as beauty parlors, festivals, zoos and other
businesses where people easily mingle, remained shut on April 27.

The provinces of Bac Ninh and Ha Giang and some neighborhoods in the
capital Hanoi also remained under partial lockdown.

“We need to learn to adapt to live with the pandemic,” Vietnamese
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc announced.

“We must not let it destroy our economy or our country. We need to put
our people’s lives first and continue to take drastic measures to
control the disease.”

The government's new "live together safely" strategy allows people to
work but they must maintain social distancing, frequently wash their
hands, and submit to health checks when traveling between provinces.

International flights remain curbed but some air travel and public
transport within Vietnam was beginning again.

"Passengers are requested to refrain from talking and eating, and wear
face masks on public vehicles," the Vietnam Government Portal's news

Schools were scheduled to soon restart.

The U.S. however responded with a patchwork of lockdowns with varying
restrictions, with some states and major cities relatively unaffected
by mandatory controls while other states and large cities ordered the
public to remain indoors for varying lengths of time.

Those uneven responses also began on different days, allowing the
coronavirus to spread from locations that eventually did lockdown  and
infect places which remained open.

Vietnam's strategy and medical staff also benefited from lessons
learned from dealing with previous China-borne and cross-border
diseases, such as SARS, bird flu, and swine flu.

Vietnam's timeline reveals its winning strategy.

On January 16, the Heath Ministry alerted government officials how to
stem an expected virus outbreak.

The ministry told hundreds of Vietnam's hospitals and clinics on
January 21 to prepare.

Hanoi cancelled flights to and from Wuhan on January 23 when
Vietnamese doctors confirmed two Chinese citizens had traveled around
the country after flying in from Wuhan on January 13.

A National Steering Committee on Epidemic Prevention was established
on January 30 when the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed the
virus was a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern."

Early in February, Hanoi began warning the public and created an
informational website in the Internet-savvy country.

Selective lockdowns cleared Hanoi's crowded streets and some other
cities and villages, while allowing people to shop for food and

In mid-March police began issuing fines for not wearing a mask in
public, threatened imprisonment if a maskless person infected anyone,
and banned gatherings of 20 or more people.

Hanoi began quarantining villages in February whenever they reported
COVID-19 cases.

Teams went door-to-door in neighborhoods suspected of having infections.

"We go to each and every alley, knocking on each and every door,"
Nguyen Trinh Than told the French news agency Agence-France Presse.

WHO's Western Pacific Regional Director Takeshi Kasai said last week,
"They're really doing their part," by quarantining about 80,000

"I think that's the reason why they were able to continue to keep the
number [of infections] small."

Tens of thousands of people, including arriving visitors and citizens,
were quarantined in guarded dormitory camps dotted throughout Vietnam.

Soldiers left breakfast, lunch and dinner outside each room.

Vietnam stopped overland travel in mid-March to and from China, which
shares an 870-mile border with northern Vietnam.

By March, officials were also monitoring incoming international
passengers, and banned all foreign entries after March 22, except for
Vietnamese citizens returning home and other individuals, who all had
to undergo a two-week quarantine.

When Hanoi's prestigious Bach Mai Hospital and, in Ho Chi Minh City,
the Buddha Bar were identified as clusters of infection, a widespread
lockdown was declared on April 1.

Hanoi's success, compared to Washington's inability, comes on the 45th
anniversary of the U.S. defeat in Vietnam, displaying once again the
impressive, unexpected strength of the small nation which still
suffers scars and losses from the war.