Given the excellent management of the coronavirus emergency and the limited spread of the disease, the Catholic community in Vietnam has been able to resume celebrating the Eucharist. As Agenzia Fides learned, on April 24, the Bishop of Vinh, Mgr. Alphonse Nguyên Huu Long, allowed the priests to resume celebrating mass “to meet the spiritual needs of Catholics and the strong desire for the Eucharist”. So far the services were only online, but since April 25, explained the Prelate, three dioceses in Vietnam (Vinh, Ha Tinh, and My Tho) were able to return to a sort of “semi-normalcy” after the government loosened anti-coronavirus measures. However, the Bishop of Vinh (diocese with about 290,000 faithful) asked the priests to celebrate short masses, with a small presence of the faithful and to respect social distancing, also limiting the celebration of two masses on weekdays and four on Sundays.
The orders given by Church leaders, which offers great signs of hope to the Catholic faithful in Vietnam, was possible because in the last ten days Vietnam did not report an increase of virus cases, except for two young students who returned from Japan where they were there for study reasons, proved positive and were immediately isolated. One of the Southeast Asian countries bordering China – and therefore much closer than others to the initial epicenter of the world pandemic – can, therefore, boast a very satisfactory result: Vietnam now has a total number of infected patients nationwide of 270 with an almost equivalent number of discharged and above all zero deaths. It is among the few countries in the world that have reached this result, despite having been among the first to register the virus that left the Chinese borders on 23 January. Currently, nearly 70 thousand people are in quarantine and over 350 are housed in special healthcare facilities.
Vietnam, like other countries, has reported cases in patients who did not come from China but who contracted the virus from someone else who had visited Wuhan, as probably happened to the two students returning from Japan. Nonetheless, the small but densely populated Asian country has put in place very early lockdown measures that have prevented the spread of Covid-19: selective lockdowns – in part still active – which have led to total closures of entire areas or villages. This model of “controlled management”, and also entrusted to the responsibility of individuals and the strong sense of responsibility of each individual towards the entire community, was then followed by other countries in the area.
In Vietnam, there are over 6 million and 300 thousand Catholics, which is 7% of the population of 95 million inhabitants in a Country.