In an exclusive story, Peter Rimmer, executive director of the British Business Group in Vietnam, discussed his experience of being placed into isolation and deliverd an honest assessment of the efforts being taken by the nation to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and to ensure the safety of the wider community.

1. Day to Day living in the quarantine area is calm. The day evolves around sitting / resting on the bunk beds provided. In my case that means 8 beds in the room. 6 are occupied by Vietnamese and 1 by another Englishman. Upper bed is used for storage of belongings and the lower bed for sitting and sleeping. There are two showers and toilets to each room. After showering there is a wait for the provided breakfast.

The food is well cooked and good quality. I certainly have NO complaint by the standard of the food provided. After breakfast we wait for the first temperature test of the day, hoping it is not raised to show any sign of fever. So far on day 5 all of us have been OK. Most of the time is then spent on emails, social media activity. Contact with friends and family is important.

The day is further broken up by lunch and dinner. Food time take on a new importance to the structure of the day. During the early morning and early evening the central courtyard is used for some sport activities including football, badminton, basketball and Da Cau. The centre is kept clean and tidy with the Army boys clearing away rubbish daily as it does build up. 

2. Being away from family, friends and work is a little stressful. There is also the unknown as to whether you have Covid-19 or indeed any of the roommates or people you meet. So far that has not been the case but remains an item of concern as I am sure it does for people outside of the quarantine too. Although not busy tiredness does affect us and more take sleep breaks during the day too.

3. The doctors and indeed all the staff are extremely friendly and helpful. The really are being exceptionally helpful. I wish we could show our thanks more to them but language barrier makes that difficult. They must be tired themselves but the don’t show this. This helps to keep the Centre calm.

The procedures are changing and improving. For example at the temperature checks the nurses and doctors call us to the doorway instead of entering the room. A wise move to reduce close person contact. The people delivering the meals are also friendly and helpful.

Of course there are also many people helping the quarantine process we as ‘guests’ do not see but their skill and commitment is clear for the smooth running of the centre.

The Army are seen around the centre and they are helping immensely to and manage to keep their presence to a feeling of support rather than enforced control. They too deserve much thanks and appreciation of their professional involvement

4. My family is indeed split between Vietnam and the UK. They do worry about me being in quarantine, as would only be expected. I am pleased to explain that I am being well looked after and in a good place to be. The worry is more about the unknown rather than concern of the facilities and care being provided. The stay is hopeful just for 14 days in total but care is still required after this period ensure on going safety.

5. I communicate via social media and some telephone calls with all my family. This is a regular throughout the day. Whilst I have been in quarantine it seems even more important to keep my family informed about what is happening and also to hear about the wider issues of the Covid -19 virus that they are facing to. They are all pleased I am back in Vietnam and being treated well and carefully here. My wife has been exceptional at ensuring I have things that I needed especially light clothing which was required as all I had was winter clothing with me from my trip to the UK. I do miss her reassurances that all will be OK.

6. It was very much my decision to return to Vietnam and I am pleased I did so and with the full support of my family both in the UK and Vietnam. Had I not changed my return to any earlier date it would have been very difficult if not impossible to return to Vietnam which is now what I am a pleased to call my home.

With the tightening of visas and flights I would be cautious of advising others to return to Vietnam. Though for Vietnamese citizens I can fully understand their wish to return home like I did. Vietnam appears to have addressed the Covid virus very well and indeed has set a mark for the rest of the world to follow.

From what I have read the situation in the UK and indeed many other countries is getting much worse. I hope that they learn from what Vietnam has achieved so far. As the situation in the UK has deteriorated even since I left I do worry for family and friends in the UK.

Finally I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all the people in Vietnam who have helped and assisted with my stay in quarantine it is really hard to explain just how much it is appreciate. The country I love and now am fortunate enough to call home is doing its best to protect not only me but also it wider citizen. For that I will always be grateful.