Vietnam tops ASEAN in Optimism Index amid COVID-19
Vietnam scored 62.4 points compared to 53.8 in Malaysia, 52.7 in Singapore, 52 in Thailand, and 49.6 in Indonesia.
Compared with ASEAN peers, Vietnam ranked the highest on the index with a score of 62.4 out of maximum 100, well ahead of Malaysia with 53.8, Singapore 52.7, Thailand 52.0, and Indonesia 49.6.
The UOB Optimism Index, derived from the Bank’s UOB ASEAN Consumer Sentiment Study, measures how concerned consumers are about rising COVID-19 infections, continued restrictions on gatherings and travel, the economic impact of the pandemic and their personal financial well-being and outlook.
For the study’s inaugural run in July 2020, more than 3,500 respondents from five ASEAN countries, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, were interviewed. In Vietnam, 620 people from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City responded to the study.
Mr Harry Loh, Chief Executive Officer of UOB Vietnam, said, “Our research indicates that Vietnamese are positive about the overall future outlook, even as they experienced changes in their lifestyles and habits due to social distancing measures. Eight in ten Vietnamese (81%) said they expect life to go back to the way it was by end 2021, the highest share of respondents compared with other countries in ASEAN. Their optimism, the highest in the region, could be due to Vietnam’s relative success at containing the spread of the COVID-19, which has set a strong foundation for the recovery of the economy.”
Posting a growth rate of 2.9% in 2020, Vietnam was one of the few economies in the world to secure positive growth and is set to become the fourth largest in ASEAN based on the International Monetary Fund’s 2020 forecasts.
UOB Global Economics and Markets Research estimates the country to achieve 7.1% growth for 2021.
In addition, the recent development of Vietnam-manufactured vaccines Nanocovax and Covivac against SARS-CoV-2 has fuelled hopes for vaccination roll-out, lifting of social restrictions and a faster return to normalcy.
In terms of generation, the UOB Optimism Index shows that Baby Boomers in Vietnam are most optimistic about their future (67.7), followed by Generation X (65.2) and Generation Y (59.8).
This result for Vietnam is unique because for the rest of the region, Baby Boomers have shown to be the least optimistic. A possible reason for this could be that the Baby Boomer generation in Vietnam grew up in tumultuous times, building their resilience and shaping their mindset of perseverance and progression.
When asked to describe their sentiments and mood amid the pandemic, more Baby Boomers chose positive words such as “hopeful” (43%), “relieved” (35%) and “happy” (29%). In comparison, fewer Generation X respondents expressed the same positivity, with 38%, 23%, and 23% choosing the sentiments respectively. The percentages were lower for Generation Y at 28%, 22%, and 11%, respectively.
Regarding personal finance, Vietnamese are certain that they will be better off in a year’s time, with 72% of them saying that they will be financially better, with optimism broad-based across the different age groups. Vietnam also topped the region in this area, ahead of 57% for Malaysia, 52% in Thailand, 47% in Indonesia, and 41% in Singapore.
UOB, a leading bank in Asia with a global network of more than 500 offices in 19 countries and territories in Asia Pacific, Europe and North America, has operated in Vietnam in 1993 and was the first Singapore bank to launch a branch in the country in 1995.
Hanoi calls on residents to stay home to prevent Covid-19 spread
Hanoi City has called on residents to stay home and go out only if necessary to effectively prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Hanoi Chairman Chu Ngoc Anh today, February 4, signed a directive ordering drastic Covid-19 infection prevention measures due to the complicated development of the pandemic.
Residents should wear face masks, avoid mass gatherings, maintain a safe physical distance of at least one meter and regularly wash hands when going out, said the municipal government.
In an effort to contain Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, the city also decided to suspend public cultural, sporting and religious events which attract many people and asked residents and firms not to hold year-end parties to minimize gatherings.
Earlier, the city had temporarily shut down nonessential businesses such as bars, karaoke and massage parlors in the city until further notice.
The municipal government also encouraged coffee shops, eateries, restaurants and vendors to sell take-away food and drinks, the local media reported.
Since January 29, Hanoi City has reported 21 community transmitted Covid-19 cases, with 20 cases being linked to Hai Duong Province’s Chi Linh coronavirus hotspot and the remaining one related to the hotspot of the Van Don International Airport in Quang Ninh Province.
Eight-month-old baby in Binh Duong tests positive for Covid-19
An eight-month-old girl in Binh Duong Province, whose mother is Vietnam’s 1,886th Covid-19 patient, tested positive for the coronavirus this morning, February 4.
Nguyen Hong Chuong, director of the provincial Health Department, said the baby is the fifth case linked to the 1,801st patient as her mother had close contact with the case. The baby had previously been quarantined, so she did not pose a risk of community transmission.
The baby remained a suspected case as the Health Ministry had yet to confirm her as a coronavirus patient.
All of the five cases linked to the 1,801st patient are residents of Ca Na Hamlet, An Binh Commune, Phu Giao District, in this southern province. This led to 388 local households with over 1,500 residents in the hamlet being put under lockdown starting from January 31.
In related news, at the Binh Duong General Hospital, patients under treatment at the Department of Traumatology and Orthopaedics, who had come into close contact with the 1,843rd coronavirus patient, and medical staff at the departments of Traumatology and Orthopaedics and Neurosurgery tested negative for the virus this morning. The lockdown imposed on the two departments was then lifted.
Up to now, 524 cases linked to the 1,843rd patient, who is studying at the Thu Dau Mot University, have tested negative.
Khanh Hoa: Sick foreign sailor brought ashore for treatment
A ship was dispatched by the Nha Trang Maritime Rescue Cooperation Centre (Nha Trang MRCC) early on February 4 to bring ashore a foreign sailor fallen ill aboard a Marshall Islands-registered vessel.
Nha Trang MRCC Director Nguyen Xuan Binh said Daviron Maglaccion, a Philippine national, was on board the bulk carrier Echo.Gr en route from Singapore to China.
A day earlier, when the ship was navigating through waters about 200 km southeast of Nha Trang in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa, the 32-year-old suffered stomach pains so severe he could neither eat nor drink. The ship then requested Vietnamese assistance to care for the sailor.
The man’s health deteriorated, he continued, adding that it was a life-threatening situation.
Once ashore, he was immediately taken to the Khanh Hoa provincial General Hospital for emergency care.
Binh added that the Vietnamese ship strictly complied with preventive rules against COVID-19 during the rescue mission./.
Certain train services canceled due to Covid-19
The Vietnam Railway Corporation (VNR) canceled a number of train trips scheduled for the Lunar New Year holiday, Tet, as scores of people changed or returned their booked train tickets amid fears over the resurgence of Covid-19.
According to VNR, the SE29 train departing from Hanoi station on February 8 will stop at Vinh station.
VNR will also stop certain other trains from operating comprising the SE30 departing from Saigon station on February 10, 19, and 20; the SE16 leaving Saigon station on February 19 and 20; the SE10 from Saigon station on February 27 and 28; the SE29 from Hanoi on February 21 and 22 and the SE15 from the Vinh station on February 20 and 21.
The passengers of canceled trains will be allowed to take their trips on other trains, said Tran Van Nam, head of VNR’s transportation department.
Earlier, the railway sector had provided optimal support for passengers who wanted to change or return the train tickets they had purchased to come home for the holiday.
For tickets bought from February 2 to 28, passengers were offered two options.
For the ticket change, VNR will keep the tickets for passengers for one year starting from the departure date printed on the tickets. Passengers will not be charged if they want to change the time of and reroute their trips. They only need to pay for the fare difference, if any.
Passengers requiring a ticket change should go to ticket counters at railway stations to get their tickets retained. The sector will pay the fare difference and refunds to passengers starting January 1, 2022.
Further, to share the pandemic-triggered financial burden with the railway sector, refunds for returned tickets will be conducted 90 days from the date passengers returned the tickets.
ASEANTA seeks border reopening scheme
The ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA) will press for a border reopening scheme among the bloc’s10 member states at the 24th meeting of ASEAN tourism ministries on February 4.
The Bangkok Post quoted ASEANTA President Mingkwan Metmowlee as saying that the association, which includes the private sector and national tourism organisations (NTOs) of the 10 member states, will call for the resumption of tourism by the first or second quarter of this year as the industry is on the brink of collapse and needs urgent action.
More than 70 percent of tourism jobs in the region will be lost if the borders remain closed, but once tourism picks up, the region will face another crisis – a labour shortage, said Mingkwan.
ASEANTA suggested every country prepare for border reopening by drafting a regional framework for cross-border travel, standard operational procedures for the whole tourism ecosystem, and guidelines on testing and vaccination within the first quarter.
The association proposed that within the first half of the year, countries in Southeast Asia should start by considering business travellers from within the region, as well as China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, which are ASEAN’s dialogue partners.
Mingkwan said the region can consider city-to-city travel agreements in the initial stage. For leisure tourists, 10 countries should support the resumption of all types of travel by October.
She added that the private sector in many countries, such as Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia, agree with the digital health passport proposal as some of them have already invested in digital contact tracing mechanisms, such as MyTrace in Malaysia and TraceTogether in Singapore./.
New Zealand Embassy, CARE provide financial support to female workers
|Representatives at the support providing ceremony. — Photo courtesy of CARE International in Vietnam|
They are currently working with JupViec.vn, a technology company providing on-demand house cleaning services via a mobile phone app.
The partnership between the New Zealand Embassy and CARE International in Việt Nam supports workers in the informal economy to ease their financial burden and strengthen their resilience during the pandemic.
“This project demonstrates the strong partnership between New Zealand and Việt Nam,” said New Zealand Chargé d’Affaires Joseph Mayhew.
“This is a practical initiative to help ease the economic impacts of COVID-19 on migrant workers and their families, who are among the most economically vulnerable groups during the pandemic.”
“We believe that supporting female informal workers is supporting those among the hardest hit by the pandemic, but also those at the forefront of economic recovery. Their resilience and micro-entrepreneurship are vital to a robust recovery that is inclusive and equitable,” said Lê Kim Dung, Country Director, CARE International in Việt Nam.
“2020 was an unprecedented year with COVID-19’s economic fallout permeating all layers of society, especially those with little to cushion the persistent shocks and disruptions. I thank the New Zealand Embassy and CARE for your timely and meaningful direct support to our workers, not only during the peak period but also during recovery. We believe that a healthy, skilled and resilient workforce is vital to businesses such as ourselves and the local economy as we bolster efforts to pull through risks from COVID-19 resurgence and ensure a quick and strong recovery.” said Phan Hồng Minh, CEO, JupViec.vn.
Hanoi banking staff tested positive for Covid-19
A female banking staff member in Hanoi tested positive for Covid-19 today, February 4, according to the Hanoi Centre for Disease Control.
The woman works at a branch of Public Bank on Tran Huy Lieu Street, Dong Da District. She lives at an apartment building at 88 Lang Ha Street, Hanoi. On January 27, she met Patient 1883 who works at a notary office on Duy Tan Street in Hanoi’s Cau Giay District. Both of them did wear a face mask. The man then tested positive for Covid-19 on February 2.
Between January 27 and February 2, the woman still came to her office to work as normal. On February 3, she was taken to a quarantine site in Hoang Mai District.
Patient 1883, 41, who lives in Lac Trung Street, Hanoi’s Hai Ba Trung District, travelled by air between Hanoi and HCM City. He also visited several different places.
The Hanoi Department of Health has issued a report to look for nearly 4,000 passengers who took the two flights on Hanoi-HCM City with him on January 29.
Northern and north-central regions anticipated for heavy rain ahead of Tet
Heavy rainfall is forecast to strike northern and north-central regions from February 8 to February 9, or the 27th to the 28th day of the final lunar month ahead of the Lunar New Year festival or Tet.
The National Hydro-meteorological Forecast Centre has also warned of the possibility of whirlwinds, lightning, and strong winds impacting northern areas.
The phenomenon is set to be accompanied by a cold snap, whilst temperatures in northern and north-central regions will be between 15 degrees Celsius to 21 degrees Celsius from February 8 to February 9.
The Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control has therefore urged localities to be proactive in implementing plans aimed at ensuring the safety of people and property, whilst striving to minimise damage.
The sunny weather conditions are set to cover northern and north-central regions from February 10 and will last for the duration of Tet.
The temperatures over Tet will range between 16 degrees Celsius to 25 degrees Celsius in the region with low humidity.
People at high-risk areas in Mong Cai test negative for COVID-19
As many as 444 samples taken from interdisciplinary forces, officers, soldiers, employees, and labourers working at high-risk areas in Mong Cai City have come back negative for the SARS-CoV-2-virus.
This comes after the city took samples from individuals working at border gates, cargo inspection areas, and warehouses, all of which are considered high-risk locations. Mass testing efforts were initiated as a means of ensuring novel coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention measures and maintaining import and export activities.
As scheduled, testing is set to be implemented every three days.
Furthermore, 20 staff members at Children Hospital No.1 in Ho Chi Minh City also tested neagative for the virus. The mass testing was carried out following an F1 case visiting the hospital on February 2, leading to the immediate testing of all staff and all individuals forced to undergo a quarantine period.
Moreover, a COVID-19 case was detected in Ca Na hamlet of An Binh commune in Phu Giao district of Binh Duong province on February 4.
According to the provincial Department of Health, an eight-month-old baby was the child of infected patient, with the baby taken to a quarantine facility to ensure there is no risk of community infection.
Vietnam condemns use of chemical weapons in Syria
Ambassador Pham Hai Anh, Chargé d’affaires ad interim of Vietnam at the UN, reiterated that Vietnam categorically condemns the use of chemical weapons in any form, by anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances during an UN Security Council (UNSC)’s open video teleconference (VTC) on February 3.
It is a violation of international law, Anh told the event concerning the situation in the Middle East.
During the event, Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, briefed about the cooperation between the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and Syria.
Anh noted there is continued engagement between the OPCW and Syria in order to put an end to this protracted issue of chemical weapons in Syria.
“To further progress, it is our strong belief that there is no other option than ensuring cooperation between the two sides,” he said, adding that it is a matter of course that the support of the international community to their endeavours remains of great importance in this matter.
He later called for the OPCW Technical Secretariat and the Syrian National Authority to further enhance their technical consultations in order to close all the remaining outstanding issues.
Earlier the same day, the UNSC adopted a presidential statement on the situation in West Africa and the Sahel which condemns in the strongest term the terrorist attacks in two villages in Niger and against civilians in Borno State as well as the abduction of more than 300 children in Katsina State in Nigeria over the last few months.
The statement expresses concern over the deterioration in the humanitarian situation in the region, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and notably characterized by the impact of extreme poverty, food insecurity and violence.
It called for safe, sustained and unhindered access for the delivery of humanitarian and medical aid, including access to comprehensive health care and services for survivors of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations, without discrimination./.
Trains cut following mass railway tickets cancellations
Vietnam Railways Corporation has cut a number of trains after many people returned their tickets due to the new Covid-19 outbreak.
As of Thursday morning, 62,373 railway tickets worth VND52.8 billion (USD2.29 million) had been returned, including up to 15,300 tickets on Wednesday alone.
Specifically, train SE29 scheduled to leave Hanoi Station on February 8 has been changed to terminate at Vinh, instead of Saigon Station.
Train SE30 slated to depart from Saigon Station on February 10, 19 and 20 will be suspended.
The same decision will also be applied for train SE16 scheduled to leave Saigon Station on February 19 and train SE10 set to depart from Saigon Station on February 27 and 28.
Train SE29 which leaves Hanoi from February 21 and 22 and train SE15 which leaves Vinh City in Nghe An Province on February 20 and 21 will also be suspended.
Passengers whose trains will be suspended will be given tickets for other trains.
According to the railway sector, the returned tickets will be resold.
Huong Pagoda Festival to open in silence for Covid-19 prevention
Hanoi will not organise the opening ceremony for the Huong Pagoda Festival this year for Covid-19 prevention.
The authorities of My Duc District People’s Committee announced on February 3 that they would still held the festival but will not organise the opening ceremony as usual. If the situation becomes complicated, they will stop receiving visitors altogether.
The decision was made after the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism sent an official document asking localities to halt all large festivals, downscale or reschedule the festivals and events to prevent a new outbreak.
Huong Pagoda Festival was scheduled to open from February 13 to May 5. All the preparations have been completed.
Me Linh District authorities also scrapped Hai Ba Trung Temple Festival and other local festivals after several confirmed cases were reported. The number of visitors to Hai Ba Trung Temple will also be limited. Hai Ba Trung Temple Festival was scheduled to start on February 17.
Hanoi authorities have announced that there will be firework display for Tet at one location instead of 30 sites as previously planned.
Passenger bus fares hike as Tet nears
Passengers bus tickets have increased by up to 50% as travel demand has increased near Tet.
Because of Covid-19, the number of passengers at Giap Bat Bus Station on February 1 was more like a normal weekend than the seasonal rush expected before Tet. Some short-trip buses to Ninh Binh, Thai Binh and Nam Dinh only have five to seven passengers. Hoang, an employee of Thien Truong Company, said in previous years, they had to work full capacity and even used back-up buses.
Nguyen Anh Toan, director of Transerco, said they had started the transportation plan for Tet with 2,200 back-up buses at major bus stations like My Dinh, Giap Bat, My Dinh, and Gia Lam. The number of passengers is expected to increase by 130%-150%. However, they haven’t had to use back-up buses yet.
Despite the slight increase in the number of passengers, fares have increased by 30%-50%. The fares for buses to Thanh Hoa Province increased from VND120,000-VND150,000 to VND180,000-VND200,000.
Nguyen Tat Thanh, director of Giap Bat Bus Station, confirmed that many transportation firms had applied for a price hike. During Tet, most buses only run with passengers one-way and have to return empty so they have raised prices to pay for extra costs.
Procedures for the price hikes were already completed with the departments of finances and departments of transport before the new Covid-19 outbreak.
Vietnam National University ranks 17th in Southeast Asia
Vietnam National University – Hanoi (VNU) has been named among the leading 1,000 universities globally and is 17th in Southeast Asia, according to the Webometrics Ranking of World University compiled by Spanish public research body Cybermetrics Labs.
In line with the latest ranking, the university in the capital witnessed increases in three criteria, including Visibility, Openness, and Excellence.
Webometrics typically ranks global universities world based on data provided by institutions.
The purpose of compiling the rankings is to ultimately improve the presence of academic and research institutions on the Web and to promote the open access to the publication of scientific results.
Rural roads improved in central province of Phú Yên
For the last five years, authorities in the central province of Phú Yên have been effectively mobilising public resources and residents’ contributions to improve rural roads.
Chairman of Sơn Hoà District People’s Committee Tô Phương Bắc said that between 2017 and 2020, the district invested over VNĐ66 billion (US$ 2.86 million) to build roads in mountainous communes of Sơn Hà, Sơn Nguyên, Sơn Xuân, Suối Bạc, Suối Trai and Cà Lúi.
Of the funds, local people contributed VNĐ14 billion($608,000). All communes in the district now have concrete roads.
Trần Thị Khởi, a resident of Cà Lúi Commune, said previously the only route from the commune to Trà Kê in the neighbouring commune of Sơn Hội was almost impassable during heavy rain.
“Wholesalers hesitated to buy our farming products. We usually had to sell the products at low prices,” Khởi said.
“After the new 12-km road opened for traffic last year, we could travel and transport our products easily,” she said.
Chairman of Sông Hinh District People’s Committee Đinh Ngọc Dạn said that besides public investment, local authorities also called on residents’ contributions to improve the roads.
People donated land, money and labour to help complete the roads, he said, adding that in the last three years, 148 km of urban roads in the district were concreted.
Nguyễn Phương Đông, director of the province’s Transport Department, said that in the last five years, as part of a project on transport development, 362 out of 478km of rural roads in the province have been improved with investment of over VNĐ300 billion ($13 million).
Eighty out of 83 communes in the province now meet transport requirements in the criteria set for a new-style rural area.
Đông said that although the province last year struggled to fund the project, some districts opened new rural roads with a total length of over 50km.
Trương Văn Phương, head of the province’s Committee for Ethnic groups, said that improved roads in rural communes helped local people transport their products to other communes and other districts, thus improving incomes and living conditions.
The improved transport infrastructure also helped narrow the gap between ethnic people in mountainous communes and those living in lower areas, he said.
More users install COVID-19 tracing apps
The installation and use of the Bluezone tracing application increased sharply, averaging 32,000 to 40,000 downloads per hour right after the discovery of new COVID-19 cases.
As of February 1, there were 27 million downloads of the application, according to the Ministry of Health.
The tracing app will warn if smartphone users have been in close contact with COVID-19 cases and suspected cases.
Bluezone users will be less likely to be mistakenly quarantined due to cases not remembering their travelling schedule.
The more people who install Bluezone, the more effective the protection will be.
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc recommended everyone install Bluezone to help in controlling the pandemic.
Along with Bluezone app, the number of smartphone users installing the NCOVI domestic health reporting application was 7.72 million and the number of medical declaration records for the entire population was 18 million.
Users can download the NCOVI application to declare health information of themselves and their family anytime, anywhere.
An important function of the NCOVI application is the risk factor declaration. Persons traveling from pandemic zones, who have been in contact with patients or suspected cases, need to declare risk factors for timely assistance from health authorities.
NCOVI also has monitoring function of quarantine by checking the attendance 3 times a day by facial recognition and issuing an alert if the quarantined person moved more than 100m from the quarantine area.
Two days ago, Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam urged people in pandemic areas to make the most of social media tools providing information to the Ministry of Health and the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control about all people they have come into contact with. This was not only to protect oneself but also for the safety of the whole country, the deputy PM said.
According to Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Bùi Thế Duy, many COVID-19 patients and those in quarantine areas or F1 and F2 cases in Hải Dương Province had been very active in using social media to notify people they had contact, thereby helping to verify information of at-risk cases quickly.
Passengers’ information updated
In order to ensure the safety of public passenger transport activities and minimising the risk of COVID-19 spread during times of high travelling demand before, during and after Tết (Lunar New Year), the Ministry Transport required the Directorate for Roads of Việt Nam (DRVN) and affiliated departments to raise the pandemic warning to the highest level, especially at airports, railways, ports, bus stations and on public means of transport.
In addition, the ministry has also asked the DRVN and the local transport departments to direct the transportation businesses to urgently update information of passengers on the Safe COVID-19 application.
The relevant agencies must strengthen inspection and suspend operations for businesses that did not update information on the app and not prepare pandemic prevention measures, said the ministry.
Ha Long city to host Spring Flower Fair and firework show on New Year’s Eve
Despite the announcement, the 2021 version of the Spring Flower Festival will only be held at the 30/10 Square from February 2 to February 11, as opposed to running at three venues as previously planned.
Vu Van Dien, secretary of the Ha Long Party Committee, said the city is poised to host a firework display at five venues throughout the region, with all residents being required to abide by COVID-19 containment measures.
At present, Ha Long city has reported three positive cases of the SARs-Cov-2 virus, with the city tracing over 9,000 F1 and F4 cases, isolating areas where infected cases were detected and putting suspected cases into quarantine.
Relevant forces have been also been proactive in disseminating information in an effort to raise public awareness about the necessity of following preventive measures, while also preparing more than 8,000 test kits to conduct mass testing and arranging concentrated isolation facilities capable of accommodating roughly 10,000 people.
Gia Lai steps up COVID-19 prevention, control efforts
A delegation from the Ministry of Health, led by Deputy Minister Do Xuan Tuyen, joined a working session on February 3 with authorities in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai amid a surge of locally-transmitted COVID-19 cases in the area.
The province had documented 14 infections as of 7am on February 3. Tracing and quarantine of F1 cases who had close contact with COVID-19 patients have been stepped up since the first positive cases were detected.
The local health sector has mobilised all personnel and resources, in combination with assistance from other agencies, to conduct contact tracing. More than 1,320 citizens are now under quarantine at 14 establishments in the province.
Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Vo Ngoc Thanh asked the Ministry of Health to send medical equipment and experts to the province for the establishment of a 200-bed hospital for COVID-19 treatment.
Testing devices capable of collecting about 1,500 – 3,000 samples a day are set to arrive in Gia Lai in the next few days, according to Assoc. Prof. Dr Phan Trong Lan, Director of the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City.
The ministry has ordered relevant agencies to compile health regulations in pandemic-hit localities and review all local medical establishments to help the COVID-19 hospitals.
The province was also requested to bolster communications work on COVID-19 prevention and control among ethnic minority groups and impose strict fines on those not wearing facemasks in public./.
Drug smugglers prosecuted in An Giang
Police in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang have launched criminal proceedings against two people for smuggling six bricks of heroin (some 2,1 kg) and nearly 1 kg of crystal meth across the border.
The two are Ho Minh Nhat, born in 1973 and residing in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1, and Tran Van Giang, born in 1980 and residing in Cai Lay district in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang.
They were hired by a man living abroad to smuggle the drugs to HCM City. Police in An Giang caught the two red-handed in the province’s An Phu district last July.
Alongside An Giang, border authorities in the Mekong Delta provinces of Kien Giang and Dong Thap are also stepping up efforts to tackle the smuggling of all goods, which normally increases at the end of the year./.
Russian friend of Vietnam passes away
The Vietnamese community in Russia is mourning the passing of a great friend of Vietnam, Irina Petrovna Karmanova, who was former General Secretary of the Russia – Vietnam Friendship Association.
Upon hearing the news, Vietnamese Ambassador to Russia Ngo Duc Manh sent a letter of condolences to her family on January 31.
The letter lamented the fact that the heart of an excellent activist, whose name was long associated with a historical period in the two countries’ people-to-people diplomacy, has stopped beating.
Manh noted that Irina Petrovna spent years of her life dedicated to the development of Russia’s unshakeable amity with Vietnam. No matter the circumstances, as a member of the friendship association she put her mind towards fulfilling the mission of fortifying and expanding bilateral relations and cooperation, he added.
Her passing leaves behind a legacy of firm and loyal friendship and of sincere trust between the two peoples, the letter said, highlighting that Vietnamese will always be grateful for her efforts.
The Central Committee of the Vietnam – Russia Friendship Association also cabled its condolences to the Chairman of the Russia – Vietnam Friendship Association, Vladimir Buyanov, and the deceased’s family.
Irina Petrovna was an active member of the Russia – Vietnam Friendship Association since 1973, working in particular to improve business cooperation with Vietnamese expatriates in Russia. Recognising her significant contributions, the Vietnamese State bestowed upon her a Friendship Order./.
Thang Long citadel hosts imperial rituals to keep tradition alive
The Thang Long royal citadel in the capital city of Hanoi has been glowing with the atmosphere of traditional Lunar New Year from the ancient time as a cultural programme to welcome the Year of the Buffalo is underway at the site.
Highlight of the programme is the “Tien Xuan Nguu” ritual, which was practiced in the Le Trung Hung dynasty (16-18th century) to pray for a warm spring with bumper crops. The ritual was re-enacted for the first time at Kinh Thien Palace.
The ritual was held on the Lap Xuan day (the day when the spring begins) under the witness of the King as well as civil and military mandarins.
Also on February 4 – the 23rd day of the last lunar month, the Thang Long heritage conservation centre staged a farewell ceremony for the Land Genie and the Kitchen Gods (Ong Cong-Ong Tao) on their yearly visit to Heaven, while organising a ceremony to erect “cay neu” (a bamboo pole with arrows, bells, gong and other leaves) to ward off evil spirits and chase away bad luck of the previous year.
The conservation centre also arranged an exhibition to introduce the “Tien Xuan Nguu” ritual as well as many other traditions during Tet such as worshipping space, giving li xi (lucky money) and calligraphy.
Other activities held within the programme include xin chu-cho chu (requesting words- offering words), colouring folk paintings and “to he” (toy figurines) making.
Due to complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, the centre has enhanced prevention measures by regularly updating visitors with 5K message: Khau trang (facemask), khu khuan (disinfection), khoang cach (distance), khong tu tap (no gathering) and khai bao y te (health declaration), as well as arranging automatic body temperature measurement machines, and hand sanitisers.
The programme will take place until March 1. The heritage site will be accessible free of charge for tourists from February 13./.
OVs in New York celebrate Lunar New Year
More than 100 overseas Vietnamese and international friends enjoyed a warm celebration of the Lunar New Year (Tet) festival held online on February 3 by the Vietnamese permanent delegation to the United Nations (UN) in New York.
From Hanoi, Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, head of Vietnam’s permanent mission to the United Nations, who came back home to attend the 13th National Party Congress, informed the participants of the congress’s outcomes as well as domestic situation in 2020.
He said that the congress outlined the path for Vietnam to become a strong nation in mid-21st century, while giving out new criteria in employment, social equality, income equality and environmental quality.
He also informed them of the country’s efforts to fight COVID-19 as well as the government’s commitment to curbing the pandemic.
Quy said with delight that Vietnam fulfilled its dual tasks of containing the coronavirus and maintaining GDP growth at 2.91 percent.
Despite formidable challenges, Vietnam successfully performed the roles as the 2020 ASEAN Chair, and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, he stressed.
He appreciated the contributions made by the expats to the country’s development as well as foreign relations.
He expressed his hope that the whole world will overcome the COVID-19 pademic in this year, and Vietnam will soon have COVID-19 vaccines for mass inoculation in this summer./.
Ministry of Transport endorses Metro Line 5
The Ministry of Transport has agreed to Hanoi’s proposal to develop Metro Line 5 (Van Cao-Ngoc Khanh-Lang-Hoa Lac route).
According to the MoT, the project aligns with Hanoi’s master plan by 2030 with a vision to 2050.
“In the context of traffic jams and heavy environmental pollution, developing the metro line to complete the urban transport network is necessary and will contribute to completing the public transport system for Hanoi,” the document noted.
The MoT asked Hanoi People’s Committee to clarify whether land funds can be allocated for stations, and evalue the impact of these stations on their surroundings.
The MoT commented to Hanoi People’s Committee that based on the implementation process of the existing metro lines, which have been delayed for a long time, the proposal to develop Line 5 is unfeasible.
According to the plan, the project is estimated to have a total investment capital of VND65.4 trillion ($2.84 billion) from Hanoi’s budget, including VND24.84 trillion ($1.08 billion) for construction and VND16.6 trillion ($721.74 million) for equipment and other costs.
The route would include 21 stations, six underground at Van Cao, Lieu Giai, Nguyen Chi Thanh, and Tran Duy Hung streets, as well as Ring Road 3, before moving above-ground for the remaining 15 stations.
Under the proposal, up to 40 trains would run on the line, each consisting of 4-6 carriages and hitting speeds of 120 kilometers per hour above-ground and 90 kilometers an hour underground.
Officials hope to begin construction in 2022 and wrap up work in 2026. However, Hanoi’s first two metro lines have been under construction for years and still have no clear visibility on an opening date, with the Cat Linh-Ha Dong route being 99 per cent complete for well over a year now due to ongoing administrative issues and safety personnel not being able to enter Vietnam.
Hanoi’s Urban Transport Master Plan until 2030 with a vision to 2050 outlines the development of a core urban zone and additional satellite cities.
The metro system would serve as the backbone of this plan by connecting the inner zone to satellite cities, as well as other modes of public transport like the bus system.
According to the plan, the Hanoi metro system will run a total length of 417km, of which approximately 76km will be underground.
Six localities quarantine people returning from Covid-19-hit areas
Haiphong City and five provinces – Thua Thien-Hue, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Thanh Hoa and Nam Dinh – have asked all people returning from areas reporting Covid-19 cases to undergo quarantine for 14-21 days as well as Covid-19 tests.
On February 3, the Haiphong steering committee for Covid-19 infection prevention and control ordered the centralized quarantine of those returning from Me Linh District’s Tien Thang Commune; Cau Giay District’s Quan Hoa, Dich Vong and Dich Vong Hau wards; Nam Tu Liem District’s Xuan Phuong and My Dinh 2 wards; Dong Anh District’s Uy No Commune and Dong Anh Town; Bac Tu Liem District’s Phu Dien Ward and Hai Ba Trung District’s Vinh Tuy Ward of Hanoi City.
Returnees from other areas of Me Linh, Cau Giay and Nam Tu Liem districts must quarantine at home and those from other parts of Dong Anh, Bac Tu Liem and Hai Ba Trung districts must make health declarations, the local media reported.
Similarly, those coming back to Haiphong from Lam Thao Commune of Bac Ninh Province’s Luong Tai District; Dong Tien Commune of Hoa Binh City and Man Duc Commune of Tan Lac District of Hoa Binh Province; Cam Ly Commune of Bac Giang Province’s Luc Nam District; La Trok, Ia Mron, Kim Tan and Chu Rcam Commune of Gia Lai Province; Ward 4 of HCMC’s District 11 and Phu Hoa Ward of Thu Dau Mot City and An Binh Commune of Phu Giao District, Binh Duong Province, will be put under centralized quarantine.
In addition, the Thua Thien-Hue steering committee for Covid-19 infection prevention and control on February 3 decided to quarantine for 21 days and test all citizens returning from Quang Ninh, Hai Duong and Hanoi’s districts, which reported Covid-19 patients. The centralized quarantine center is in Phu Thuong Commune of Phu Vang District.
The committee also required residents from other localities to make health declarations when entering the province.
All employees of the Phu Bai International Airport, Thuan An and Chan May ports, Hue Railway Station and the northern and southern coach stations will undergo Covid-19 tests.
Nguyen Van Dinh, director of the Nghe An Center for Disease Control, said all residents returning from localities under lockdown or implementing social distancing must be quarantined at centralized quarantine centers and undergo Covid-19 tests.
On February 2, the Ha Tinh Department of Health announced that people in close contact with those traveling to and from pandemic-hit areas, areas that Covid-19 patients had visited and areas under lockdown must be quarantined for 14 days. People in indirect contact with these people must quarantine themselves at home. They must visit medical centers in case they develop symptoms of a cough, a fever and a sore throat.
On February 3, director of the Thanh Hoa Department of Health Trinh Huu Hung said the province would also quarantine residents returning to the province to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday from areas with Covid-19 outbreaks. Centralized quarantine centers in the province can accommodate some 10,000 people.
Meanwhile, Nam Dinh will make a list of people returning from areas with Covid-19 patients and place them under quarantine.
Annual Tet meeting of HCMC’s leaders, OVs suspended in response to pandemic
The Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs of HCMC on February 3 announced that the annual meeting between HCMC’s leaders and overseas Vietnamese (OVs) on Tet holidays will be suspended because of the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Previously, the event was scheduled to take place on February 4 and then changed on February 6 with the participation of around 300 overseas Vietnamese.
As planned, the delegates would join a flower offering ceremony to President Ho Chi Minh at Ho Chi Minh Statue Park in front of the City Hall and take a short trip to visit city’s key works on a double decker bus, such as Bui Vien walking street, Bitexco building, HCMC Opera House, Reunification Palace, new Mien Dong (Eastern) Coach Station, water bus service, metro line No.1.
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