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Social News Headlines 7/5

 Killer skin disease blamed on bad rice; Ha Noi encourages firms to sign up for insurance plans; Doctors warn of infectious diseases this summer; Dengue fever threat in Ha Noi; Search begins for man missing at sea

Dengue fever threat in Ha Noi

The dengue fever is likely to break out again in the capital city unless appropriate preventive measures are taken, health experts warned at a workshop yesterday.

Director of the Ha Noi Health Department Nguyen Nhat Cam said the number of dengue fever patients in the Central Region and Central Highlands declined in the first four months of this year compared to the same period last year.

However, the figures have been rising in southern and northern regions in the past few weeks.

Most northern cases were centred around Ha Noi, which had 52 per cent of victims. The city has recorded 37 cases of dengue fever so far this year.

The municipal health department is building plans to control the outbreak, including providing training for medical workers at 30 key communes and wards at high risk.

Cam also warned of a possible outbreak of hand-foot-mouth disease in children as the warmer weather progressed.

Search begins for man missing at sea

Quynh Long and Quynh Thuan communes, in Quynh Luu District of the central province of Nghe An, have begun a search for a man who went missing at sea yesterday.

Bui Duc Trung, fell into the sea in the morning from a fishing boat which was 142 nautical miles from the shore.

Local authorities have asked fishing boats operating in the area for to co-operate in the search.

Two killed, one injured in oil tanker fire

Two people were killed and one person received serious burn injuries in an oil tanker fire at Cogido Port on the Dong Nai river.

According to local officials, the fire started at 8pm on April 4 and was extinguished two and a half hours later.

The bodies of two people were found in Dong Nai river, but they have not been identified yet. One person, who managed to escape from the fire, was rushed to the local hospital.

The firefighters had to use water and chemicals to extinguish the fire.

The local people recalled that before they saw the flames on the Song Tien Vessel, they had heard the sound of a huge explosion from the port, near the An Binh ward of Bien Hoa city.

The local police have started their investigations at the site to find out the cause of the accident.

Fire destroys 4,000 tonnes of paper

More than 4,000 tonnes of paper were completely destroyed in a fire at a paper factory in the Phong Khe Industrial Park of Bac Ninh on Sunday night.

According to reports, the fire broke out around 7pm in the storage room of the factory and quickly spread due to the presence of inflammable material.

Twelve fire engines and hundreds of people present at the site could not bring the fire under control until around midnight. The company's manufacturing plants, warehouses and machinery were also destroyed. The damage is estimated to be worth billions of dongs.

No person was injured as the factory was closed for the holiday break. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

Lao Cai man dies of fishing shock

A 50-year-old man from Thai Nien Commune, Bao Thang District, in the northern province of Lao Cai, was electrocuted and died late on Sunday night while electro fishing in the Hong (Red) River.

New bridge provides safe passage to school

A suspension bridge was opened to the public yesterday in Sam Lang village in the northern mountainous province of Dien Bien.

Transport minister Dinh La Thang decided to build the bridge one month ago, after Tuoi Tre online newspaper posted a video clip showing local children using plastic bags to cross Nam Po Stream.

Upon reaching the 80m-wide stream, each child in turn climbs into a large plastic bag, then has the top of the bag pulled shut over his or her head. A strong village man then pulls the bag across the stream, a process repeated until everyone has made it to the other side.

During flood season, local people were forced to choose this method to cross the stream as the rapid current made it difficult for boats to operate and the existing bridge, made of thick planks tied to low stone pylons, was also covered by water.

Sam Lang village, 180km from Dien Bien City, is home to 100 households. The village is divided by many streams, including Nam Po Stream.

Deputy Transport Minister Le Dinh Tho said the VND3.5 billion (US$167,000) bridge would help local people cross the river more easily and safely. Similar bridges would be built elsewhere in the province, he said.

The whole province has 25 suspension bridges with "reduced capacity", 17 identified as "dangerous" and 22 identified as being "extremely dangerous".

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has given the nod to the transport ministry to build 186 bridges in ethnic minority-inhabited and mountainous areas in 28 northern, central and Central Highlands localities.

VN gets bird's eye view of the globe

Viet Nam's first remote sensing satellite, VNREDSat-1, has captured 3,661 images since it was placed under the country's control on September 4 last year.

The satellite was launched into orbit a year ago from the Kourou launch pad in the French territory of Guiana. It was under the management of Astrium SAS, an affiliate of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company.

Since it came into stable operation, it has taken more than 20,700 images, of which 6,071 feature Viet Nam.

At a conference held yesterday to review the operation of the satellite, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Nguyen Thai Lai said it served as a monitoring tool helping the country manage environmental resources and defend national sovereignty.

It has also contributed to Viet Nam's sovereignty claims over its land, sea and islands - and also its airspace, he added.

The VNREDSat-1 project was funded with 55.8 million EUR (US$77.4 million) from French Official Development Assistance and a Vietnamese contribution of about VND65 billion ($3 million)).

The satellite, which is capable of capturing images from areas around the world, is also expected to be able to assist efforts to deal with flooding, forest fires, oil overflows and other incidents quickly and effectively.

Killer skin disease blamed on bad rice

Mouldy rice has been blamed for a new outbreak of a killer skin disease in the central province of Quang Ngai's Ba To district.

The ailment has affected more than 230 people to date, mainly in mountainous Ba To district. Twenty-four have died

The latest samples of rice tested reveal that it may have been contaminated with an aflatoxin, a type of fungus. Apparently this can create a type of dermatitis that causes skin to peel off people's feet and palms.

The tests were carried out by the HCM City Institute of Hygiene and Public Health on 10 samples of rice from the homes of those infected.

One sample of rice from the family of a patient in Ba Dien Commune was found to be contaminated with 100 times the safe level of the toxin.

Last year, tests conducted by the health ministry showed that 100 per cent of those affected in Ba To and Son Ha District had eaten mouldy rice.

Chief of the provincial health department, Le Huy, said the department had told local health centres to provide regular health check-ups for local people, clean the surrounding environment and raise public awareness.

Since the beginning of the year, the province has reported three new cases of the skin disease.

The strange disease was first discovered in the province in 2011.

Doctors warn of infectious diseases this summer

While measles has yet to be brought under control across the country, hand-foot and mouth (HFM) disease and chickenpox are expected to break out in the coming weeks.

Medical experts warn the number of patients contracting these two diseases is likely to increase considerably with summer approaching.

The Central Paediatrics Hospital reports it has received more than 120 chickenpox patients in the past few weeks.

Hanoi-based Bach Mai hospital says it has been receiving more than 10 chickenpox patients every day and most of the hospitalisations have not been vaccinated against the disease.

Dr Bui Vu Huy from the Central Paediatrics Hospital says chickenpox caused by Varicella zoster virus is a benign disease, but if patients are not given prompt treatment and good care, they will face other complications, commonly skin infections.

In more severe cases, bacteria can enter the blood stream from blisters, causing sepsis and meningitis.

Doctors say vaccination is the most effective remedy against chickenpox. Children, even adults, are encouraged to be vaccinated to prevent the disease spreading out across the community.

If children show symptoms of chickenpox, normally high temperatures, rash or oral-cavity sores, parents are advised to let them stay indoors, keep them warm, follow personal hygienic regulations, and maintain daily nutritious diets.

Alongside measles and chickenpox, the hand-foot-and mouth disease is going to reach its height, with 17,500 cases recorded across the country so far this year.

A high incidence of the disease was reported in Ba Ria-Vung Tau (1,100 cases, up 34.4% compared to the same period last year) and Ho Chi Minh City (2,600 cases, up 29%).

HFM often reaches its peak in May and June in the north, and March-April and September-October in the south.

There is growing concern that the number of infections is likely to soar substantially this year following the cycle of the disease.

Medical experts say HFM is also a benign disease with a low ratio of complications; it can however spread on a large scale within the community through food intakes and digestion.

There is no vaccine against the disease that often attacks new-borns and children.

The Ministry of Health has recommended that people keep personal hygiene, eat cooked food, and use sterilised cutleries.

Parents are advised to keep a close watch on their children to timely detect and isolate suspect cases at least 10 days after the onset of the disease.

Dong Nai FDI enterprises build kindergartens for workers’ children

As many as five foreign-invested enterprises operating in the southern province of Dong Nai have poured money to build kindergartens for the children of their labourers, who number over 2,000.

Dong Phuong nursery school, which was invested by Phong Thai Group in the Song May Industrial Park in Trang Bom district, comprises of 20 classrooms and a playground for open-air physical activities. Built at a cost of 1 million USD, the school is looking after more than 500 children between two and five years old.

Meanwhile the Green World kindergarten takes care of 400 children under the age of five. Invested by Pouchen Vietnam Company, the 15 classroom-school covers an area of over 1 ha in Bien Hoa city.

According to Tang Quoc Lap, vice president of the provincial Labour Federation, there are 1,031 FDI businesses operating in the locality, attracting over 456,000 employees.

The constructed nursery schools are helping workers to better care for their children, he said.

Lap also proposed that the State should set forth reasonable policies to create favourable conditions for enterprises to build more schools of this kind in the locality in the coming time.

Buddhist teachers improve educational skills

As many as 2,500 Buddhist educators have attended a training course on how to spread religious teachings to a modern audience.

Buddhism has been practised in Vietnam for over 2,000 years.

The country has more than 12 million Buddhist followers, over 40,000 monks and nuns and almost 15,000 temples, monasteries and other places of worship

The teachers were advised how to best promote Buddhism by experienced members of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha.

The three-day course started on May 1 at Hoi An Pagoda in the southern province of Binh Duong, ahead of the forthcoming United Nations Day of Vesak (the day of Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death).

Vesak 2014 will be held in Bai Dinh Temple in the northern province of Ninh Binh on May 7-11.

Phu Yen suffering acute water shortage

A continuing drought over the past few months in the central province of Phu Yen has resulted in a lack of water for thousands of people living in mountainous areas.

Son Dinh commune in the mountainous district of Son Hoa has been hardest hit. Most of the wells in the commune are dry, forcing local residents to purchase water from other communes at a price of between VND70,000-90,000 (US$3.3-4.7) per cu.m.

Nguyen Thi Tien, a local resident in the commune's Hoa Binh hamlet, said it was expensive to buy water, so her family could only afford water for cooking and bathing the children.

Many adults are traveling to Hoa Thuan lake or Hoa Binh spring, more than 2km away, to bathe and wash their clothes, she said.

Chairman of Son Dinh commune's People's Committee, Nguyen Thanh Tan, said more than 500 households in the commune faced water shortages.

The commune earlier invested in building three safe water supply stations, but the lack of water has made them unusable, he said.

Water shortages still occur during the dry season, but this year was considered worse than usual, he said.

Authorities of Son Ha District have decided to earmark VND8.1 billion ($385,000) to build safe water stations for residents of Son Dinh commune. A feasibility study is being carried out to find suitable locations for the construction of the stations.

Water piped to grave of beloved General Giap

A pipe that brings clean water to the grave of General Vo Nguyen Giap on Vung Chua- Yen Island in the central province of Quang Binh Province was turned on yesterday.

The construction of pipe started in March with a donation of VND1.3 billion (US$ 61,900) from the Viet Nam Young Entrepreneurs Association.

The 2.2km pipe is connected to a branch of the Hon La Water Supply Company to provide local people and visitors to the grave with clean water.

According to the provincial government, around 3,000 – 4,000 people visit the General's grave each day, and 90 per cent of them are from outside the province.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Transport approved a proposal by Quang Binh People's Committee to open a 70km bus route from Dong Hoi Railway Station to the General's grave.

Transport Minister Dinh La Thang has also asked the Viet Nam Railway Corporation to open a railway station near the grave, but according to the corporation, the nearest stations do not run bus routes to the area.

Before Vung Chua- Yen Island Area was chosen as the final resting place for the General, there was no road connecting National Highway No1A to the site.

Construction of a 4km road was completed within five days for General Giap's funeral last October to carry his body from Ha Noi to his native town in Quang Binh Province.

Lao Cai wants pedestrian tunnels

The Transport Department of the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai has asked the contractor of the Noi Bai-Lao Cai Highway Project to build pedestrian tunnels on the route that passes the province.

The highway route, which was 50 kilometres long in the province, was launched last month. It shortened the travel time between Lao Cai Province and Ha Noi. However, the highway has now become an inconvenience to locals who live along the route.

In Bao Yen District's Cam Con Commune, only two out of the 25 pedestrian tunnels have been opened for residents. The rest are submerged under rainwater and have become unusable due to weak drainage systems.

Many residents also had to travel five kilometres through the tunnels to get to their fields located just some 200 metres away from their homes. Some children even waded through the submerged tunnels to reduce the walking distance to school.

Nguyen Van Thuong, chairman of the commune's People's Committee, said that the highway route divided the commune in two parts and caused difficulties for locals to travel around.

As many as 25 hectares of rice fields were at risk of being submerged due to the water discharged from the highway's drainage system.

"We hope the contractor will fix it soon," he said.

Nguyen Trong Hai, director of the provincial Department of Transport, said that after a survey of the route, the department has urged the contractor of the project, the Vietnam Expressway Corporation, to build more tunnels in spots where residential areas were located and to install and repair the drainage systems in the tunnels.

The department also asked the company to work with local authorities to ensure regular maintenance of the tunnels.

A representative of the company told reporters that the company has a plan to fix the problem.

They will repair the tunnels that pass through Son Ha, Cam Con and Tan Thuong communes to make travel easier.

The company will also work with local authorities to determine the best time to repair and build the tunnels.

The Noi Bai-Lao Cai Highway project, with a total investment of more than VND19.9 trillion (US$1.2 million), is divided into eight construction packages.

The project will go through five cities and provinces: Ha Noi, Vinh Phuc, Phu Tho, Yen Bai and Lao Cai. As an important project in the Kunming-Lao Cai-Ha Noi-Hai Phong road corridor, the highway is part of a co-operation programme among six countries in the Mekong Sub-region: Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand, as well as Myanmar and China.

Ha Noi encourages firms to sign up for insurance plans

Ha Noi agencies are searching for ways to make businesses honour their commitment to buy two types of insurance for their employees - social insurance, which includes unemployment benefits, and health insurance.

They said that unless something was done, there was a danger that the fund could break down in the capital.

Pham Duy Dinh, director of Dong Da District Social Insurance, said that the agency had simplified administrative procedures to make it easier for both employers and employees to make contributions.

This had already indirectly attracted employers to make contributions, as they are expected to under the law, Dinh said.

In past years, about 500-600 enterprises in the district joined up each year. Last year, despite many enterprises being hit by the economic crisis, the district still had about 300-400 enterprises joining.

But Dinh said his agency's work was handicapped by a lack of workers. "We do not have enough specialised workers to go chase more business, big or small, in every road, lane and alley in the district," he said.

Nguyen Ngoc Thien, director of Ba Dinh District Social Insurance Agerncy, pointed out one more obstacle.

To widen the social insurance, co-operation between agencies was needed, but it was difficult to find money to do this, he said.

Moreover, to persuade enterprises to join the social insurance scheme depended to a certain degree on each enterprise's demand.

If an enterprise wanted to keep good workers and trade sustainably, it would buy social insurance and health insurance for its workers. But if an enterprise was only involved in temporary and seasonal work, it would ignore the insurance despite all efforts, said Thien.

Cau Giay District has found a good way to widen the social insurance fund.

The district social insurance joined hands with different ministries, including Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Public Security (police) and Taxation to pass on the regulations on social insurance and health insurance.

The inter-sector delegation also hands out forms to register for social insurance.

The district attracted 600 more enterprises buying the insurance last year.

Huynh Thi Mai Phuong, deputy director of Ha Noi Social Insurance, said that to widen the fund, policies should be adjusted to make it more realistic.

For instance, she said, the mode of paying for social insurance should be flexible.

The social insurance sector has worked with other sectors to compile a list of people of working age and the real number of enterprises actually operating in each area.

This will enable the municipal People's Committee demand that each district set targets for new membership.

More than 14,600 enterprises in Ha Noi shut down last year, including 740 with membership of the city's social insurance fund.

Lam Dong provides aid to poor residents

The Central Highlands province of Lam Dong has earmarked VND15.5 billion (US$738,000) to support poor and ethnic minority people this year.

The fund will be spent on buying plant varieties for poor and ethnic minority households who wish to switch to new crops to increase their incomes. Money will also be allocated to the 110 poorest communes.

In addition, poor and ethnic minority families without access to electricity will be given five litres of kerosene this year.

Furthermore, the province will install speaker systems in poor communes to assist in communal activities.

Nanning seminar on Dien Bien Phu victory

The Guangxi Institute for Southeast Asian Studies’ Academy of Social Sciences hosted a seminar featuring the 60th anniversary of the Dien Bien Phu victory and the Vietnam-China relations in China’s Nanning city on May 4.

Attendees included Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences Head Prof. Lu Yusheng and former deputy head Pro. Huang Zheng and Vietnamese Consulate General representatives in Nanning along with many scholars, experts and reporters.

In his statement, Prof. Lu Yusheng reviewed the historical relationship between Vietnam and China during the anti-French colonialism war resistance, noting that in the Dien Bien Phu campaign and during the anti-French colonialism war resistance, Vietnam and China cultivated their close-knit friendship and stood side by side for the struggle for justice.

“This is an important part in the history of the development of bilateral relations that today's younger generation needs to preserve and bring into full play.” he said.

Phan Huy Minh, in turn, said the Vietnamese Party, State and people are always grateful for China’s valuable assistance and expressed conviction that the friendship between the two peoples will be inheriting and promoting in the future.

Prof. Huang Zheng said during the war against France, China assisted Vietnam with international spirit. In that spirit, the Chinese advisory delegation along with leaders of the Vietnam People's Army led by General Vo Nguyen Giap established a relationship of mutual respect and mutual trust.

Ass. Professor Nong Lifu, Southeast Asian Studies Institute Deputy Director confirmed that the resounding victory of the Dien Bien Phu campaign represented a historical landmark in strengthening the Vietnam-China friendship.

This event helped enrich the experience of the international communist movements and was seen as a lesson that nations and peoples oppressed by imperialism in the world can beat bigger countries or weak countries can beat strong countries, he said.

La Hu ethnic people embrace new lifestyle

The La Hu ethnic people in the northern province of Lai Chau have recently seen their lives change positively thanks to assistance from the local border guards.

The group has a population of more than 6,000, living on high mountain slopes in the four border communes of Muong Te district.

There are 30 La Hu households with more than 100 people in Ha Xi- Ha Ne village, the farthest border village of Pa U commune. These households exist mainly on state subsidies.

Over the last four years, thanks to the help of the border forces, Ha Xi - Ha Ne locals who once lived a nomadic lifestyle, have learned how to grow wet rice and begun to settle down.

Ky Chuy Suy said with border guards taught villagers how to grow wet rice to help them get rid of hunger.

Suy’s peer, Ky Hu Bo, recalled that some years ago, they did not know how to cultivate rice and that the only thing they could do was hunting. From now onwards, they can make a living from cultivation.

In the past, the La Hu ethnic people’s nomadic nature made it very difficult for border guards to persuade them to settle down. Therefore, the soldiers have learnt to speak their language by living, eating and working together with local people.

Captain Ly Chuy Tu, from the Pa U Border Post under the Lai Chau Border Forces recounted that he and his soldiers have worked hard to persuade the minorities to change from working on hills to planting wet rice.

With their efforts, nearly 1,000 households with 4,000 people in Pa U commune have now committed to a sedentary life-style. Their lives have changed markedly as they now focus on rice cultivation and animal husbandry and shave topped deforestation and shifting cultivation.

Pha Ly Xa, head of Tan Bien commune, Pa U Commune, stated that border forces have helped his villagers build houses, putting an end to living on shacks in the past.

They have focused on developing infrastructure. Currently, all remote villages of Pa U commune are accessible by cars.

Most Venerable monk upbeat about 2014 Vesak Day

Chairman of the International Organising Committee for the United Nations Day of Vesak 2014, Most Venerable Thich Thanh Nhieu, has said he believes the celebrations in the northern province of Ninh Binh on May 8-10 will be a success.

In a recent interview with the Vietnam News Agency, Nhieu, who is also Permanent Vice President of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS) Executive Council, described Vesak Day as a key diplomatic event, promoting Vietnam as a country of hospitable people who enjoy the right to follow any religious practices.

Unlike the 2008 Vesak Day that was held in Hanoi, this year’s event will get started at Bai Dinh pagoda, the biggest in the Southeast Asia. This should reassure international friends that Vietnam is perfectly able to host such event for the second time, he said.

Mentioning the proposed activities, he said that besides workshops, the day will feature a ceremony praying for national prosperity and peace for all citizens, with tens of thousands of Buddhist dignitaries, monks and nuns from all corners of the country taking part. Over 1,500 foreign guests, including statesmen and royal representatives, will also be in attendance.

According to Nhieu, 13 central departments and agencies have assisted the VBS in external affairs, security, health care and media, and preparations have been completed.

With the support of over 2,000 voluntary students in Hanoi and Ninh Binh, local hotels are ready to welcome guests, while hospitals and areas around the pagoda are fully equipped for all possible contingencies.

In response to queries about the VBS’s contributions to realising the UN millennial development goals, which form part of 2014 Vesak Day’s featured theme, he emphasised the Sangha’s efforts over the past 30 years, including the regular support given to the poor, orphans, islanders and the families of war heroes.

Recently, the VBS donated 100 tonnes of rice and gifts in both cash and kind worth VND3 billion to ethnic groups in the northern mountainous province of Dien Bien.

Each year, it mobilises hundreds of billions of Vietnamese Dong for social welfare activities, he added.

Phu Tho ecotourism site forced to stop construction

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai has ordered the People's Committee of northern Phu Tho Province to stop construction of an ecotourism site that brings hot mineral water for tourists.

The Deputy PM also asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to re-examine the project, located in Thanh Thuy Village, Thanh Thuy District, including its plans on land use, flood prevention and control, and its impacts on dyke systems in the province.

Further, the ministry was requested to report on the project to the Government.

The ecotourism site, which is located near the Thanh Thuy Hot Spring, was a key project to encourage the growth of the tourism sector in the province. Last month, it ended its first period of construction with an investment of VND450 billion (US$21.4 million).

Further, the project is likely to receive an additional capital investment of VND200 billion ($9.5 million) to continue its second period of construction.

The request followed reports on illegal exploitation of hot mineral water, which has caused losses of natural resources and had serious impacts on the quality of area water.

According to the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment, the area of the hot springs covered more than 4,770 hectares, stretching through five communes in the province.

Currently, nine enterprises have leased land to exploit the hot mineral water for their tourism services, within an area of 218 hectares.

Also, hundreds of households in the province have used the hot water for their daily use and businesses.

However, few have received licences to take advantage of the hot water source.

An inspection of the department last month showed that among seven enterprises that are operating their tourism services in the province, only one received permission from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Additionally, among 343 households that are exploiting the water, only 18 have registered their businesses.

The department said that the massive exploitation of the hot water has led to serious impacts on the quality of the water. The temperature of the water has greatly decreased each year. In 1982, the water temperature was up to 41 degree Celsius, but had fallen to 37 degree Celsius by 2000.

Also, waste water from enterprises and households, which was discharged directly into the environment, is another problem, as it has contaminated the underground water, it said.

Last year, the provincial People's Committee asked enterprises and households to stop illegally exploiting the hot water and discharging waste water into the surrounding environment.

They were even asked to fill in wells, which were dug for exploiting hot water. However, the situation has yet to improve.

The Thanh Thuy Hot Spring is considered a key natural resource for the province's tourism development. It has an average temperature of between 37 and 43 degree Celsius. The multiple micronutrient content of the hot spring is capable of rehabilitation, improves blood circulation and the relaxing of skin.

VNN/VNS/VOV/VNA

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