Latest Coronavirus News in Vietnam & Southeast Asia May 21

Eight wide-body aircraft transport Vietnamese medical supplies to US

Latest Coronavirus News in Vietnam & Southeast Asia May 21

The final shipment transporting Vietnamese medical equipment successfully arrived in New York on May 20 (Photo: SCS)

A total of eight wide-body aircraft have been mobilized to ship over 5 million pieces of Made-in-Vietnam personal protective equipment to New York, the United States, on order to combat the novel coronavirus.

According to Huynh Quoc Dinh, director of Super Cargo Service, the shipment comes after the US recently placed an order to purchase Made-in-Vietnam medical equipment, including a haul of protective suits, face masks, and gloves for the fight against the novel coronavirus epidemic in the US. 

In order to meet the shipping deadline, the company co-operated with four other firms, including Ethiopian Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Eva Airlines, and Philippines Airlines, to use eight large aircraft Boeing 777-300 ER and Boeing 777- 360 ER as a way of successfully transporting the medical supplies.

By the afternoon of May 20 (local time), the final shipment transporting the medical equipment successfully arrived in New York, said Dinh.

Demands for medical supplies are increasing after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urged residents to wear face masks on April 15, with the city being one of two worst-affected epidemic regions in the US.

Moreover, early May also saw New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveil plans to deliver 5 million surgical masks and 2.5 million cloth masks free of charge to the city’s residents over the coming weeks.

CBSNews quoted Mayor de Blasio as saying that the metropolis had placed an order for large quantities of medical protective clothing from a factory located in Vietnam, adding that the city will have sufficient medical supplies by mid-May.

Dinh noted that the country has great potential for exporting medical equipment following plenty of foreign countries highlighting Vietnamese products, with several local firms poised to seize this opportunity.

He added that a number of domestic firms that specialise in manufacturing medical protective clothing have seen their production schedule fully booked for the remainder of the year and will now only receive orders from 2021.

Vietnam enters 35th straight day with no new community COVID-19 cases

Latest Coronavirus News in Vietnam & Southeast Asia May 21

A medical worker checks temperature of a Vietnamese returnee from the Philippines.

Vietnam has gone 35 straight days without new COVID-19 infection cases in the community, according to the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.

As of May 21 morning, the total infections in the country remained at 324, including 184 imported cases that had been quarantined upon their arrival.

There are 264 recoveries, accounting for 82 percent of the total, while the remaining 60 are under treatment at nine hospitals across the country. The National Hospital for Tropical Diseases has the largest number of cases at present, 27.

Among the active patients, eight have tested negative at least once.

Nearly 12,990 people are still kept in quarantine in Vietnam, including 307 in hospitals, over 7,600 in state-designated facilities and the rest at home./.

Stranded Vietnamese citizens set to fly home from Australia, New Zealand

As many as 343 Vietnamese citizens who are currently stuck in Australia and New Zealand due to the novel coronavirus pandemic are set to be brought home on June 1.

This comes after Vietnam Airlines, in collaboration with the diplomatic Vietnamese agencies, moved to put the special flight on.

Among the total it is planned that 243 Vietnamese citizens will be picked up from Australia, while the remaining 100 will be brought home from New Zealand.

At present, approximately 1,800 Vietnamese citizens based in Australia have registered for the flight, far higher than the capacity.

Therefore, various diplomatic Vietnamese agencies are carefully considering which individuals represent priority cases in order to finalise the passenger list. 

All Vietnamese citizens wishing to be on the flight must book their tickets before 4pm on May 25.

Southeast Asia countries report new COVID-19 cases

Latest Coronavirus News in Vietnam & Southeast Asia May 21
Singaporeans wear face masks to protect themselves from COVID-19.

The Health Ministry of Malaysia reported 31 new COVID-19 cases on May 20, bringing the country’s total infections to 7009.

No new deaths were recorded, leaving the total number of fatalities at 114.

Meanwhile, Indonesia reported 693 new cases, taking the country’s total to 19,189.

The country recorded 21 more deaths, bringing the death toll to 1,242. A total of 4,575 people have recovered.

The Philippine health department reported on May 20 that 279 more people contracted the COVID-19, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 13,221. It also reported five deaths, bringing the death toll to 842.

As many as 89 more patients have recovered from the disease, bringing the number of recoveries to 2,932.

In Singapore, the number of COVID-19 cases crossed the 29,000 mark on May 20, with 570 new infections reported as of noon. No new deaths were recorded, keeping the total number of fatalities at 22. As many as 10,365 people have recovered from the disease./.

PM highlights anti-COVID-19 efforts, recovery solutions in report to legislature

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on May 20 reported on the anti-COVID-19 work and key solutions for socio-economic recovery and development, calling for joint concerted efforts and high resolve to weather difficulties and perform tasks as best as possible.

Addressing the opening sitting of the ninth session of the 14th-tenure National Assembly, PM Phuc pointed out that in the first months of 2020, the international and domestic situation witnessed big and unprecedented changes due to impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The global economy has slipped into recession while major partners of Vietnam have been seriously affected. Almost all sectors in the Vietnamese economy have been strongly influenced with many socio-economic activities stagnating.

However, he said, the entire Party, people and army have joined hands and exerted all-out efforts to realise the dual targets of fighting against the pandemic, and maintaining, recovering and developing socio-economic activities and ensuring people’s livelihoods.

The COVID-19 combat is unprecedented, requiring strong, synchronous, swift, flexible, timely and effective measures, he said, elaborating that the Government has ordered the pandemic prevention and control be implemented in a comprehensive manner that suits the outbreak’s developments.

Response measures have been carried out earlier and at a level higher than recommendations by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Social distancing was imposed adamantly and opportunely, thus effectively stopping the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Thanks to the whole political system’s engagement and the people’s solidarity and unanimity in seriously and effectively implementing the measures, Vietnam has basically put the pandemic under control, PM Phuc said, noting that for the past more than one month, the country hasn’t recorded any community infections while the recent confirmed patients are all imported cases.

Amid this global pandemic, Vietnam has been cooperating closely with other countries and UN organisations, especially the WHO, in developing treatment regimens and vaccines, according to the Government leader.

Vietnam has also had many initiatives in external relations in this context, he said, adding that as Vietnam is ASEAN Chair in 2020, the PM issued the Chairman’s Statement on ASEAN Collective Response to the Outbreak of COVID-19 and successfully chaired the special ASEAN and ASEAN+3 virtual summits on COVID-19.

The meaningful victories in the fight against COVID-19 are the crystallization of patriotism, trust and strength of the great national unity bloc, PM Phuc affirmed.

Looking back on socio-economic performance in the first months of 2020, the PM said the COVID-19 pandemic has strongly hit almost all economic sectors. The agricultural sector registered a growth of only 0.08 percent due to export difficulties, and industry up only 1.8 percent due to the shortage of input materials as well as problems I export markets. The service sector suffered from severe losses, especially in tourism, restaurant and transportation.

The number of newly-established firms dropped 13.3 percent while 33.6 percent of all firms suspended their operations. More than 5 million workers have been affected.

PM Phuc reported that the Government and the PM promptly issued mechanisms and policies in support of businesses and the public, as well as held online meetings to tackle their difficulties.

He pointed to bright spots in the economic picture, including stable macroeconomic foundation and major balances of the economy, facilitating post-pandemic recovery. The consumer price index in April fell by 1.21 percent from December 2019, and regulatory interest rates down 1.5 percent, thus ensuring liquidity for credit institutions and the economy.

Despite the challenges caused by COVID-19, the leader said the Government still pays attention to socio-cultural development, stepping up administrative reform, preventing corruption and wastefulness, and enhancing national defence-security and external activities.

According to him, the Government issued Resolution No.42 on measures supporting residents hit by COVID-19 with a total funding of nearly 62 trillion VND (2.69 billion USD), along with reducing electricity, water and telecommunication prices and offering preferential loans to poor households via the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies.

“In the new context that is full of difficulties and challenges, all of us must reform mindset and working methods for development, improve capability, grasp opportunities, re-organise economic activities, seek new development models, and make use of the shift of investment and production in the region and the world,” PM Phuc said.

In addition, it is also necessary to strongly bring into play the role of businesses in all economic sectors and proactively take part in economic links and production and value chains generated by new-generation free trade agreements.

For the rest of 2020 and the following period, aside from pushing ahead with the disease prevention and control, the Government will direct the synchronous and drastic implementation of tasks and solutions for socio-economic recovery and development, he noted.

He emphasised that the country has entered a new development stage with intertwined challenges and opportunities. In this situation, the strength of the great national unity bloc and the people’s trust in the Party and State’s leadership need to be further promoted.

PM Phuc called for joint efforts and high resolve to overcome challenges to perform tasks for 2020 and the 2016-2020 period as best as possible./.

Voters appreciate leadership, management of Party, State, Government in COVID-19 response

Latest Coronavirus News in Vietnam & Southeast Asia May 21
VFF Central Committee Tran Thanh Man

Voters and people across the country highly trust and appreciate the leadership of the Party and State, the instruction and management of the Government and the Prime Minister, along with the active engagement of the entire political system in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF).

The VFF presented a report on opinions and petitions of voters and people to the opening sitting of the 9th session of the 14th National Assembly in Hanoi on May 20.

President of the VFF Central Committee Tran Thanh Man said following the NA’s 8th session, the Presidium of the VFF Central Committee, in coordination with the NA Standing Committee, received and summed up 3,385 opinions and petitions submitted by voters and people nationwide through NA delegations in localities and VFF organisations at all levels.

Overseas Vietnamese voiced their thanks to the Party and State for bringing those in disadvantaged situation back to the country. They also praised the support provided by Vietnam to countries hit by the pandemic.

The public also acknowledged the Party and State’s proactive and flexible leadership and management in implementing the dual tasks of fighting the epidemic and maintaining production and business.

They applauded the support package worth 62 trillion VND (2.66 billion USD) for the poor and vulnerable groups in society, while calling for transparency and close monitoring to ensure the support reach the right beneficiaries.

Voters and the public expressed concern over the biggest ever difficulties and challenges as the pandemic has caused widespread impacts on every field in social life and the economy.

They asked the State to promote the development of the support industry to reduce dependence on imports for material supply, and work to better tap new markets in partner countries in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

Voters and the public also highly valued acknowledged the efforts made by the health care sector in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, they are indignant at some violations of bidding and purchasing of medical equipment that caused losses to the State, calling for strict punishment of such illegal acts.

Besides the pandemic, the Mekong Delta is facing unprecedented erosion, drought and saline intrusion, while the northern mountainous provinces are hit by whirlwinds and hailstorms.

Voters asked the State to continue implementing concerted measures to mitigate losses caused by natural disasters and stabilise agricultural production and people’s life.

Based on voters and people’s opinions and petitions, the Presidium of the VFF Central Committee made several major proposals to the NA and the Government, including building and effectively implementing socio-economic development plans in the new situation in combination with COVID-19 control measures. The Government’s support packages should be implemented quickly to help enterprises early restore production and business activities and people overcome difficulties./.

People joining voluntary social insurance down due to COVID-19

Latest Coronavirus News in Vietnam & Southeast Asia May 21
A worker completes procedures related to social insurance for residents

The number of people joining voluntary social insurance decreased sharply due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said the Vietnam Social Security (VSS).

The information was declared in an online conference with the theme “Developing volunteer social insurance in the COVID-19 pandemic”, held by the VSS and Nhan Dan (The People’s) newspaper on May 19.

In the first half of this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many enterprises had to reduce staff and conduct social distancing. As a result, many workers temporarily stopped work or ended contracts, which affected targets related to developing the number of people joining social insurance this year.

The targets this year are to have at least 300,000 more people with voluntary social insurance, raising the total number of people with social insurance to at least 800,000.

Developing the number of people with social insurance last year was considered one of best points of all activities of the social security sector. However, since the beginning of this year, the development has faced a lot of difficulties because of the pandemic.

Dinh Mai Hanh, deputy head of the Receipts Division under the VSS, said uncompleted statistics by April 30 showed that about 557,000 people had voluntary social insurance, a reduction of 16,000 compared with the end of last year, and down by 11,000 compared with March this year.

Hanh said the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the sector from developing new participants whereas old ones had to stop.

Besides, education about the insurance policies was not implemented as planned.

 

“Due to social distancing, we cannot work with other sector to organise conferences introducing the policies to residents,” she said.

Most people with voluntary social insurance are informal workers, they did not work during the pandemic so they stopped joining the insurance.

At present, the way to encourage people is via conference held by the Vietnam Post.

Implementing social distancing, the conference was not held as regular this year.

Tran Chi Trung, head of the Portal Financial Services under the Vietnam Post, said COVID-19 prevention and control in Vietnam had recorded significant results and socio-economic activities returned to normal.

Education for social security policies will be promoted to complete the target of having 300,000 more participants by the end of this year.

It’s scheduled that on May 23, the VSS will work with the Vietnam Post to launch a month-long campaign of education on volunteer social insurance.

The launching ceremony will be broadcast to different places in 63 provinces and cities across the country.

Hanh said: “We see that after difficulties caused by the pandemic, workers will more and more understand the importance of social, health and unemployment insurance.”

Vietnamese, Chinese army medical corps exchange experiences in battling COVID-19

Latest Coronavirus News in Vietnam & Southeast Asia May 21

At the video conference (Photo: qdnd.vn)

Army medical corps from Vietnam and China took part in a video conference on COVID-19 prevention and control on May 20.

The event was co-chaired by Colonel Nguyen Van Giang of the General Logistics Department of the Vietnam’s People Army (VPA) and Colonel Li Rui of the Health Department of under the Logistic Support Department of the Central Military Commission of China.

The two sides exchanged experiences in organising forces to battle the disease, as well as informed each other of the development and production of test kits and research into vaccines for COVID-19.

They also shared experiences in health care for soldiers and civilians and discussed future cooperation.

Giang underlined that the army medical corps of Vietnam has exerted efforts and taken synchronous and effective measures in the fight against COVID-19.

No infections have been recorded in the army so far, he stressed.

The Chinese side spoke highly of Vietnam’s results in fighting COVID-19, voicing their gratitude for the timely support of the VPA during the first days of disease prevention and control./.

Cambodia lifts ban on entry of visitors from six countries

Latest Coronavirus News in Vietnam & Southeast Asia May 21

People wearing masks are seen on a street in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, March 25, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua/VNA)

Cambodia has lifted a ban on entry of visitors from Iran, Italy, Germany, Spain, France and the US that had been put in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19, the Health Ministry said on May 20.

However, foreign visitors would still need to present a certificate no more than 72 hours old confirming that they are not infected with the coronavirus and proof of 50,000 USD worth of health insurance while in Cambodia, the ministry said.

They also would be quarantined for 14 days after arrival at government-designated facilities and tested for the virus, it added, but did not specify where.

The Cambodian Health Ministry said that the last COVID-19 patient has recovered and been discharged from hospital on May 16, leaving the country with zero cases.

Cambodia will reopen all museums in June after it has found no new COVID-19 infections for more than a month, Health Minister Mam Bunheng said.

In a letter sent to Culture Minister Phoeurng Sackona on May 19 and released to the media one day later, Bunheng said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen approved the reopening of the museums last week.

To avoid the risks of new COVID-19 infections, Bunheng advised all museums to follow health and hygiene measures by screening visitors’ body temperature, providing them with alcohol or antibacterial gel for handwashing, and keeping social distancing among them.

On the same day, Indonesia launched its domestically-made medical equipment to fasten the country’s efforts to handle the outbreak.

Pieces of the equipment, comprising rapid diagnostic test kits, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) kits and artificial intelligence (AI) to triage COVID-19 patients, are developed by the Research and Technology Ministry's consortium for the COVID-19 studies, including state-owned enterprises, private companies, universities and research institutes.

Research and Technology Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said at a virtual launching event he hoped the products can mark the awakening of Indonesia's innovation.

ASEAN’s efforts against COVID-19 lauded

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has coped with COVID-19 quite well with Vietnam serving as the ASEAN Chair 2020, heard an online seminar held by the Centre for International Law (CIL) under the National University of Singapore on May 20.

Scholars and officials shared the view that apart from the pandemic combat, the grouping has made outstanding performance in balancing relations with its major partners.

Dr. Tan Hsien-Li, Director for the ASEAN Law and Policy Programme at the CIL, said the sharing of information at ASEAN video conferences has helped raise the awareness of countries about the acute respiratory disease, and better their information work.

Prof. Tommy Koh, CIL Chairman, pointed to solidarity and cooperation as two important identities of ASEAN during the hard time, citing the medical support Vietnam and Brunei have provided for other ASEAN member countries.

Vietnamese Ambassador to Singapore Tao Thi Thanh Huong said Vietnam, in its capacity as the ASEAN Chair 2020, and other ASEAN member countries have taken prompt actions and closely coordinated and cooperated with each other, and with their partners in the fight against the pandemic.

It is the close coordination that has helped the countries contain the spread of the COVID-19, and ensure food security and safety, she stressed, adding it must be maintained in the post-pandemic recovery period and the implementation of the grouping’s goals.

Participating scholars also lauded Vietnam’s achievements in the pandemic combat, especially its prompt and drastic response./.

Thai PM instructs all agencies to oversee people’s well-being during COVID-19

A meeting of Thai cabinet ministers on May 20 followed up on the school milk and lunch projects during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the first semester of the 2020 academic year being postponed to July 1, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of the Interior have taken measures to ensure that lunch and milk are served to students as planned.

Thai Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, said he would like to thank all officials and sectors for addressing the COVID-19 situation and helping those in need. He expressed his concern for people’s well-being and personnel who are on the front line, and said the government is considering measures to assist them.

Regarding online classes that have posed issues for some people, the Prime Minister explained that they are only there to serve students temporarily. Schools will resume normal classes until the situation improves. The Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and the Ministry of Public Health, will continue to evaluate the situation until there is a vaccine for COVID-19.

The cabinet meeting on May 20 acknowledged the school milk and lunch projects during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the school milk project, milk is provided to school students for 260 days per academic year. After the Ministry of Education instructed all schools to reopen on July 1, the milk allocation was adjusted as follows:

- If the semester begins on July 1, 2020, students will be given ultra-high temperature (UHT) milk, provided by the project from May 18 to June 30, 2020.

- If the semester begins after July 1, 2020, or if students still attend online classes or take turns attending school, UHT milk will be provided until the situation returns to normal.

Concerning the school lunch project, students from kindergarten to sixth grade will receive lunch meals for 200 days per academic year, with a lunch fee of 20 baht per person per day. If students still attend online classes or take turns attending school, the lunch fee will be given to their guardians to help them prepare lunch at home until the situation returns to normal, starting July 1, 2020. It will be in effect until the situation returns to normal./.

Thailand to open border for Cambodians seeking emergency medical help

Thailand will allow residents in the Cambodian province of Oddar Meanchay, who need medical attention, to cross the border and seek emergency treatment in the country.

It was a result of low-level negotiations between both sides at the Oddar Meanchay international checkpoints while Cambodia and Thailand are continuing a lockdown of their common border to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, it does not apply to patients with symptoms of COVID-19.

Oddar Meanchay governor Pen Kosal told a press conference on May 20 that talks on border cooperation to prevent the virus spread have been ongoing between the provincial authorities and their counterparts in Thailand’s Surin and Sisaket provinces.

He said both sides have agreed to work together to strengthen preventive measures at the border and discussed cooperation to allow the trade and transportation of goods.

Khlork Huot, director of the Oddar Meanchay health department, said the Thai authorities in both provinces agreed to allow only special cases to cross the border for emergency treatment, adding that patients should be clear from COVID-19.

Cambodian Health Minister Mam Bunheng confirmed earlier this week that the country recorded no new case of the virus and all of its 122 patients have recovered.

Meanwhile, Thailand recorded only one new COVID-19 case on May 20, raising its total to 3,034, including 56 deaths. As many as 2,888 fully recovered and were discharged from hospitals./.

COVID-19: Cambodia orders restaurant owners to follow preventive measures

Latest Coronavirus News in Vietnam & Southeast Asia May 21

Spraying disinfectant at a school in Cambodia (Source: Phnom Penh Post)

Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng has warned that any restaurants which do not follow medical guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 would be temporarily closed until they comply with regulations.

In a statement on May 18, Sreng said some restaurant and food stall owners are not implementing measures put in place by the Health Ministry to protect themselves and customers.

The owners must provide hand sanitiser at the entrance of their premises and assign staff to check the temperature of customers before allowing them in, he added.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s government said the country will stockpile almost 400,000 doses of Favipiravir – an antiviral drug touted as a treatment for COVID-19 – in case of a second wave of infection.

Indonesia has decided to extend social distancing measures until June 4 to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

To date, Indonesia has recorded 18,496 cases tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 with 1,221 deaths – the highest number in Southeast Asia./.

ComfortDelGro trials plastic shields to protect taxi drivers in Singapore

Latest Coronavirus News in Vietnam & Southeast Asia May 21

V-shield installed in a taxi (Photo courtesy of ComfortDelGro)

Taxi giant ComfortDelGro Corp will install 400 of its cabs with plastic shields to separate drivers from passengers as an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The company said on May 20 that the V-shield is made of a hard, transparent plastic material. It covers the driver's cabin entirely and has two "window" openings for passengers to make payment.

It is also expected to serve as an added protection against any violent physical harm.

ComfortDelGro Taxi Chief Executive Ang Wei Neng said: "Our cabbies are exposed to passengers throughout the day and night. While our drivers take as much precaution as they can by wearing masks and constantly disinfecting their cabs, there is still a risk. These shields will further reduce that level of risk as it serves as an added layer of protection for the cabbies."

The shields will be installed in about 50 taxis each week starting from May 20. If the trial proves to be successful, more taxis will have V-shields installed.

ComfortDelGro is one of the biggest road transportation companies in the world, with 41,600 buses, taxis and chartered cars operating in Singapore, Australia, China, the UK, Ireland, Malaysia and Vietnam. Singapore is the company’s largest market with 17,400 taxis./.

Cambodia grateful for Vietnamese NA’s support in fighting COVID-19

Latest Coronavirus News in Vietnam & Southeast Asia May 21
General Secretary of the Cambodian National Assembly Leng Peng Long (R) hands over a thank-you letter from the NA's Chairperson to Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia Vu Quang Minh

General Secretary of the Cambodian National Assembly Leng Peng Long on May 20 expressed his gratitude for 30,000 face masks the Vietnamese National Assembly (NA) granted to its Cambodian counterpart and the Cambodian Senate.

At a ceremony to receive the gift in Phnom Penh, he affirmed that the gift partly meets the need for medical supplies to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

It also expresses the friendship and solidarity between the two countries in general and the two legislatures in particular.

Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia Vu Quang Minh said that in the context of COVID-19 seriously affecting the world, countries must stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the fight against the disease.

This small gift, he went on, shows Vietnam’s willingness to share difficulties with Cambodia in dealing with challenges created by COVID-19./.

 
 

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