More COVID-19 cases reported in Southeast Asia
COVID-19 testing site in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Photo: Xinhua/VNA)
Some Southeast Asian countries continued to record more COVID-19 cases on May 28.
The Singaporean Ministry of Health confirmed 373 new COVID-19 infections in this country on May 28, raising the total cases to 33,249.
Among the new ones, none are Singaporeans or permanent residents, and the vast majority are work permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories.
The last time Singapore saw no new COVID-19 cases among citizens or permanent residents was on February 23, which was also the last time there were no new coronavirus cases reported in the country.
As of May 28, Singapore had 17,267 recoveries from the disease, or 53 percent of the COVID-19 patients, while there were 23 deaths.
The Malaysian Ministry of Health reported 10 new cases, adding up to 7,629 infections of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the country. Meanwhile, the number of fatalities was kept at 115.
Meanwhile, an additional 539 cases were recorded in the Philippines, the largest single-day increase since the virus emerged in the country in January, bringing the total number to 15,588. The death toll also rose to 921 after 17 more patients succumbed to the viral disease.
Patients fully recovering from COVID-19 there reached 3,598, including 92 new recoveries.
In Indonesia, the Ministry of Health reported 687 more infections and 23 more deaths, raising the respective figures to 24,538 and 1,496. The archipelago nation had 6,240 recovered patients as of May 28./.
Vietnam yet to reopen int'l tourism market to avoid infection risk
The National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control has agreed to pause the reopening of the international tourism market at the current time due to the risk of the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) remaining high amid complicated developments relating to the pandemic globally.
An agreement on the move was reached during a meeting held on May 28 to discuss issues relating to immigration, the arrangement of quarantine activities for experts and high-tech workers entering the country, ways to bring home Vietnamese citizens from abroad, and ideas about restarting international tourism activities.
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long, stated that the country had obtained a number achievements in terms of containing the epidemic, but the entry of experts and skilled labourers from epidemic-hit countries to the nation poses a high risk of infection.
Deputy Minister Long therefore emphasised the need to continue to strictly manage those arriving from abroad in line with regulations in an attempt to avoid the risk of infection spreading among the local community.
Sharing this point of view, representatives of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Public Security have also requested that drastic measures to strictly control and quarantine all people arriving from abroad be implemented.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Dac Phu, former head of the General Department of Preventive Medicine, also said that relevant ministries and localities must strictly follow regulations relating to epidemic prevention by quarantining all international crew members, experts, and overseas students who enter the country, in accordance to current regulations.
Members of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control also agreed not to reopen the international tourism market while taking measures to ensure the safety of both local residents and domestic travelers.
Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Trinh Thi Thuy said that travel businesses and hotels have launched a range of attractive promotion schemes for domestic tourists, with some hotels operating at a full capacity in recent times, representing optimistic signals for the domestic tourism industry.
Japanese newspaper marvels at figure of zero COVID-19 deaths in Vietnam
Japanese media outlet Asahi Shimbun published an article on May 27 noting how Vietnam has been able to stay free of the scourge of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, adding that the nation has not recorded a single death caused by the virus to date.
The newspaper also noted that with the COVID-19 outbreak raging globally for the past four months, Vietnam has largely been left untouched, despite the country's proximity to China where the health crisis is believed to have started.
The author of the article, reporter Asahi Shimbun, believes that the Vietnamese government’s tough measures to combat the COVID-19 can be considered major factors which contributed to the success.
The first cases of infection detected in the nation involved a family from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the location of the initial outbreak, which was reported on January 23. By February 13, the number of infected patients had increased to 16.
In comparison, by February 14, Japan had 41 cases, excluding those who were aboard the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship that was quarantined off of Yokohama Port and was therefore never included in Tokyo's official tally.
At the initial stages of the health crisis, there was little difference in the figures between the two countries, despite Vietnam sharing a border with China that is 1,400 kilometres long. The Japanese newspaper notes that it even seemed suspicious for the nation to have so few cases.
The article outlined that in spite of low official infection rates, the Vietnamese government moved to impose strict measures, triggering suspicions that the actual figures were much higher. Indeed, the start of February saw the Government halt commercial flights to and from China, with February 5 seeing the start of refusals of entry to all foreign nationals who had been in China during the previous two weeks.
Similarly, Japan began to impose strict entry rules for travelers from China on March 5, a month after the nation.
The article emphasised that Vietnamese authorities also decided to delay the reopening of schools until after the Lunar New Year holiday period, with the reopening of schools being postponed several times.
As a result, almost all schools remained closed from late January, with February 13 seeing an entire village close to Hanoi shut down after six residents were found to be infected with the COVID-19.
Whilst this was occurring, both Europe and the United States were experiencing an explosive surge in terms of COVID-19 cases. Indeed, antibody tests being done in a number of Western countries suggest that the actual number of infected patients was likely dozens of times higher than previously thought.
“We are not in a situation where the number of pneumonia patients is increasing at medical facilities,” stated Hiroshi Chiba, a Japanese doctor working at a private clinic in Hanoi. “I think the Vietnamese Government has been taking the harshest measures since early February, and they have proved to be effective.”
As of March 21, the Government made it a requirement for all new arrivals at airports to self-isolate. The following day, it effectively barred foreign nationals from entering the country.
Since April 1, restrictions on going out have largely applied to large cities, such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city.
With the number of infected cases entering from Europe gradually increasing, the Government moved to aggressively isolate infected patients, as well as those that had previously come into contact with people arriving from abroad, by placing them into quarantine in hospitals, homes, and military facilities.
The Japanese publication notes that the country’s socialist ideology is not the main factor in the decision making process behind the country’s actions, but rather, the measures were deemed to be the most effective way in which to contain the virus with limited medical and economical resources.
The article also hailed the drastic measures imposed by the Vietnamese Government to contain the SARS outbreak that flared up back in 2003, noting that the nation became the first country to exterminate SARS from its territory.
Canada newswire: Vietnam – standard in COVID-19 fight
|Guest workers repatriated from the Republic of Korea are kept in quarantine at a military unit in Da Nang city|
Canada’s Globe and Mail newswire on May 27 ran an article saying that Vietnam’s COVID-19 fighting record will stand out as a remarkable, perhaps unique, achievement, calling the country as a standard in the fight.
The article said Vietnam has been loosening quarantine measures since late April. Patient 91, a 43-year-old British pilot, is on life support in a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, and saving him has become a national priority. His condition deteriorated to the point that he was left with only 10-percent lung capacity.
It stressed that Vietnam’s success was no accident. Its 1,450km border with China and frequent visitors from Wuhan, the site of the original outbreak in December and January, meant that Vietnam could have been overrun with cases. But it acted fast and did not wait for official warnings from the World Health Organisation (WHO) before it closed its borders, locked down its economy and launched mass testing, tracing and quarantine measures.
Guy Thwaites, a professor of infectious diseases and Director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam, said the country swung into action early because it was well aware of the dangers of unchecked infectious diseases. In the past 20 years, it has suffered from outbreaks of SARS, avian influenza, measles, dengue fever and hand-foot-and-mouth disease, which attacks young children.
“The Vietnamese are very respectful of the threat of infectious diseases and know they have to be treated early,” he said. “They were well prepared”.
A new academic report on Vietnam’s response to the pandemic, written by Prof. Thwaites and about 20 doctors and scientists, concluded that the early lockdown plus the extensive testing, contact tracing and mandatory quarantines for people who had come into contact with anyone who had tested positive were behind Vietnam’s success in preventing COVID-19 deaths. It said the tracing and quarantine measures were “especially effective given that nearly half of those infected did not develop symptoms.”
By the beginning of May, more than 200,000 people had been put into quarantine in government buildings, military camps, hotels or at home.
Thwaites said the tracing effort did not rely on sophisticated technology, but old-fashioned, shoe-leather epidemiology. Most of the country’s relatively few cases were travellers, including Vietnamese nationals, flying into the country.
He said he believes the low infection figures and lack of fatalities to be accurate, as he has access to official data and visits to local hospitals./.
Vietnamese NA presents medical supplies to African, Middle East countries' parliaments
National Assembly Secretary General and Chairman of the NA Office Nguyen Hanh Phuc presented medical supplies to parliaments of Algeria, Iran, Mozambique, Palestine and South Africa, and the Indian Red Cross Society.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Phuc said the COVID-19 pandemic has spread to 213 countries and territories, causing severe losses on economic and social areas worldwide.
Vietnam has so far recorded 327 infection cases, 278 of them have fully recovered, and zero deaths. The country has gone more than 40 days without transmission in the community and entered a new period of fighting the epidemic and restoring the economy.
During the fight against COVID-19, Vietnam has received support from countries, international friends, he said, hoping that the gift of the Vietnamese legislature will help the countries soon win over the pandemic.
On behalf of recipients, Palestinian Ambassador to Vietnam Saadi Salama expressed his profound thanks to the Vietnamese NA and people for providing assistance for parliaments and people of countries.
He believed that all-around ties between Vietnam and countries, and between Vietnamese and foreign legislatures, would continue growing./.
Vietnam records no new COVID-19 community infections in 43 days
The Ngoc Son Temple, a tourist attraction in Hanoi, is sterilised in response to COVID-19. (Photo: vietnamplus)
Vietnam has gone through 43 straight days without any new coronavirus infections found in the community as of 6 pm on May 29.
According to the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, the total cases still stands at 327, including 187 imported ones.
As many as 278 out of the 327 patients or 85 percent of the total have recovered, and there has been no death so far.
The 49 remainders are being treated at nine national and provincial medial facilities, with eight testing negative once for SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes the acute respiratory disease, and 17 negative at least twice.
A total of 8,869 people who had close contact with COVID-19 patients or returned from pandemic-hit areas are under health monitoring, of whom 49 were quarantined at hospitals, 7,008 at other concentrated facilities and 1,812 at home and place of residence./.
Indonesia considers tourism resumption, Cambodia, Thailand tighten border control
Indonesia is planning to reopen Bali to tourists while Cambodia and Thailand have moved to increase border control to prevent further COVID-19 transmission.
Indonesia’s popular holiday destination Bali is expected to resume tourism activities soon.
Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Wishnutama Kusubandio said on May 28 that Bali is one of the Indonesian provinces that could be allowed to reopen to international visitors.
Bali Vice Governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati also stated earlier that his province is ready to carry out requirements to become a safe destination for foreign tourists after the pandemic.
The Nusa Dua area of Bali is set to be the pilot area for the “new normal” scenario in the tourism sector as proposed by hotel and restaurant groups in the province.
Last week, the local administration discussed this issue with tourism businesses and provincial agencies to issue new health protocols to ensure safety for travellers when tourism activities resume.
In Cambodia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng asked the administration in localities that border Thailand to increase professional measures at border checkpoints to prevent Cambodian workers from entering Thailand, which will shut its border until June 30 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
He said on May 27 that border gates are currently closed, so illegal migration to Thailand must be prevented, especially when the neighbouring country is still in the state of emergency.
Meanwhile, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in cooperation with Phnom Penh City Bus (PPCB) Administration and PPCB Authority, said they are implementing virus prevention measures and training staff to minimise the risk of virus infections for bus drivers and passengers once operations resume.
The PPCB Authority also said it is planning to impose regulations permitting a maximum of 20 passengers per bus in order to adhere to distancing guidelines. However, it doesn’t know when exactly the government will allow operations to resume.
The Cambodian Government on May 26 decided to relax the ban on sports activities after the COVID-19 situation in the country had shown improvement.
In Thailand, the Padang Besar border checkpoint in Sadao district of Songkhla province, which is adjacent to Malaysia, was closed again on May 28 after local authorities had discovered some new COVID-19 cases among Thais returning from overseas.
The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said some new patients returned from Saudi Arabia through Padang Besar.
Apart from Padang Besar, the Sadao checkpoint on the Thailand-Malaysia border remains closed since April 23 for fear of virus transmission.
Thailand recorded 11 new COVID-19 cases on May 28, the first double-digit increase in several weeks, raising the total to 3,065. The numbers of recoveries and fatalities were 2,945 and 57, respectively.
The CCSA noted all the 11 new infections are Thais returning from India, Qatar and Kuwait and are currently in quarantine, and there were no new locally-infected cases./.
Online music marathon to raise funds for people affected by COVID-19
|The online music marathon will take place from 4 pm to 10 pm on May 30.|
An online music marathon entitled “Resurrection” will take place on May 30 to raise funds for charity activities supporting people affected by COVID-19.
The concert will be held continuously from 4 pm to 10 pm via Facebook, Youtube and MyTV channel.
The programme will draw the participation of many famous singers, including My Linh, Quang Dung, Phan Manh Quynh and Uyen Linh as well as directors Le Hoang and Viet Tu and journalist Diem Quynh.
Under the coordination of general director – musician Huy Tuan, the event will feature songs reflecting optimism and pride, along with many stories spreading positive energy and love.
* On May 27, the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee (VFFCC) received VND264 million from the Government Cipher Committee and VND300 million from Vietnam Machinery Installation Corporation for the fight against COVID-19.
So far, the amount of donations sent to the VFF committees at both central and local levels totals at over VND2 trillion, including over VND942 billion to the VFFCC and over VND1 trillion to the VFF committees across 63 provinces and cities.
* Also, yesterday, Quang Ngai Provincial People’s Committee decided to donate VND100 million and medical supplies worth VND366 million to Laos to support the country in COVID-19 prevention and control.
Hanoi delivers aid to almost all people hit by Covid-19
Most of the aid beneficiaries are thankful to the timely support.
As of May 14, Hanoi has delivered aids to 385,390 people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, reaching 99.9% of the people entitled to receive such support, local media reported, citing the municipal Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs’ report at a May 27 meeting.
The report said that 363 people who have not received the payment are mostly those absent from their registered residences.
The department has also dispatched inspection teams to verify the aid payment. The teams reported that most of the aid beneficiaries are thankful to the timely support and that the aids have been delivered to the right people.
Addressing the meeting, Vice Chairman of the Hanoi People's Committee Ngo Van Quy emphasized that the support must be delivered as soon as possible to unskilled laborers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
On April 24, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc signed a decision to roll out a relief package worth VND62 trillion (US$2.7 billion) to support vulnerable people directly affected by Covid-19.
The package covers six beneficiary groups who would receive financial support in cash during three months starting April.
There are three groups of employees entitled to benefit from the US$2.7 billion package, including employees whose labor contracts were suspended, those taking leave without payment; laid-off employees not eligible for unemployment benefits; and workers who have no labor contracts and have lost jobs.
The Hanoi Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs has requested district People's Committees to screen 1.477 million employees eligible to receive the aids, of them 840,000 are people without labor contracts and have lost their jobs. Currently, the districts keep identifying the beneficiaries in accordance with the process and procedures.