COVID-19 threat leads to suspension of bars, karaoke venues in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
A number of crowded bars and karaoke venues operating in Hanoi’s Old Quarter have been temporarily suspended as part of a fresh wave of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention and control measures, according to the Hoan Kiem district People's Committee.
Information regarding the suspension was released by Ngo Van Quy, vice chairman of the Hanoi People's Committee, during an online meeting held on September 23 to discuss measures to combat the COVID-19 epidemic.
A representative from Hoan Kiem district said that following the capital permitting the reopening of bars and karaoke venues, a number of locations on Ta Hien street were packed with people on the first day of their reopening.
The district has therefore requested that these venues be temporarily suspended in order to avoid the increased risk of infection, whilst ensuring COVID-19 preventive measures remain in place.
Furthermore, Nguyen Khac Hien, director of the Hanoi Department of Health, said several local citizens had ignored rules regarding the wearing of face masks in public places, while a number of eateries throughout the capital have yet to deploy a range of effective countermeasures, therefore increasing the possible risks of a resurgence of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Quy therefore requested that relevant units conduct an inspection of bars and karaoke venues, in addition to nightclubs across the capital, in order to take epidemic and fire prevention measures.
Hanoi had previously planned to hold 49 political, cultural, and social events throughout October, although it has now decided to organise 30 events instead due to the potential threat of COVID-19.
Moreover, Quy has asked relevant units to continue to limit the organisation of festivals and large gatherings, while all epidemic prevention measures must be put in place in order to prevent further outbreaks of the epidemic and other seasonal diseases.
Vietnam logs zero new COVID-cases on September 24 morning
Vietnam reported no new COVID-19 cases within the past 12 hours as of 6 a.m on September 24, according to the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.
A health worker in quarantine site
The country has recorded 1,069 SARS-CoV-2 infections so far. Of the total, 691 were locally-transmitted cases, including 551 linked with Da Nang city since the latest coronavirus wave hit the locality on July 25.
As many as 991 patients have recovered while 35 died from complications related to the disease. Most of the fatalities were the elderly with serious underlying health conditions.
Among the patients still under treatment, nine have tested negative for the virus once, 6 twice and 10 thrice.
There are 20,590 people having close contact with confirmed cases or coming from the pandemic-hit regions under quarantine at present, including 336 in hospitals, 13,073 in other quarantine sites, and 7,181 at home.
As the COVID-19 pandemic can return at any time, the Ministry of Health recommended people wear face masks in crowded places, and wash hands with soap or hand sanitiser regularly.
One imported COVID-19 case on September 23
Vietnam confirmed an additional imported COVID-19 case from 6am to 6pm on September 23, according to the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control.
Patient No 1069, 18, entered Vietnam on Flight VN0002 from the US on September 20 and was placed in quarantine in Hung Yen province following her arrival.
After testing positive to SARS-CoV-2 on September 21 and 22, she is now being treated at the second branch of the Central Hospital of Tropical Diseases in Hanoi’s outlying district of Dong Anh.
Of the 1,069 infection cases to date, 691 are local transmissions.
On the same day, Patient No 936 was the last in Da Nang city to be given the all-clear, raising the total number of recoveries nationwide to 991. There have been 35 fatalities to date, with most being elderly or suffering serious underlying conditions.
Among the patients under treatment at medical establishments, nine have tested negative once, six twice, and 10 three times.
Some 20,870 people who had close contact with patients or had been in pandemic-hit areas are in quarantine - 335 in hospitals, 12,932 at other facilities, and 7,585 at home.
Hanoi to enhance COVID-19 prevention measures in public places
COVID-19 preventive measures in public places, especially in bars and karaoke lounges, must be enhanced, said Hà Nội People’s Committee vice chairman Ngo Van Quy.
Despite no new local cases recorded in the capital for more than a month, Hà Nội's health department said the risks of the virus are still high, especially as more international flights started to resume.
“There were definitely signs of negligence in pandemic prevention in public places, especially in some bars and karaoke when they are allowed to operate again,” Quý said during a meeting of the Hà Nội’s COVID-19 Steering Committee on Wednesday.
The municipal health department director Nguyễn Khắc Hiền added: “Therefore, if the disease control efforts were insufficient, especially when people let their guard down, there would be an elevated risk of outbreaks.”
He went on to say reports of many people are not wearing face masks in public, and food and beverage businesses are not complying with prevention measures.
According to Đinh Hồng Phong, vice chairman of Hoàn Kiếm District's People's Committee, donwtown Hà Nội, after months of social distancing measures, the number of visitors to bars and karaoke lounges have hiked after the decision to allow them to reopen, especially in the area around the backpacker street Tạ Hiện during the weekends, so the district authority had sent special force to ensure disease prevention protocols are observed.
“Some bars and karaoke lounges which did not meet the pandemic prevention measures were asked to close down temporarily,” said the vice chairman.
The Hà Nội Health Department’s vice director Trần Thị Nhị Hà told the meeting that all hospitals and health facilities in the city has fulfilled pandemic prevention requirements.
In a recent week, districts inspected 417 private medical and pharmaceutical establishments uncovering and sanctioned 126 violations, mainly not wearing masks and lacking of protection measures for staff and patient information, Hà told the meeting.
Hà recommended districts and wards enhance information dissemination as well as push up training of pandemic prevention for medical workers.
Meanwhile, vice director of the tourism department, Ngô Minh Hoàng, said that as of Tuesday, 27 hotels had registered to receive foreign guests but after inspection, some hotels had not met the set criteria.
He said the municipal tourism department would co-ordinate with the health department to continue to guide implementation of pandemic prevention measures, while at the same time mobilise more establishments to participate in hosting and quarantining foreigners entering Việt Nam.
Hà Nội’s vice chairman Ngô Văn Quý told the meeting the city ensured at least 3,000 beds to serve as paid quarantine when commercial flight routes to Việt Nam are resumed.
“The city would continue to ask people to wear masks in public places, including public transport”, said Quý.
He also requested units to immediately inspect bars, karaoke lounges and discos for pandemic and fire prevention measures.
He also proposed restriction on holding festivals, meetings and celebrations.
For important events, it was necessary to consult the health department to ensure the full implementation of epidemic prevention protocols, he added.
Rapid virus testing to ensure safety at airports
Vietnam has announced plans to resume international flight routes, which is a good sign for economic recovery and especially the airline and tourism industries post-pandemic. How best to ensure safety is a major concern for relevant agencies, however. Rapid virus testing at airports will be a focus, so that safety can be guaranteed.
This production line has a capacity of up to 100,000 test kits a day for rapid COVID-19 testing in Vietnam. Reserves stand at some 1 million kits, which can be mobilised immediately when required. This production unit has also affirmed that when international flights reopen, production capacity can fully meet the need at airports for rapid virus testing kits.
Once the supply of reagents for COVID-19 testing is secure, it is necessary to use express testing methods that are cheap and accurate. It is especially necessary to increase the sensitivity and specificity of the test kit, in order to prevent the virus from spreading in the community.
Rapid testing can easily screen and classify patients within a few hours. Medical experts said that scientific teams, test kit manufacturers, and other involved parties will work closely in adjusting the rapid testing system to achieve the best and most effective results.
As well as sufficient testing equipment, solid preparation of facilities and human resources is needed to ensure safety and control over the pandemic.
Last COVID-19 patient in Da Nang released from hospital
The last COVID-19 patient in central Da Nang city to recover from the disease was discharged from hospital on September 23.
Patient 936, admitted to the Hoa Vang COVID-19 treatment hospital on August 15, tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus three times and will be quarantined at home for a further 14 days.
Today is the 26th straight day Da Nang has been free of any community transmission of COVID-19. The city was the scene of the latest outbreak in Vietnam, which began on July 25.
Dr Dang Cong Quyt from the Hoa Vang COVID-19 treatment hospital said it handled the largest number of patients in mid-August - nearly 200 at a time.
Despite concerns about the lack of specialised medicine and the number of patients with underlying health conditions and related fatalities, thanks to support from medical experts and hospitals in other localities, the hospital managed to cure its patients.
As of the morning of September 23, Vietnam had been free of community transmission of COVID-19 for 20 consecutive days./.
Australian broadcaster lauds Vietnam’s efforts in beating COVID-19 again
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on September 23 ran an article, saying Vietnam has gone more than two weeks without a single case of coronavirus via community transmission, effectively beating the virus for a second time.
The article said from the beginning of the pandemic, the Vietnamese Government went in fast and hard against the virus.
"From an early stage, communications about the virus and the strategy were transparent,” it cited the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as saying.
Guy Thwaites, Director of the Ho Chi Minh City-based Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, told the ABC that "Vietnam is very used to infectious diseases … it's had many outbreaks of infectious diseases over the past 20 years."
"This hasn't been a high-tech response, it's been a very rapid and very well organised response."
According to Thwaites, Vietnamese authorities did all of the simple stuff they did last time, but they did it at scale and they did it rapidly. Pool sampling was used, whereby the samples of five or six people can be tested together. If there is a positive result, all samples will be individually tested.
"Whole households went into one sample," the professor said, adding that communities or neighbourhoods with known cases were targeted first.
"In that way they were able to test the equivalent of around 100,000 people through around 20,000 tests. This allowed them to save a lot of time and money."
Jos Aguiar, an Australian working for a Vietnamese property company in Da Nang, told the ABC that the lockdown was a lot stricter than last time and the response on our street was good, they found a case and quickly locked it down.”
"In our neighbourhood they barricaded both sides of the street, it's an inconvenience but I am happy with the way Vietnam handled it."
Tran Ba Linh of Bath University and Robyn Klingler-Vidra of King's College London have been researching how the Vietnamese community has responded to the pandemic.
They told the ABC that Da Nang locals had "donated money, food and essential goods to the city's largest hospital, which was the epicentre of this second wave.”
"Upon discharge, [one patient] even founded a charity with his friends to produce disinfectant and sanitising booths for hospitals in and around Da Nang," they said.
The Vietnamese Prime Minister announced last week that flights between Vietnam and Seoul, Guangzhou, Taipei and Tokyo would resume, according to the article.
Tourists cannot enter yet, with repatriating Vietnamese and foreigners who are highly-skilled workers or investors given early priority.
Nevertheless, the economic fallout of COVID-19 will not be as punishing for Vietnam as for regional neighbours.
"Vietnam is still being expected to be one of the few countries that will continue to grow in 2020, while the rest of the world is being projected to enter into recession," the ABC cited the international consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers as saying.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) projects Vietnam's economy will grow by 1.8 percent this year, making it one of the only few Southeast Asian economies not to contract.
Nevertheless, Tran and Klingler-Vidra said "most of the people took care of themselves, so there has been little sense of being forced to do anything".
"Masks, social distancing, quarantine, lockdown were not politicised; they were simply tools and measures to keep you and loved ones safe," they were quoted by the article as saying./.
Researchers highlight creativity of Vietnamese amidst COVID-19 pandemic
Tran Ba Linh, a researcher from the University of Bath and Robyn Klingler-Vidra, a Senior Lecturer in Political Economy from King's College London have posted on website theconversation.com a number of articles highlighting the creativity and community spirit of Vietnamese people amidst COVID-19 pandemic.
Implementing a joint research that has been underway for a year, the two researchers visited various localities and interviewed locals directly and virtually to explore creative models to increase productivity and benefit the society in Vietnam.
In their latest article, they showed their special impression at initiatives and contributions of normal people as well as entrepreneurs with strong sense of social responsibility in supporting disadvantaged people and the groups that are hardest hit by COVID-19 pandemic since February this year.
Some innovations have been aimed at preventing further infections, they noted, citing the example of Da Nang-based tech startup BusMap, which has worked with the authorities to create an infection map to help locals avoid hotspots and to find the nearest medical facility.
Meanwhile, newly designed robots have been given the job of disinfecting hospitals and public spaces, with different models developed by a military hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, students at a private university in Hanoi and students at a public university in HCM City.
In the early days of the outbreak, the Ghen Co Vy, or Washing Hand Song, composed by local musicians in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, went viral around the world for its quirky message and dedicated choreography. Since then, ordinary people have written their own COVID-19 songs.
While the above interventions were mainly dedicated to prevention and control, another group of innovators has focused on alleviating the negative social impact of COVID-19.
A famous baker in Saigon by the name of Kao Sieu Luc has used dragon fruit to make bread, sharing his recipe with the country. His intent is to help dragon fruit farmers who cannot export their crops due to Vietnam’s strict travel restrictions. The recipe has been taken up not only by ordinary people but also by other businesses, resulting in the creation of KFC dragon fruit burger. During the second wave, Kao is making dragon fruit mooncakes as the annual autumn festival draws close.
In Hanoi, doctor Khuat Thi Hai Oanh has set up a charity called An Egg A Day to provide food, masks and essential goods for the homeless and extremely poor families throughout northern Vietnam. The charity also helps people in need to find work and accommodation, and it subsidises their rent.
Businessman Hoang Tuan Anh in HCM City has built a mask ATM for his community during the second wave. The machine dispenses free, individually wrapped masks, with a remote operator to ensure fair distribution and to remind recipients to wash their hands before touching the dispenser. During the first wave, Hoang set up the first rice ATM in front of his office. The ATM provides free 1.5kg of rice and was reported to have dispensed 5 tonnes of rice in its first two days. Hoang’s rice and mask dispensers have been replicated by entrepreneurs and charities across the country, added the authors.
Concluding the article, the authors stated that they had been struck by the range and speed of innovations, and awestruck by the people and companies who are working for the greater good.
Nearly 270 Vietnamese citizens safely repatriated from Australia, NZ
Bamboo Airways on September 23 safely repatriated nearly 270 Vietnamese citizens left stranded in Australia and New Zealand due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Passengers on board the flight were minors under 18, pregnant women, elderly people, guest workers with expired labour contracts, students without accommodations due to the closure of dormitories and other special cases.
Vietnamese representative agencies in Australia and New Zealand worked closely with their relevant agencies in the host countries to facilitate the citizens’ travel to airports in Sydney and Melbourne amid local travel restrictions due to COVID-19. They also sent staff to the airports to assist the citizens with necessary procedures before departure.
Bamboo Airways strictly implemented security, safety and epidemiological measures during the flight to prevent the possible spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Right after the plane landed at Can Tho International Airport in southern Vietnam, all crew members and passengers underwent medical check-ups and were transferred to concentrated quarantine facilities in accordance with regulations.
Relevant Vietnamese agencies are arranging similar repatriation flights for Vietnamese citizens overseas wishing to return to the homeland, depending on the epidemic containment situation and quarantine capacity in the country.