Vietnam records one more COVID-19 case

One new case of COVID-19 was detected in the past 24 hours to 6pm December 27, who was put under quarantine right upon arriving in the country, according to the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.

The 1,441th patient was a 60-year-old Vietnamese man who returned home from the US on the flight VN415, which landed in the Noi Bai International Airport on December 21. He is now treated at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases No. 2 in Dong Anh district of Hanoi.

By December 27 evening, Vietnam recorded a total of 1,441 cases of COVID-19, of which 693 were community infections. The number of deaths still remained at 35. As many as 1,303 patients have recovered from the disease.

Of the active patients, eight were tested negative once for SARS-CoV-2, eight twice, and eight thrice.

A total of 16,799 people who had close contact with COVID-19 patients or returned from pandemic-hit areas are being quarantined nationwide./.

F1, F2 cases of COVID-19 patient under quarantine


Many F1 and F2 cases who contacted COVID-19 patient No.1440 at an eatery in My Duc Dong commune, Cai Be district, the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang have been put under urgent quarantine, said Director of the provincial Health Department Tran Thanh Thao on December 27.

The 32-year-old male patient illegally entered Ho Chi Minh City from Cambodia, then travelled to Vinh Long. On the way to Vinh Long, he visited an eatery in Tien Giang on December 24 morning.

He tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on December 25 night and is under quarantine at a hospital in Vinh Long, said the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City on December 26.

All cases under quarantine are in stable condition.

Also on December 27, a delegation from the HCM City Pasteur Institute had a working session with the steering committee for COVID-19 prevention and control of Vinh Long province, where the patient is being treated

Earlier on the same day, Vice Chairman of the An Giang provincial People’s Committee Le Van Phuoc said the patient No.1440 changed his travelling declaration, saying that he illegally entered Vietnam via Long Binh border gate in An Giang instead of Moc Bai border gate in the southern province of Tay Ninh.

Chairman of the An Giang provincial People’s Committee asked border guards and military commands, public security force and authorities of districts, towns and cities, especially five border districts, to enhance border patrols round the clock at open trails.

The provincial Department of Information and Communications was urged to work closely with relevant units to popularise prevention measures at markets, shopping malls, religious establishments and public transport means.

The provincial Health Department was assigned to keep close track of the pandemic at home and abroad to offer timely consultations to the provincial authorities about effective anti-pandemic measures./.

Tay Ninh police bust illegal turtle trading


The police in Tay Ninh Province have detained a local person who illegally stored a large number of sea turtles for illegal trading, according to the Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV). 

The ENV said on December 24 that the local people reported the case to them. Afterwards, they quickly transferred the case to the police in Tay Ninh for investigation. At the house of a woman born in 1973 in Da Hang Hamlet, Go Dau District, the police found 39 sea turtles. Each was from 40cm to 50cm wide.

The police suspected that the specimens might be owned by a ringleader of a larger animal trading ring who was suspected of trading with contacts in China.

The case is being expanded.

From 2010 to the end of the third quarter, ENV recorded 760 violations related to sea turtle protection. This mostly included illegal advertisement, raising and trading.

During this time, the local authorities seized a total of 193 preserved display specimens, 245 live turtles and nearly 7,400 turtle bodies. The local people gave away 68 turtles. The total of turtle shells collected from those violations reached over 1.4 tonnes.

HCM City to move ports out to ease congestion on roads

Ho Chi Minh City will continue to move its ports to its outskirts to ease congestion on roads outside them and build new ones under a national port master plan for 2020-2030.

According to the city's response to the Department of Transport's proposals, a number of ports along the Sai Gon River will be relocated or converted for other use under the plan by 2030.

A number of ports have been relocated from the inner city, including Sai Gon New Port in Binh Thanh District, Ba Son shipyard in District 1 and Sai Gon Port in District 4, partially.

City authorities are planning to build a port capable of handling container ships of up to 200,000DWT in the outlying district of Can Gio.

According to the HCM City Maritime Port Administration, between 2015 and 2020, 166.3 million tonnes of goods passed through HCM City ports, whereas the target is only 159.9 million tonnes by 2030.

The country now has 44 ports, according to the Vietnam Marine Administration.

Exemplary students in studying and following Uncle Ho’s teachings honoured

On the evening of December 25, the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) held a ceremony in Hanoi to honour exemplary students in studying and following President Ho Chi Minh’s thought, morality and lifestyle.  

The event was attended by Politburo member and Permanent Member of the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat Tran Quoc Vuong, Politburo member and Head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Communication and Education Vo Van Thuong, and Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam.

In his remarks, MOET Minister Phung Xuan Nha hailed the 130 honoured students as beautiful flowers with exceptional academic results; dynamism and enthusiasm in activities of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union and the Ho Chi Minh Young Pioneer Organisation; initiatives and creativity in study and scientific research; and noble humanitarian gestures, contributing to spreading the spirit of studying and following Uncle Ho’s examples among younger generations.

At the ceremony, the organising committee presented awards to outstanding individuals and collectives of the 2020 contest, titled “Youth study and follow the Ho Chi Minh thought, morality and lifestyle”.

Three first prizes went to Le Minh Tue, a student at Hong Bang Secondary School (Hong Bang District, Hai Phong City); Nguyen Nhat Huy, a student at the University of Sciences – Hue University (Thua Thien Hue Province); and Hoang Thi Thu, a female teacher at Nguyen Duc Canh Secondary School (Dong Trieu Town, Quang Ninh Province).

In addition, the organisers awarded nine second prizes, 18 third prizes and 60 fourth prizes. The collective prizes were presented to 10 Provincial Departments of Education and Training, 20 training institutions and 10 high schools with the largest number of contestants.

This is the sixth year that the contest has been jointly held by the MOET, the Party Central Committee’s Communication and Education Commission, and the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee. It aims to enable youth union members, young people and students both at home and abroad to learn more about President Ho Chi Minh and the values of his Testament, as well as the country’s glorious history and sea and island sovereignty, thereby contributing to education on morality and lifestyle and fostering revolutionary ideals among Vietnam’s younger generations.

Bright Future fund has supported more than 28,000 poor cancer patients 

In the nine years since its inception, the Supportive Fund for Cancer Patients – Bright Future has mobilised and spent over VND50 billion (US$2.17 million) to support more than 28,000 poor cancer patients nationwide.

The information was released during a conference to review the fund’s operations and pay tribute to its donors in Hanoi on December 25.

In addition, the fund has been supporting thousands of patients with cancer medicines, while carrying out cancer screening for early detection for over 72,000 people. It has also organised cancer prevention and control forums, improved the capacity of nearly 1,000 doctors, and implemented a series of meaningful programmes for cancer patients.

In 2020 alone, the Bright Future fund assisted and presented gifts to 987 poor cancer patients with a total value of nearly VND3.5 billion.

In his letter sent to the fund on the occasion, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc highly appreciated the fund’s operations and achievements, while extending his deep tribute to doctors and employees of the fund, as well as organisations, individuals and philanthropists accompanying the fund.

He encouraged the fund to build on the positive results attained to overcome difficulties and continue to be a reliable address and a big source of motivation helping poor cancer patients to access treatment and move towards a brighter future.

Speaking at the conference, President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee Tran Thanh Man praised the humanitarian activities and noble acts of the fund and donors over the past nine years. He called on businesses, organisations and individuals, both at home and overseas, to continue joining hands with the Party, the State, the VFF and the Bright Future fund in reducing poverty and ensuring social security, especially through providing better care for poor cancer patients.

He asked for the fund’s more effective fundraising to support poor cancer patients, with priority given to those in ethnic minority areas, families with revolutionary contributions, and those in remote and isolated localities.

Quang Ninh holds Ao dai festival to promote tourism


Stories about heritages in the northern province of Quang Ninh were told through a show of 17 collections of Ao dai (traditional Vietnamese long dress) at Quang Ninh 2020 Ao dai festival organised in Cam Pha city on December 26.

The event, jointly held by the provincial Department of Culture and Sport in collaboration with Cam Pha city People’s Committee, is part of the activities in the tourism stimulus programme devised to complete the target of hosting 3 million visitors in Quarter 4.

More than 100 artists and models from Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Hue and Da Lat joined the Ao dai performance.

The festival is hoped to promote Cam Pha city and Quang Ninh as a whole as a safe, friendly and attractive destination for visitors.

Earlier, Ha Long city launched an Ao dai week to honour the beauty of Vietnamese women./.


Vinh Long quickly traces close contacts of illegal cross-border migrant

The Health Department of the southern province of Vinh Long has quickly put in quarantine a person who returned from abroad from a pandemic hit country without declaration, conducted COVID-19 tests and traced people who had close contact with this person.

Director of the provincial Department of Health Van Cong Minh reported the actions to an urgent meeting held by the provincial steering board for COVID-19 prevention and control on December 26 as the locality has recorded some people returning from abroad without reporting to authorities.

The director also affirmed that the department has got response measures ready for the case the person tests positive with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

At the event, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Lu Quang Ngoi ordered the local health sector to make meticulous preparation in terms of equipment and human resources for quarantine and treatment for COVID-19 patients.

The police force must work closely with localities in contact tracing, he said, adding members of the steering board should stand ready to activate responses and prevention measures when a COVID-19 case is detected.

Communication work should be paid due attention to raise public awareness of the importance of medical declaration.

Vinh Long has documented five COVID-19 infections so far, all of which were detected in quarantine. The patients are receiving treatment at the hospital for tuberculosis and lung diseases. In addition, 133 Vietnamese returning from foreign countries are being quarantined in a military facility in Loan My commune, Tam Binh district.

Social responsibility practices in Southeast Asian fishery sector discussed

Social responsibility practices in the Southeast Asian fishery sector was the focus of a regional roundtable discussion on December 26.

The event was jointly held by the Vietnam Tuna Association (Vinatuna) and Oxfam in Vietnam, with the participation of tuna processors, fishermen from central Khanh Hoa province, and online rapporteurs in Southeast Asia.

Vu Dinh Giap, President of Vinatuna, highlighted the important role by the fishery sector in economic development of Vietnam and other Southeast Asian nations in general.

Vietnamese aquatic products have been shipped to more than 100 countries and territories worldwide, he said, noting that the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) that came into force since August has helped to consolidate the foothold of these products in the market.

The discussion offers an opportunity for domestic and foreign delegates to exchange models and experience in social responsibility practice in the seafood sector, Giap added.

Nguyen Huu Huy Hoang, from the Vinatuna, shared the outcome of a survey on social responsibility in fisheries in five Vietnamese localities, and suggested revamping management of offshore fishermen, explaining that many of them are working without labour contracts, social insurance and satisfactory wages.

He proposed state agencies devise legal frameworks and documents guiding social responsibility practices, while improving the capacity of local officials in the sector.

A group of researchers from Da Nang University called for gender equality and women’s empowerment in fishery.

The delegates also touched upon the situation regarding social responsibility in Vietnam’s fishery industry, and engaged in multilateral dialogues to seek suitable policies to promote social responsibility practices in the regional fishery industry in the time to come./.

Vietnam aims to raise average housing floor area per person


Vietnam’s average housing floor area per person in 2020 was only 24sq.m, failing to meet the set target of 25 sq.m, according to an official from the Ministry of Construction.

This is the only target that has been missed, while the others have been fulfilled, said Deputy Construction Minister Nguyen Thanh Nghi at a conference of the ministry in Hanoi on December 26.

He said the sector has posted a growth rate from 8.5-8.7 percent annually during the 2016-2020 period, while the rate of urbanisation reached about 40 percent.

Up to 90 percent of urban residents have accessed clean water, and the rate of garbage collection and treatment in urban areas has reached 91 percent, the official reported.

Pointing out the sluggishness of projects upgrading old apartment buildings, Nghi said the ministry has urged localities to speed up the evaluation of those buildings and renovate severely-damaged and dangerous blocks.

The ministry has also launched working groups to inspect the upgrading and reconstruction of old apartment buildings in Hanoi, HCM City and other localities, he went on.

Nghi said the housing development policies are not consistent and not strong enough, thus failing to encourage economic sectors to invest in social housing.

Despite those difficulties, the ministry still sets a target of raising the average housing floor area per person to about 26-27 sq.m in the next five years, with 26sq.m in urban areas and 25 sq.m in rural areas.

It will submit to the Prime Minister a national housing development strategy for the 2021-2030 period, with a vision towards 2030, and work on a programme on accommodation support for rural poor households, and another assisting the poor in building flood-proof houses, among others, the official said./.

Hanoi’s Vietnam-Bulgaria Friendship Association established


A congress was held in Hanoi on December 27 to launch the establishment of the Hanoi chapter of the Vietnam – Bulgaria Friendship Association (VBFA) for the 2020-2025 tenure.

The event drew nearly 300 delegates representing around 8,000 Vietnamese who used to study and work in Bulgaria.

Speaking at the event, Vice President of the municipal Association of Friendship Organisations Tran Thi Phuong said the move holds significance at a time when the two nations mark the 70th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties. 

She wished that the chapter would build on its past achievements and contribute to socio-economic development and external relations of the city in the future.

First Secretary of the Bulgarian Embassy in Vietnam Blagov Prodanov expressed his belief that the congress would discuss opportunities to further deepen Vietnam – Bulgaria ties with specific initiatives. 

During the tenure, the chapter will regularly consolidate its executive board, expand operations and boost ties with the VBFA, the Bulgarian Embassy, businesses and community in Hanoi.

It will also popularise Vietnam, its history, culture and achievements, thereby fostering traditional friendship between the two countries' people, and the two capital cities.

The congress elected a 27-strong executive board led by former Political Commissar of Military Hospital 108 Le Thu Ha./.

Vietnam – ASEAN Youth Festival kicks off in Hanoi

The Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union (HCYU) Central Committee opened the Vietnam – ASEAN Youth Festival in Hanoi on December 27.

The event reviewed ASEAN cooperation activities run throughout the year and offered an opportunity for regional youth to get together. It featured tents depicting ten ASEAN member states under the theme of “Cohesive and Responsive”, ASEAN folk games, a conference on Vietnam’s achievements as ASEAN 2020 Chair, and a musical concert.

In his opening speech, HCYU Central Committee First Secretary Nguyen Anh Tuan said the union held six cooperation activities for young people in the region in 2020.

He said they included the ASEAN Youth Leaders’ Conference, which finalised the Joint Statement of ASEAN Youth Ministers on Enhancing Youth Cooperation for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN Community that shaped youth development and collaboration for 2021 – 2025.

Tuan also mentioned the implementation of the ASEAN young diplomats exchange programme and the organisation of the 5th ASEAN Young Entrepreneurs' Carnival.

These activities affirmed the strong commitment of Vietnam and other member states in building a cohesive and responsive ASEAN Community, the official stressed.

Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Minh Vu said the strength and future of the bloc are in the hands of the younger generation, advising youths prepare themselves with knowledge and skills needed for the 4th Industrial Revolution./.

Procedures for mobile network switching urged to be simplified

Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Phan Tam urged mobile network operators to further simplify procedures for mobile number portability (MNP) services to create convenience for users to switch networks.

From November 2018 when MNP services were launched in Vietnam to December 7, more than 2.7 million mobile subscribers switched their network with MNP services with a total of 6.2 million switch registrations.

The percentage of subscribers who successfully changed was 92.29 percent while 4.49 percent were rejected.

The MNP services saw significant increases in the number of involved subscribers from 6,814 in 2018 to more than 2.7 million as of December 7, and in successful switches from 26.53 percent in 2018 to 92.9 percent.

According to the Vietnam Telecommunications Authority, the MNP services became an important factor in creating a competitive market for mobile network providers and create pressure forcing enterprises to increase network coverage and services quality.

The implementation of MNP services still encountered a number of difficulties due to the lack of compatibility of telecommunications systems of different operators at different points of time, requiring coordination between the management agencies and network providers.

Tam said that Vietnam was the fourth country in ASEAN to implement MNP services, a move in response to the recommendations of international organisations in which Vietnam was a member as well as the commitments of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"The MNP services not only bring benefits to users but also promote the development of the telecommunications market," Tam said.

This service required a change in thinking by telecommunication enterprises and meeting demand for network switching was their responsibility, he said, adding that the industry was striving to ensure transparency in eligibility for MNP services, cancelling methods and compensation as well as setting up hotlines to solve complaints.


Tam urged the Vietnam Telecommunications Authority to closely watch the implementation of MNP services and tackle difficulties as well as handle violations.

Mobile network operators should move to provide MNP services completely online and reduce the time for completing network switching to within one day, Tam said.

He also urged conditions for MNP services to be eased to allow more users to switch networks.

Twenty initiatives for community honoured

Twenty initiatives to address social issues were honoured during a ceremony held in Hanoi on December 26 reviewing the third programme “Initiatives for Community”.

The honoured were among over 400 entries sent to the biennial programme which was co-hosted by the Communist magazine, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Hanoi municipal People’s Committee, the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour and the Vietnam Electricity.

Two first prizes went to the initiative on building a smart electricity distribution system in Da Nang city by Vo Van Phuong, Le Van Phu, Nguyen Hoang Nhan and Le Hoang Son, and another on teaching children with autism in an integrated education environment by Do Thi Hoang Mai in Hanoi.

Three second prizes were awarded to the initiatives on low-budget gratitude housing model by architects Bui The Long, Vo The Duy and Nguyen Thi Xuan Thanh from Ho Chi Minh City, flood-proof housing programme by Pham Thi Huong Giang from Ho Chi Minh City, and wheelchairs for the disabled by Le Huy Tich from Hoa Binh. 

Five third prizes belonged to initiatives on improving customer care in Hung Yen, application of supervisory control and data acquisition system to optimise network operation on geographical map, distant body temperature screener, mobile points of sale by coaches, and Autowork automatic management application. 

The entries focus on the fields of education, applied science, environment and socio-culture, some of them have been applied and brought about effective results. 

According to the oganising board, the award ceremony for the fourth programme for the 2021-2022 period will be held in the first quarter of 2022./.

More than 4,500 runners join VnExpress Marathon Hue 2020


Over 4,500 people from across the nation took part in the VnExpress Marathon Hue 2020 in the central province of Thua Thien – Hue’s Hue city on December 27.

They competed on four different races – 5km, 10km, 21km, and 42km, all began and finished at Le Duan street.

A special 1km race for kids at the Nguyen Van Troi park’s Ngo Mon Square was a bonus of the event, attracting 1,000 young runners aged between 6 and 10.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Binh said the marathon aims to promote physical training in the community and widely introduce Thua Thien – Hue’s heritages, landscapes, environment and people.

The races were rounded off with 96 prizes worth nearly 1 billion VND (43,544 USD) awarded to winners. A total of 240 million VND from the proceeds were presented to the online newspaper VnExpress’s Hope Foundation to help improve education conditions of poor children./.

More COVID-19 cases recorded in Southeast Asian countries

Thailand on December 26 reported 110 new cases of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, raising the total number of cases in the country to 6,020, including 4,061 community infections.

Taweesin Visanuyothin, spokesperson of the Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), said his agency had announced plans to prohibit massive gathering and organisation of crowded events for any purposes throughout the country.

The discovery of the new outbreak, which has put the coastal province of Samut Sakhon under a 14-day lockdown, weighed on Thailand's economic recovery and exacerbated the government's efforts to aid the ailing tourism sector.

To contain the spread of the disease, Thailand imposed restriction measures by province according to risk levels and caseloads, with its 77 provinces classified into four categories, namely the highly-controlled, controlled, under-high-surveillance and under-surveillance.

The same day, the Philippines recorded 1,406 new infections, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 469,005.

According to the Philippine Ministry of Health, the country saw five more fatalities due to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, increasing the death toll to 9,067. As many as 431,055 people have recovered from the disease.

Meanwhile, Brunei had no new cases to report on December 26 and the total number of COVID-19 cases in this Southeast Asian country remained at 152, including three deaths./.

First three volunteers receive first shots of 50mcg dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Three first volunteers received the first shot of a dose of 50mcg of Nanocovax COVID-19 vaccine on December 26 morning.

Developed by the Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC and the Vietnam Military Medical University, Nanocovax is Vietnam's first COVID-19 candidate vaccine to reach the human trial stage.

A total of 60 volunteers, aged 18-50, were selected for the first phase of the clinical trials. They are divided into three groups for receiving three doses of 25 mcg, 50 mcg and 75 mcg, respectively. The vaccination consists of two injections 28 days apart.

After the injection, the volunteers have been put under health monitoring at the Hanoi-based Military Medical University for 72 hours. The remaining 17 in the group will get injections of the 50mcg dose if the vaccine’s safety is confirmed.

The first group testing the 25 mcg dose received the first injections on December 17. According to Major General Hoang Van Luong, Deputy Director of the university, after the shots, all the 20 volunteers in the group are in stable condition with no abnormal signs detected.

The first phase is scheduled to end after a month and a half, during which the university will continue to select suitable volunteers for the second, which is scheduled to begin in March 2021.

The participants will be under medical monitoring for six months from the day they were given the first injection.

The Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC has spent 20 billion VND (865,946 USD) buying a health insurance package for the volunteers.

Apart from Nanocovax, Vietnam has several other COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed by Vabiotech, Polyvac, and the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals./.

Russia-ASEAN relations at centre of attention at Moscow roundtable

The prospect of the ASEAN-Russia ties was at centre of attention at a recent round-table conference held by the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC).

Participants noted that the two sides had many important anniversaries in 2020 such as the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Russia and Vietnam and Indonesia, and the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Laos.

They also regretted that many projects, contracts and plans had been changed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the US’s sanction measures or instability in some Southeast Asian countries.

However, cooperation with Vietnam is a bright spot in the Russia-ASEAN ties, particularly when Vietnam played the role as the ASEAN Chair 2020, Russian experts said, pointing to a wide range of online conferences organized during the year, and many cooperation mechanisms set up to fight the pandemic.

In 2021, ASEAN and Russia will mark their 25th anniversary of dialogue partnership, they said, adding the two sides must work more to consolidate their strategic collaboration attained in the past two years.

Regarding the relations between Russia and the Asia-Pacific in general and with its key partners in the region in particular, participants noted that they have faced formidable challenge due to the impacts of COVID-19, global economic slowdown and fierce competition between the US and China.

In the context that the US imposes sanctions on both China and Russia, the two could find a driver for the development of their ties.

Russia also witnessed positive development in the relations with Japan in the past year, participants said. However, it would be impossible for both nations to create breakthrough for negotiation on a peace treaty in 2021.

With India which has suffered a lot from the pandemic, Russia will have to invest more to maintain trade exchange with the nation. According to Russian customs, trade in goods with India in the first nine months of this year fell over 16 percent year-on-year.

Over 340 Vietnamese citizens brought home from Russia


More than 340 Vietnamese citizens in Russia were flown back to Vietnam on a flight of Vietnam Airlines at the arrangement of Vietnamese and Russian agencies on December 24-25.

Passengers on the flight included under-18 children, the elderly, the sick, pregnant women, workers with expired visas or labour contracts, and students who finished their study but without accommodation.

The Vietnamese Embassy in Russia sent staff members to the airport to help the citizens with boarding procedures.

To ensure health for the citizens and prevent the spread of COVID-19, strict security, safety and epidemiological measures were applied during the flight. After landing at Cam Ranh airport in the central province of Khanh Hoa, all crew members and passengers on the flight were given health checks and sent to quarantine in accordance with regulations.

The repatriation of Vietnamese citizens in disadvantaged circumstances abroad will be arranged based on citizens’ wish, the developments of the pandemic and domestic quarantine capacity./.

Doctors at Thống Nhất Hospital perform  endoscopic mitral valve surgery

Doctors at Thống Nhất Hospital in HCM City have performed endoscopic mitral valve surgery on a 57-year-old man from the city’s Phú Nhuận District.

The endoscopic surgery, which was performed for the first time at the hospital, helps reduce pain and recovery time, doctors said at a press meeting on December 24 in the city.

Two days after surgery, the patient was able to walk, and will be discharged from the hospital soon.

The patient was hospitalised with heart failure. He had suffered from mitral regurgitation for five years, and his health condition was becoming worse.

Dr Đỗ Kim Quế, the deputy head of the hospital, said that Chợ Rẫy and Thống Nhất hospitals and the University Medical Centre are the only hospitals in HCM City that can perform endoscopic mitral valve surgery.    

According to the Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands, “minimally invasive mitral valve surgery is becoming the new standard for mitral valve operations and has shown to be safe and effective, with less morbidity compared to conventional sternotomy, despite longer cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) and cross-clamp time.”

Mitral valve surgery through a limited incision requires a different mind-set due to its high complexity and steep learning curve, especially in a fully endoscopic approach.

Thống Nhất Hospital doctors said that patients with mitral regurgitation suffer from heart failure and an enlarged liver. They have difficulties breathing when doing ordinary tasks. When their heart becomes too weak, surgery is needed to increase their survival rate.

Scientists are national assets: PM

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc hailed the role of science and technology intellectuals in the country, and appreciated the contributions made by the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA) to the country’s national construction and defence.

Speaking at the 8th National Congress of VUSTA's term 2020-2025 in Hà Nội, PM Phúc said since its establishment in 1983, the association had affirmed its role as the nucleus to unite and promote the creativity of the contingent of Vietnamese scientific and technological intellectuals in the country and foreign countries. They had made important contributions to promoting the development of national science and technology potential, developing the socio-economy, and maintaining national defence and security.

The VUSTA had played an important part in pushing up research and application of science and technology in production and life, enhancing people’s knowledge and fostering talents, he said. They also actively participated in improving people's lives, protecting the environment, developing communities, and reducing poverty sustainably.

However, he asked the 3.7 million intellectuals of the VUSTA to look at the limitations of the association, as it had not brought into full play the potential of science and technology intellectuals, not meeting the requirements of society and expectations of the Party and the State.

The intellectuals had not actively taken part in solving big problems of the country and localities, Phúc said.

The PM said in the new tenure (2020-2025), VUSTA should be proactive in implementing the State's policies on science and technology; enhance the application of science and technology, creating an important driving force for the development of a modern workforce.

It was necessary to promote the knowledge economy and increase the intellectuals’ responsibility for the country. People who have great contributions to the nation should be honoured, he said.

"The entire Party, the entire army, the entire people are striving to turn our country into a developed country with high income on the occasion of the country's 100th founding anniversary.

"It can be said that the intellectuals along with the power of science and technology play a crucial role in determining success of achieving goals and aspirations for a mighty Việt Nam by 2045,” the PM said.

It required the contingent of scientific and technological intellectuals, especially those under VUSTA, to exert more efforts, contributing to the rapid and sustainable development of the country, Phúc said, adding that scientists and researchers in the associations are precious national assets.

The 8th Congress of VUSTA, entitled “Solidarity – Creation - Renovations - Development”, attracted the participation of nearly 1,000 delegates from organisations under VUSTA. 

South-central region makes efforts to combat illegal fishing

Local authorities of south-central provinces have taken strong and prompt actions to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in an effort to help the local fishery sector remove the formal warning (yellow card) imposed by the European Commission and support farmers to recover from losses.

The EU-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) which took effect from August 1, 2020, has facilitated the export of Vietnamese seafood to the EU market. However, in order to enter this market, Vietnamese fishery products must meet the requirements against IUU fishing. In other words, only when the yellow card is removed, will Vietnamese seafood products be qualified for export to the EU.

According to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Khánh Hòa Province, due to the EU’s yellow card for Vietnamese seafood products, the processing and export output of 44 local businesses has suffered heavy losses.

It is estimated that the provincial seafood export turnover this year fell by nearly 23 per cent due to the yellow card as the EU is a big export seafood market of Việt Nam.

All fishery products exported from Việt Nam to the EU during the warning period must have their exploiting origin traced.

Local authorities of south-central provinces and cities have considered the removal of the yellow card and taking action against IUU fishing as a key mission.

Nguyễn Trọng Tùng, director of Phú Yên Province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said inspection teams had been mobilised frequently to supervise the task of combating IUU fishing at fishing ports. Heads of organisations or groups have to take responsibility for violations.

Fisherman Phạm Đạn living in Ward 6, Tuy Hòa City, Phú Yên Province, said through dissemination sessions, local fishermen were updated on the warning from the EU and forms and levels of sanctions if they violate international waters.

"We only thought about catching as many fish as we could. Now after knowing about the warning and its consequences, we understand that fishing without legal compliance would affect our source of income," he told Nhân Dân (People) newspaper.

Inspectors of the Fisheries Department of Khánh Hòa Province are on duty round the clock to supervise offshore fishing vessels which are equipped with cruise monitoring systems to give them warnings if they encroach foreign waters. As many as 635 out of 759 fishing vessels in the province have installed the cruise monitoring system.

According to the acting director of Bình Định Province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the cruise monitoring system’s installation is a compulsory criterion to make the vessels qualified for offshore fishing. Although the system costs between VNĐ19 million to VNĐ23 million to install, all fishing owners have followed the regulation.

All offshore fishing vessel owners in the province have signed commitments of not violating foreign waters.

In Bình Thuận Province, as many as 1,796 ships with a length of 15m or more have had cruise monitoring equipment installed. That means more than 93 per cent of the total of the province’s ships have cruise monitoring equipment, higher than the national average of 82 per cent.

Huỳnh Quang Huy, head of the provincial Fisheries Department, said: “In the context of difficult conditions without any support for purchasing and installing the cruise monitoring system, most of the fishermen in the province have invested in the installation by themselves, which shows a positive change in their awareness.”

Thanks to the efforts, since July last year, Bình Thuận Province has had no IUU violations reported. More than 2,700 tonnes of seafood with verified origin have been given certificates for export.

The EU recently acknowledged Việt Nam’s efforts in increasing management of fishing density through freezing offshore fishing fleets, saying that Việt Nam had made great efforts to install fishing vessel monitoring systems, provide regulations and implement gear marking fishing vessels based on the EC’s recommendations.

However, some shortcomings were pointed out, such as slow progress of installing cruise monitoring equipment on fishing vessels, restricted surveillance systems, as well as inconsistent sanctioning on violations among localities.

Nguyễn Trung Hiếu, head of Hòn Rớ Port’s management board in Khánh Hòa Province, said fishing vessels which have not installed the cruise monitoring system would not be allowed to go offshore.

The port would not buy seafood exploited by fishing vessels violating EU regulations and would trace origin of the fishery products before issuing the import permission. All of those efforts aimed to maintain Việt Nam as a key seafood exporter of the EU, looking towards a sustainable, responsible and integrating fishery sector, he said.

Farmers earn high profits from organic rice-prawn farming

Farmers who grow organic rice and breed giant river prawn in the same rice field under farm contracts in the Mekong Delta Province of Trà Vinh are getting bumper harvests and high prices.

The farmers grow ST 24 rice variety, which ranked third in the World’s Best Rice Contest in 2017. They have harvested 5.4 tonnes per hectare for this year’s organic rice crop.

Nguyễn Văn Nhanh, chairman of the Long Hòa Commune People’s Committee, said that a co-operative and two companies signed contracts this year with 112 farmers who grow ST 24 rice variety under organic standards on a total area of 95ha. 

Contracted farmers are guaranteed a minimum price for the ST 24 rice variety at VNĐ10,200 (US$0.44) a kilogramme, two times higher than normal rice varieties. Their organic rice sells for VNĐ12,500 a kilogramme. 

According to Nguyễn Văn Huệ, head of the Xẻo Ranh Hamlet organic rice co-operative-group in Long Hòa, the model of growing organic rice and breeding giant river prawns has offered high economic efficiency in the past eight years.

Under the model, farmers harvest an average of 500 kilogrammes of giant river prawns per hectare a crop. 

The profit is about VNĐ150-200 million (US$6,400-8,600) per hectare a year.

The environmentally friendly model produces clean rice and prawn, and is also sustainable compared to other shrimp farming methods like intensive and semi-intensive farming.

Nhanh said the commune this year had sufficient conditions for growing organic rice on a total of 300ha, but could not find companies to sign farm contracts with farmers to guarantee outlets for the whole 300ha.

On rice fields that have conditions to grow organic rice but lack farm contracts, the commune has encouraged farmers to continue the organic rice-giant river prawn model. 

The commune has encouraged farmers to set up rice co-operatives to create favourable conditions for contracts with companies.

Organic rice cultivation is one of the province’s 13 farming models that is being expanded because it is economically, socially and environmentally effective.

In recent years, the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province has organised organic rice-model demonstrations for farmers for learning purposes.

The cost of fertiliser and pesticides for organic rice has also fallen compared to traditional farming methods, while the yield and quality is higher.

The province has hundreds of hectares of organic rice cultivation, mostly in districts Châu Thành, Cầu Ngang, Trà Cú, Tiểu Cần, Càng Long and Cầu Kè.

It plans to expand organic rice cultivation to 2,500ha by 2030.



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