Vietnam records no new COVID-19 cases on February 6 morning

Vietnam reported no new COVID-19 cases in the morning of February 6, keeping the total number of infections in the country at 1,976.

Of the total number, 1,087 are domestically-transmitted cases, including 394 infections since the latest outbreaks hit the northern region on January 27, said the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.

As many as 1,465 COVID-19 patients have given the all-clear to date while the number of deaths related to the disease remained at 35.

The Subcommittee for Treatment reported that among patients undergoing treatment at medical establishments nationwide, 10 tested negative for the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 once, three twice and two thrice.

Up to 80,113 people who had close contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients or entered Vietnam from pandemic-hit areas are being quarantined across the country, including 489 in hospitals, 24,362 in state-designated establishments and the remainders at their residences./.

Viet Duc Hospital transplants heart to youngest-ever patient

Doctors at Hanoi’s Viet Duc Friendship Hospital has successfully conducted a heart transplant on a seven-year-old child, the youngest recipient ever in Vietnam.

Doctors at Hanoi’s Viet Duc Friendship Hospital has successfully conducted a heart transplant on a seven-year-old child, the youngest recipient ever in Vietnam, the hospital said on February 5.

Weighing 16 kg, the patient received the heart from a 19-year-old brain-dead donor.

Following surgery on February 1, the child is now in a stable condition and can eat and drink, according to Dr Nguyen Huu Uoc from the hospital.

This is the fifth heart transplant performed on a child at the hospital.

Viet Duc has now performed five lung, 36 heart, 92 liver, and nearly 1,100 kidney transplants in total.

It is the leading centre nationwide for collecting and transplanting organs. All patients are healthy and have returned to daily living./.

CAAV proposes extending closure of Van Don Airport to curb COVID-19

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) has proposed the Ministry of Transport extend the closure of Van Don International Airport in the northern province of Quang Ninh to better curb the spread of COVID-19.

The airport should be shut down until February 21 instead of midday on February 13, as initially scheduled, the agency said.

The closure is in line with the Prime Minister’s Directive No 05/CT-TTg as well as documents issued by the ministry and the provincial People’s Committee regarding COVID-19 prevention and control, it added.

The CAAV also suggested the ministry allow it to decide the timing of the closure at Van Don given the complex developments of the pandemic while giving time for the airport and medical agencies to disinfect equipment.

On January 28, Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong signed a decision on shutting down the airport from midday on January 29 to midday on February 13, after many locally-transmitted cases of COVID-19 were confirmed./.

All employees at five major airports test negative for SARS-CoV-2

All staff members working at four international airports of Tan Son Nhat, Cam Ranh, Can Tho and Lien Khuong, along with Vinh airport have tested negative for the SARS CoV-2 virus, according to the Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV).

A representative of ACV said on February 4 that amid complicated development of the COVID-19 pandemic, ACV has actively coordinated with the Centres for Disease Control in localities to conduct tests for all employees working at airports.
These results have brought peace of mind to passengers traveling by air at the end of the year.

ACV will continue to coordinate with localities to conduct testing for those working at 16 airports affiliated to ACV such as Noi Bai, Da Nang, Phu Quoc, Cat Bi, Phu Bai, Buon Ma Thuot , Phu Cat, Pleiku, Chu Lai, Tho Xuan, Dong Hoi, Tuy Hoa, Con Dao, Dien Bien, Rach Gia, and Ca Mau.

Affiliated airports of ACV are drastically implementing the COVID-19 prevention work in accordance with the directions of the Prime Minister, the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Transport, and the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV).

At the same time, it has also closely working with airlines, ground service companies and relevant units to strictly implement rules of aviation operation to ensure safety for passengers amid the pandemic./.

First doses of WHO-initiated vaccine programme may reach Vietnam in Q1

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam hosted a reception in Hanoi on February 5 for Chief Representatives of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Children Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Vietnam.

The guests informed the host of COVID-19 vaccine deliveries via the WHO-initiated COVAX programme, affirming that Vietnam is among the countries prioritised during implementation.

They spoke highly of the results of Vietnam’s COVID-19 fight over the past year, especially in the latest outbreaks.

The pandemic has been brought under control in Hanoi, surrounding localities, and across the country, and local people can welcome a safe Lunar New Year, they said.

Thanking the international organisations for helpful information, Dam said they are all actively working with the Ministry of Health to prepare an injection plan, as required by COVAX.

If favourable, the first doses in the COVAX programme will be transported to Vietnam in the first quarter to support the country’s pandemic prevention and control efforts, Dam stressed./.

A quarter of HCMC at risk of being flooded in late 21st century

In the worst-case scenario, 473 square kilometers or nearly a quarter of HCMC will be flooded at the end of the 21st century if sea levels rise 100 centimeters, according to the predictions of an anti-flooding and wastewater treatment plan for the 2020-2030 period, which has been approved by the HCMC government.

Under the plan, HCMC is one of the world's 10 cities most vulnerable to the impact of climate change. If climate change continues, in the late 21st century, the city’s inundated area will be 128 and 204 square kilometers, with sea levels rising 65 and 75 centimeters, respectively, Thanh Nien Online newspaper reported.

According to statistics from the municipal government, as of 2020, the city addressed flooding on 11 of 17 streets, which reported regular flooding due to the rains. In addition, flooding on 14 of 23 streets was temporarily stopped.

In the 2020-2025 period, the city will continue employing solutions to address flooding on the remaining 15 streets.

The city has improved its drainage system. Large projects to revitalize the urban landscape and improve the water environment have proved their effectiveness, such as a project to improve the water environment in the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe and Tan Hoa-Lo Gom canals.

However, the city still has shortcomings, such as asynchronous investment. Some streets do not have water drainage systems, while other areas have wastewater treatment plants but have yet to build wastewater collection and transmission systems.

It is impossible to completely control floods, so HCMC set a target to maintain its achievements and prevent flooding in areas, which were addressed in the 2016-2020 period, and to continue studying flood control strategies that are environmentally friendly and require the least possible capital.

The city will also develop a wastewater drainage system in the eastern area of the city, complete the first phase of the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe wastewater treatment plant, increase the capacity of the Binh Hung wastewater treatment plant and call for investors for the remaining wastewater treatment projects.

In the 2026-2030 period, the city will enhance predictions about flooded areas to take the initiative in responding to climate change, invest in upgrading the drainage system and waterway tourism projects and build wastewater treatment plants in the north, west and south of the city.

Further, the city will build seven regulating reservoirs and execute 70 projects to improve wastewater drainage systems.

According to the HCMC Technical Infrastructure Management Center, the city poured nearly VND26 trillion into anti-flooding projects from 2016 to 2020.

Quan The Am festival in Da Nang listed as national intangible cultural heritage

The Quan The Am (Goddess of Mercy) festival at Ngu Hanh Son (Marble Mountain) in the central city of Da Nang has been recognised as a national intangible cultural heritage, Deputy Director of the municipal Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Thi Hoi An announced on February 4.

The festival is held annually on the 19th day of the second lunar month at Quan The Am Pagoda and other venues at the Ngu Hanh Son national special relic site.

It is one of the largest festivals nationwide and aimed at preserving and promoting ethnic culture and traditional values.

The recognition brings the number of national intangible culture heritages in Da Nang to six, including the stone engraving products of Non Nuoc stone carving village and the Cau Ngu (whale worshipping) festival.

They are popular among many tourists, contributing to the conservation and development of traditional cultural values as well as sustainable tourism./.

Requiem for fallen soldiers held in Long An

A requiem for soldiers was held in the southern province of Long An on February 5 on the occasion of the Tet (Lunar New Year) festival.

The provincial cemetery is the resting place of nearly 4,000 soldiers who laid down their lives for national liberation and defence through different periods of time.

The requiem aims to pay tribute to soldiers who sacrificed their lives for national liberation and defence while praying for favourable weather conditions and peace for the nation in the new year.

It also offers a chance to review the country’s history, honour national heroes and educate young generations about patriotism./.

Tet gifts presented to policy beneficiaries nationwide

Politburo member and President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee Tran Thanh Man visited and presented 50 Tet gifts to outstanding policy beneficiaries in Tan An ward, Ninh Kieu district, the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on February 5.

On behalf of the Party, State and VFF leaders, Man extended New Year wishes to local families.

Congratulating Can Tho city on its achievements in the past year, he asked the municipal Party Committee, authorities and VFF at all levels and socio-political organisations in the locality to carry out more substantial activities to care for poor households and policy beneficiaries to help them have a warm, safe and thrifty Tet.

He also stressed the need to raise public awareness of COVID-19 prevention and control, given complicated developments of the pandemic.

On the same day, Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh presented 200 gifts to policy beneficiaries and poor households in Phong Dien district of the central province of Thua Thien-Hue.

He asked the province to continue implementing the National Target Programme on Sustainable Poverty Reduction and responding to the movement “The whole nation joins hands for the poor – Leaving no one behind”, especially during the lunar New Year holiday.

Also on February 5, the labour confederation of Quang Nam province handed over Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s Tet gifts to local workers facing difficult circumstances. The PM presented 200 gift packages, each including 1 million VND and gift worth 150,000 VND to workers in Nui Thanh district and Tam Ky city, Quang Nam.

The labour federation and fisheries trade union of Nui Thanh district also presented 100 Tet gifts to fishermen in difficult circumstance.

On this occasion, Tet presents were also granted to poor families and policy beneficiaries in Ca Mau and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces and Can Tho city./.

Appraisal council set up for Sapa airport project’s pre-FS

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has decided to establish an appraisal council for the pre-feasibility study (pre-FS) of the Sapa airport project in the northern upland province of Lao Cai, with a total investment of VND5.9 trillion, reported the Dan Tri news site.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment is the standing unit of the council, with its minister serving as the president of the council and its deputy minister as vice president. Other members are leaders of various ministries, the State Bank of Vietnam and the provincial government.

The council has been tasked with appraising the pre-FS and submitting it to the prime minister to consider and approve the investment of the project.

Besides this, it has to make decisions on the appraisal plan and the relevant issues during the appraisal process as well as request the competent agencies to provide it with materials to serve the appraisal.

Earlier, the provincial government had proposed the prime minister consider and approve a master plan for building the Sapa airport under the public-private partnership format and the build-operate-transfer contract.

According to the approved master plan, the Sapa airport will be developed on some 371 hectares of land in the Cam Con Commune of Bao Yen District. Once completed, the project is expected to serve 2.5-3 million passengers per year. It will be used for both civil and military purposes.

Thu Duc City comes into normal operation

Reporting to the Government, Mr. Vo Van Hoan, Vice Chairman of the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, said that, after changing the organizational model, Thu Duc City had operated normally, with all matters related to the people being ensured against congestion and difficulties. 

Speaking from the HCMC end at the regular online meeting of January 2021 of the Government on the morning of February 2, Mr. Vo Van Hoan reported to the Government on the socio-economic situation, activities to ensure a happy Lunar New Year, and the prevention of Covid-19 pandemic in the city.

As for socio-economic development, Mr. Vo Van Hoan assessed that the achieved targets showed that the economy of HCMC managed to maintain growth compared to the same period last year.

Specifically, in January this year, retail sales of goods increased by more than 12 percent, and export turnover surged by 16.4 percent. Exports of high-tech products, in particular, climbed sharply, with exports from the Saigon Hi-Tech Park jumping by more than 28 percent, reaching nearly US$1.5 billion. The index of industrial production in the city soared by 34.5 percent. In the first month of this year, HCMC had more than 3,300 enterprises resumed operation, up 19.5 percent. According to Mr. Vo Van Hoan, only the tourism, accommodation, and catering services saw decreases over the same period.

As for budget revenue, by January 31, the total budget revenue of HCMC was estimated at VND40 trillion, reaching 11 percent compared to the estimate. On average, every working day, the city collects about VND2 trillion, equal to 135 percent of the average receivables.

Mr. Vo Van Hoan informed that HCMC had spent an estimated VND813 billion on activities to taking care of underprivileged people and the people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic on the occasion of Lunar New Year. The city has also prepared a plentiful source of goods to ensure sufficient supply for the market and prevent prices from increasing suddenly.

Regarding the Covid-19 pandemic situation in the city, Mr. Vo Van Hoan said that right after the Covid-19 cases in Hai Duong and Quang Ninh provinces, HCMC had traced and discovered one Covid-19 case, due to close contact with a patient in Hai Duong Province. It continued to trace F1, F2, and F3 cases, organize isolation and testing. Up to now, all F1 cases have given negative results.

Currently, HCMC is isolating 2,862 cases. The Vice Chairman of the municipal People's Committee affirmed that up to now, the city had not recorded any Covid-19 community transmission. It only faces a high risk of Covid-19 cases from outside, and it has been taking many measures to prevent this intrusion.

Regarding the key work in February this year, Mr. Hoan said that HCMC would continue to focus on carrying out measures to prevent Covid-19, organize, and take care of disadvantaged people in the Lunar New Year.

At the same time, the city would continue to synchronously implement the theme of 2021 – ‘Year of building an urban administration and improving the investment environment’; focus on arranging district and commune-level administrative units and establishing Thu Duc City. He said that Thu Duc City had operated normally after changing the organizational model, with all matters related to the people being ensured against congestion and difficulties.

This month, HCMC will also maintain patrol activities and conduct criminal repression to ensure that citizens celebrate the spring festival peacefully.

In related news, Thu Duc City Party Committee has just held a ceremony to grant the decision to establish five assisting agencies, including the Inspection Committee of the City Party Committee, the City Party Commission for Mass Mobilization, the Organization Commission of the Party Committee, the Propaganda and Training Commission of the City Party Committee, and the Office of the City Party Committee.

Thu Duc City’s Party Committee appointed eight deputy chiefs of the Propaganda and Training Commission, seven deputy chiefs of the Organization Commission, eight deputy chiefs of the Commission for Mass Mobilization, and ten deputy chiefs of the Office of the City Party Committee. The duration of each position is five years.

The Inspection Committee of the City Party Committee will grant the decision to its deputy after receiving the decision of the HCMC Party Committee's Inspection Committee.

The appointment is based on keeping the same positions of leaders of the Party Committees, the Party Offices of District 2, District 9, and the former Thu Duc District.

For the above agencies to come into operation soon, Mr. Nguyen Phuoc Hung, Standing Deputy Secretary of the City Party Committee, Chairman of the Thu Duc City People's Council, asked the heads of the City Party committees and the Office of the City Party Committee to quickly stabilize the organizational structure and focus on deploying political duties. Along with that, they should promote setting the working regulations and assignment of tasks clearly, avoiding overlaps, affecting the operational efficiency of the unit.

He also expected that the assisting agencies of the Thu Duc City Party Committee would unite, unify, and coordinate to perform the tasks. In the short term, they should do well the activities of taking care of underprivileged people during Tet holidays, and organize well major holidays in the city.

Violators of Covid-19 regulations not allowed to use telecommunication services

The National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control announced those who returned from Covid-19-hit areas but refuse to declare their health status despite being reminded by local administrators are not allowed to use telecommunications services. 

Severe punishment will be imposed on those who refuse to don facemask when going outside. People are encouraged to apply 5K ( in Vietnamese) including khau trang (facemask)- Khu khuan (disinfection)- Khoang cach ( keeping a proper distance)- Khong tu tap (no large gathering ) – Khai bao y te (declaration of health status) and avoid gathering in large crowd.

When it comes to the coronavirus pandemic in the Central – Highland Province of Gia Lai, Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said that it is quite complicated in Gia Lai where many ethnic minority groups are living; therefore, health workers are bumping into difficulties in tracking contacts; plus, the province’s weak medical system makes the situation worse.

The Ministry has sent its men to the province as well as directed the Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in the Central Highlands region to assist in performing tests. One more lab was set up in Gia Lai by the Ho Chi Minh City-based Pasteur Institute.

Medical workers experienced in tracking from the Central City of Da Nang have arrived in Gia Lai to help the local team. Vice Health Minister Do Xuan Tuyen and experts from Hanoi-based Bach Mai Hospital and HCMC-based Cho Ray Hospital also joined hands in the fight against Covid-19 in Gia Lai.

Vice Health Minister Tran Van Thuan said that all Covid-19 community transmission cases in cities and provinces from January 27 till now linked to Vietnam Poyun Electronics Company in the Northern Province of Hai Duong and Van Don Airport in the Northern Province of Quang Ninh with new Covid-19 variant, which is believed to be 70 percent more contagious than ordinary strains.

It is predicted that the two Covid-19 epicenters Hai Duong and Quang Ninh will be quickly under control in the next time.

Vietnam making good use of technologies to fight Covid-19
As Covid-19 pandemic one more time marks its footprint in Vietnam in the past few days, technology has proved its effectiveness in the fierce combat against this dangerous virus. Many useful kinds of made-in-Vietnam software, hardware, and platforms are widely used so that people can do their work as usual.

At the beginning of 2020, Quang Trung Software City cooperated with IT businesses to develop two systems to check temperature from distance to detect people infected with Covid-19 and to discover individuals without a face mask. These systems are especially helpful when installed at the entrance of high-rise buildings since it can minimize direct contact between people.

At the moment, both systems are integrated into one platform while their precision is greatly improved. They are wholeheartedly welcomed in many organizations and state agencies, under the two forms of either renting or buying.

Another notable application is Bluezone, installed on smart devices to record close contacts among people in a community via Bluetooth. Once there is an F0 in the recorded history, those who happened to have a contact within 2 meters with that F0 will receive a warning and detailed instructions on necessary steps to follow.

It is advisable that as many people installing Bluezone as possible so that the software can exert its full effects.

In the field of education, Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) last year introduced VNPT E-Learning, an application for distance learning with such features as digitalizing teaching materials, creating a digital lesson plan, monitoring and evaluating the learning process of students in a class.

A similar technological product for distance teaching and learning is VioEdu by FPT Group. It uses AI to create over 500 exciting lessons, and is still adding more clips to teach more than 100,000 units in the official textbooks approved by the Ministry of Education and Training. VioEdu is widely used by nearly 8,000 schools nationwide.


One more significant educational platform developed to serve learning needs in the time of Covid-19 is ViettelStudy by Viettel Business Solutions Corp. at the address of .This is the only online learning social network in the Southeast Asian region. It has well selected learning materials which are regularly updated for both teachers and students to access. It now has over 11 million users from 40,000 schools all over the nation.

Singapore plans to partner with Vietnamese celebs to reimagine future of travel

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has partnered with Vietnamese well-known personalities who have enjoyed their previous visits to Singapore to share fond memories while reimagining new destinations and innovative offerings. 

Model, actress Bang Lang makes a phone call with her mother in Vietnam during the COVID pandemic.

For a start, STB has collaborated with Bang Lang who was a Vietnamese model and actress and is now living in Singapore. She has provided a lens of what life is like amidst COVID-19 through a three-part lifestyle video series released between January and March.

This campaign is a new initiative titled “SingapoReimagine” that has just been launched by the STB to reimagine travel for Singapore and the rest of the world, by sparking conversations, stories, and ideas to collectively shape the future of the tourism sector.

STB will bring the SingaporeReimagine to Vietnamese visitors through a series of on-ground activities over the course of the year. 

Additionally, a series of forums called “Reimagine Travel - Global Conversations” will be held in countries around the world to catalyze discussions on how to reshape global travel.

For MICE (Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions), SingapoReimagine will be used as a platform to step up marketing Singapore as a destination known for Safety, Innovation, and Trust. This is to rebuild short to mid-term consideration of Singapore among MICE event planners and business travellers in Vietnam, through digital and social channels, as well as increased business development efforts.

Ms. Sherleen Seah, Area Director of STB in Vietnam, shared that, “Vietnam is an important market to Singapore’s tourism industry, with close to 600,000 Vietnamese tourists visiting our country in 2019 – ranking 11th in total arrivals to Singapore.

While travel has been challenging due to the pandemic, SingapoReimagine is a demonstration of our ongoing efforts to maintain Singapore’s position as top-of-mind destination to Vietnamese leisure and business travelers. We hope that through SingapoReimagine, our Vietnamese audience can experience and enjoy Singapore from afar and reimagine what the future of travel will look like, until international travel is possible again.”

STB Chief Executive Mr Keith Tan said, “COVID-19 is the biggest crisis we have ever faced in travel and tourism. But it also offers us an opportunity to reset and revive our industries in ways that we never imagined was possible a year ago. The journey to reimagine travel has already started in Singapore, and we want to continue this journey with those whose voices matter – our community in Singapore, and our partners here and around the world. We look forward to co-creating ideas and strategies with all of them, to make travel better.”

Hanoi: 1,576 precious ordinations are recognized as city’s treasures

These religious ordinations found in Hanoi are recognized as precious and rare treasures that need to be preserved.

A ceremony in recognition of 1,576 precious and rare ordinations was held by Hanoi Department of Home Affairs on January 26. 

These 1,576 documents were collected at 163 worshiping establishments and lineages in nine districts, communes and towns of Ha Noi including Ba Dinh, Thanh Xuan, Chuong My, Thach That, Bac Tu Liem, Ha Dong, Quoc Oai, Ba Vi and Son Tay.

According to Ms. Nguyen Thi Lieu, Deputy director of the Hanoi Department of Home Affairs, the recognition of these ordinations as 'precious and rare archives' is intended to facilitate the management and protection of these heritage by the city. Preservation awareness of worshiping establishments and lineages who possess the ordinations will be enhanced, according to Lieu.

Previously, in 2018 and 2019, the Hanoi Department of Home Affairs recognized a total of 2,365 ordinations from 195 worshiping establishments as ‘precious and rare archives’ of the city in four phases. (In the 1st phase, 211 ordinations were recognized, 766 ordinations in the second phase, 554 in the third phase, and 834 in the fourth).

Hanoi takes actions to develop Vietnamese culture

The city will improve the efficiency of the state management, building a healthy cultural environment and stimulating the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage values.

Hanoi is taking actions to implement effectively the Resolution adopted at the 9th session of the 11th Party Central Committee on the building and development of the Vietnamese culture and people to meet the country’s sustainable development requirements.

Hanoi had organized many meaningful cultural events duiring the last year. Photo: Pham Hung
Hanoi People's Committee will enhance the leadership of the Party; promote and raise awareness on the role of culture in the country’s construction and defense; disseminates the cultural construction and development based on the inherited traditions and cultural values to meet requirements in the current context of the city and other localities, agencies or units; and focus on the specificity of culture, ensuring the Party's political and ideological orientations and encouraging the creativity of individuals.

The committee will also implement tasks and solutions to improve the efficiency of the state management; build a healthy cultural environment; develop culture in politics and economy and stimulate the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage values in the economic development, especially sustainable tourism to contribute promoting the image of the country and people of the capital in particular and the country in general.

Thereby, programs to restore and preserve a number of traditional arts that are in danger of extinction as well as preserving and promoting cultural heritages of ethnic minorities, religion and beliefs will be implemented.

At the same time, the plan encourages and facilitates the artists’ creation of works with ideological and artistic value, the activities of literary and art associations, and the spread of popular arts and literature to the public, as well as invests more in theoretical research, literary criticism, and art.

The city will focus on developing the cultural industry along with building and completing the cultural market to actively integrate into the international culture and learn the cultural essence of humanity.

The committee aims to effectively implement the resolution to make a profound and comprehensive change for the culture development of the city in particular and the country in general.

New COVID-19 cases rocket in Southeast Asia

Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia continued to report large increases in the numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths on February 5.

Thailand confirmed 586 new COVID-19 cases, with 573 domestic infections, according to the Centre for the COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

Some 526 of the domestic infections were detected via active testing among Myanmar migrants and Thai nationals, mostly at factories and communities in Samut Sakhon.

In the capital city of Bangkok, dozens of cases have referred to groups of people closely mingling with one another at fun-filled parties with alcoholic beverages served at houses and other private venues, including the one where all 16 party-goers were infected.

Thailand has so far confirmed 22,644 cases, with 15,331 patients having fully recovered and been released from hospitals while 7,234 others currently hospitalised. The total death toll remained at 79.

The Department of Health of the Philippines reported 1,894 new COVID-19 cases on February 5, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 533,587.

The Philippines has tested over 7.4 million people since the disease emerged in January last year.

The Philippines will ease coronavirus travel rules for foreigners who wish to enter the country this month.

Starting February 16, the Philippines will allow foreigners with visas issued as of March 20, 2020, and still valid at the time to enter the country.

Foreign nationals must also have pre-booked accommodation for at least six nights in an accredited quarantine hotel or facility and subject to COVID-19 swab test on the sixth day from date of arrival while on quarantine.

The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 11,749 within one day to 1,134,854, with the death toll adding by 201 to 31,202, the Health Ministry said on the day.

The pandmeic has spread to all the country's 34 provinces. Specifically, within the past 24 hours, Jakarta recorded 3,340 new cases./.

UNDP campaign helps build flood-resilient houses in central Vietnam

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Dan Tri newspaper, and the Vietnam Fund for Promoting Education on February 5 officially launched a crowdfunding campaign entitled “Safe Houses Save Lives” with the aim of building 100 new storm- and flood-resilient houses for poor and near-poor families in the coastal province of Quang Binh.

The two-year campaign is part of a broader UNDP effort to support government response and recovery work in central Vietnam. In the first phase from now to April 2021, the campaign is focused on helping vulnerable families living in Quang Binh province.

In her opening remarks, Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam, stressed the importance of ensuring that society’s most vulnerable are not left behind as the central region recovers from the impacts of floods and storms.

“We believe that the more resilient houses are built, the less people will suffer from loss and damages when storms and floods strike, and the more quickly they will be able to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.”

Critically, with safe homes and protected property, the less people will need emergency support in the future. It is estimated that 100,000 resilient houses are needed to meet the demand of vulnerable households in typhoon-prone coastal areas. “With joined up action, we believe the goal can be achieved. We invite all partners to join with us to build more storm-resilient houses to ensure that no one is left behind,” said Wiesen.

At the event, Pham Huy Hoan, Director of the Vietnam Fund for Promoting Education, said, “I believe that this cooperation will bring about positive results, so that the domestic and foreign communities join hands to help Vietnamese people reduce the damage caused by natural disasters and help them stabilize their lives."

So far, more than 3,400 low cost ‘resilient houses’ have already been built by a joint Green Climate Fund (GCF)-UNDP-Government of Vietnam project since 2018 including more than 700 in Quang Binh.

The resilient houses have been specifically engineered to include special features such as flood-proof floor that is 1.5m above the highest flood level to provide a safe refuge from rising floodwaters and strongly reinforced roofs that can withstand typhoon-strength winds. They proved their effectiveness during the severe floods and storms of 2020, when they saved the lives and livelihoods of not only their owners, but in some cases other members of the community as well. Their success garnered attention from the media, and they have since been specifically highlighted by the government as a model for wider replication.

During the launching event, the Republic of Korea's non-governmental organisation World Share committed a financial donation to UNDP to build 39 homes in Quang Binh province as the first contribution towards the campaign. Dan Tri newspaper also committed a donation of 1 billion VND (43,500 USD) at this event.

All information about the crowdfunding campaign, the beneficiaries, and how to donate is being updated regularly at and via the Dan Tri e-newspaper./.

Prime Minister’s Tet gifts granted to outstanding OVs

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dang Minh Khoi, who is also Chairman of the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese (OV) Affairs, presented Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s Tet gifts and greeting letters to 11 outstanding overseas Vietnamese within the framework of the “Homeland Spring” programme on February 5.

In his Lunar New Year greeting letter, the Government leader stressed that as the COVID-19 pandemic has been seriously affecting the whole world, Vietnam remains a safe destination for all Vietnamese people living and working abroad.

PM Phuc welcomed OVs returning home to welcome the Lunar New Year – the biggest traditional festival in a year of Vietnamese people.

He wished all of them a new year of good health, happiness and success.

Homeland Spring is an annual programme held for overseas Vietnamese to celebrate the traditional Lunar New Year (Tet) since 2008. This year, due to the pandemic, the programme featured only one show without the attendance of audiences on February 4 night./.

Mass mobilisation head receives religious dignitaries

Truong Thi Mai, head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Mass Mobilisation, received delegations of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS) and the Committee for Solidarity of Vietnamese Catholics on February 5.

Talking to the VBS delegation led by Most Venerable Thich Thanh Nhieu, Standing Vice Chairman of the VBS Executive Council, Mai praised the VBS for its positive and effective contributions to the country’s development in recent years and especially in the fight against COVID-19.

She expressed a hope that the VBS would continue to urge monks, nuns, and Buddhist followers to strictly comply with disease prevention measures in line with regulations from the health sector and local authorities, and call on them to abide by legal regulations related to religious activities.

Mai also took the occasion to wish them a happy Tet holiday.

Most Venerable Thich Thanh Nhieu said the VBS has performed it tasks well and actively joined in COVID-19 prevention efforts, and effectively coordinated with chapters in localities nationwide in supporting flood victims in the central and Central Highlands regions and those whose production was affected by the extreme cold weather in the north.

Expressing his joy at the success of the 13th National Party Congress, Most Venerable Thich Thanh Nhieu emphasised that Buddhist dignitaries and followers always believe in the leadership of the Party, headed by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.

He suggested the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Mass Mobilisation promote its position and role in coordinating and supporting the VBS in organising its major events in 2021, such as the 40th anniversary of the VBS and congresses of the VBS at the district, town, and city levels in the 2021-2026 tenure.

At her meeting with Chairman of the Committee for Solidarity of Vietnamese Catholics Tran Xuan Manh, Mai acknowledged the great contributions made by Catholics as well as the Committee in recent years in terms of politics, economy - society, security - defence, and foreign affairs.

Mai stressed the need for the cooperation and joint effort of the entire political system, including the Committee for Solidarity of Vietnamese Catholics, in order to realise the goals set in the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress.

She urged the Committee to continue its close coordination with the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Mass Mobilisation in particular and other agencies in completing the dual goals of COVID-19 prevention and economic recovery.

For his part, Manh thanked the Commission for Mass Mobilisation for supporting the committee in performing its tasks.

He affirmed that the committee will continue to encourage Catholics to follow the Pope’s teaching to be good citizens, and join hands with the Party, State, and Government in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic./.

Health Ministry receives 21 billion VND in donation to vaccine purchase fund

The Health Ministry received 21 billion VND (over 912,400 USD) donated by enterprises to the ministry’s fund for purchasing COVID-19 vaccine at a ceremony in Hanoi on February 5.

The donors were the Thaiholdings JSC and the Lien Viet PostBank.

At the ceremony, Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long hailed the enterprises for their donation, stressing that buying vaccine is one of the top priority tasks of the health sector so that people’s life and other activities can return to normal.

The Party and State recognize the efforts and contributions of all organisations and individuals in the fight against the pandemic.

The minister informed that Vietnam has signed a contract with the AstraZeneca of the UK to buy COVID-19 vaccine, and the first batch is expected to arrive in the country late February or early March. By June there will be around 30 million doses of the vaccine to carry out vaccination.

The Health Ministry is still continuing to hold talks with other partners to buy more vaccine, he said, adding that it is also pushing the research and production of domestic vaccine, with positive progress./.

Vietnam boosts solidarity activities with Cuba

The Vietnam-Cuba Friendship Association (VCFA) under the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations (VUFO) held a conference in Hanoi on February 4 reviewing its 2020 work and outlining activities for 2021.

Addressing the gathering, Politburo member, head of the Party Central Committee’s Mass Mobilisation Commission and VCFA Chairwoman Truong Thi Mai said the VCFA will conduct practical activities to foster bilateral ties, in particular working more closely with the Cuban Embassy in Hanoi, research institutes and businesses having close ties with Cuba, and trying to engage the younger generations in those activities.

She suggested holding workshops to popularise the results of the 13th National Party Congress and provide additional information relating to the upcoming eighth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, thereby raising mutual understanding between the two peoples.

Mai also proposed the VUFO work with relevant units to identify measures to improve people-to-people diplomacy in realising the country’s external policy.

Participants agreed with the need to set up VCFA chapters in Quang Binh and other localities of potential, as well as to partner with the Defence Ministry to hold a gathering marking the 60th anniversary of Cuba’s Hiron victory (April 19) this year.

The VCFA held a series of activities last year marking the 60th anniversary of Vietnam - Cuba diplomatic ties and raised over 1.5 billion VND (65,000 USD) in support of Cuban people in need. It now has 14 chapters at central and local levels.

On the occasion, VUFO President Nguyen Phuong Nga presented a certificate of merit to the VCFA in honour of its outstanding achievements in 2020.

Vietnam attends ADSOM+ WG via video conference

A Vietnamese delegation led by Lieut. Gen Vu Chien Thang, Director of the Defence Ministry’s Foreign Relations Department, attended the ASEAN Defence Senior Officials’ Meeting Plus Working Group (ADSOM WG) via video conference on February 4.

The meeting was chaired by Deputy Permanent Secretary of Policy and Strategy at the Brunei Defence Ministry Haji Adi Ihram Bin Dato Paduka Haji Mahmud.

Attending the event were heads of ADSOM WG of ASEAN member states and partner countries of Russia, China, the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.

Thang, who is also head of the ADSOM WG Vietnam, informed participants about multilateral defence-military external activities to be hosted by the Vietnamese Defence Ministry this year, including a conference of the ASEAN Network of Peacekeeping Centres, activities of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Plus Experts’ Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations for 2021-2023 co-chaired by Vietnam and Japan, an international conference on women with the UN peacekeeping activities, the fourth border exchange programme and an international defence expo.

Speaking at the event, Haji Mahmud, who is also head of the ADSOM WG Brunei, stressed that during Vietnam ASEAN Chairmanship Year 2020, defence cooperation within ADMM Plus framework had reflected the spirit of “cohesive and responsive”, which he hoped, will further thrive during Brunei ASEAN Chairmanship Year 2021.

He also wished that the meeting would contribute to raising mutual understanding and practical defence collaboration between ASEAN and partner countries within the ADMM Plus.

Topics tabled for discussion at the meeting included a draft joint statement of the ADMM , the progress of ADMM working groups’ action plans adopted at the ADSOM last November, and preparations for the ADSOM and ADMM to be hosted by Brunei this year./.

Special spring concert held for overseas Vietnamese people

The Xuan Que Huong “Homeland's Spring 2021", an annual special programme exclusively held for overseas Vietnamese people, was held in a virtual format and broadcast live on the national television (VTV1 and VTV4 channels) on February 4.

Addressing the event, Deputy Minister Dang Minh Khoi, Chairman of the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese, the show is not only an occasion to bring Vietnamese expats all over the world closer to their shared root but also an opportunity for all Vietnamese people to show determination to take the country to the new era of development and prosperity.

In a remark delivered virtually, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc conveyed his best wishes to Vietnamese people living and working abroad.

Briefing about the country’s remarkable achievements over the last year despite adverse impacts of the COVID-19, he said Vietnam would not have achieved such success without the contributions of 5.3 million overseas Vietnamese.

The State and Party always appreciate their contributions in all areas, from investment, trade, to technology transfer, as well as their donations to aid the national response to the pandemic and natural disasters, he said.

The Government leader voiced his hope that all Vietnamese, both at home and overseas, will make concerted efforts to fulfill socio-economic goals for the next five years and beyond.

The concert, which took place at the iconic Hanoi Opera House in Hanoi, was hosted by the Foreign Ministry’s State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs for Vietnamese people living abroad, many of whom are not able to come back to Vietnam for the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday this year due to travel restrictions induced by COVID-19.

It featured various music performances by popular Vietnamese artists both at home and overseas depicting the love for the nation and recreating a warm and cheery atmosphere of the spring.

Aired live on the channels VTV1 and VTV4 and digital platform VTVgo, the concert had no live audience as the country has been put on high alert following fresh COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Xuan Que Huong programme has been organised regularly since 2008, and has become a much anticipated event attracting a large number of overseas Vietnamese from all corners around the globe./.



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