PM gives Tet present Vietnam football head coach

Coach Park Hang-seo

The head coach of the Vietnamese national football team, Park Hang-seo has just received a present from PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc for the Lunar New Year Festival. 

The head coach of the Vietnamese national football team, Park Hang-seo has just received a present from PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc for the Lunar New Year Festival.

Coach Park Hang-seo said that he would come back to work soon and try to work hard to improve the national team’s results.

Coach Park Hang-seo arrived in Hanoi on February 3 after a holiday in his home country of South Korea. He was now on a 21-day quarantine period for Covid-19 prevention following regulations from the Vietnamese government.

Under the leadership of coach Park Hang-seo, the Vietnamese national football team finished as runners-up at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U23 Championship, champions of the AFF Cup 2018, qualified in semi-finals of the 18th Asian Games and made the 2019 Asian Cup quarter-finals.

PM calls for strong local COVID-19 response

Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong, and other major cities where COVID-19 cases have been confirmed should take strong measures to effectively prevent the spread of the pandemic within the community, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said on February 8.

Such measures include social distancing in line with the PM’s Directives No 15 and 16 in case of a worsening situation, the PM said at an online meeting of permanent Cabinet members.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) pointed out the high risk of the pandemic spreading as there remain sources of infections yet to be detected in major cities, especially in baggage and cargo handling services at HCM City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

It reported that all 7,300 employees at the airport have been tested and five of them were positive for the coronavirus. Twenty-four related cases were also found later.

The pandemic has been basically contained in the northern provinces of Quang Ninh and Hai Duong, where the first cases in the latest outbreak were recorded, and most other cities and provinces, the ministry said.

Phuc asked HCM City and the ministry to play a more active role in the fight and encourage people to follow COVID-19 prevention and control measures, including wearing facemasks and avoiding mass gatherings.

Travel during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday should be limited, he said, urging localities to prepare resources, including medical supplies, food, and COVID-19 hospitals in case the situation worsens.

Hai Duong, Quang Ninh, Gia Lai, and Hai Phong will continue with proposed plans, while Hanoi and HCM City need to identify their own way forward in this regard, according to the leader.

Social distancing should be imposed when necessary, he said, ordering stronger alertness among medical and political systems and the public, as well as an active role from the media in the fight.

The PM agreed with the ministry’s proposal to buy COVID-19 vaccine produced by the AstraZeneca Group and begin injections in the first quarter.

The MoH and its minister are responsible for selecting partners, vaccines, and those to be vaccinated, with funding coming from the State, he said.

He also asked relevant forces, most notably the police, army, and market management forces, to step up measures to ensure security and order.

Short cold spell causes rains in northern, north-central regions

The northern and north central regions are forecast to experience moderate to heavy rains on February 9 due to the influence of a fresh cold spell combined with the turbulence of high east winds.

The short-lived cold spell, coupled with high wind turbulence, is predicted to bring total precipitation of 30 – 70mm, even over 80mm in certain locations, within 12 hours, according to the National Centre for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting. Whirlwinds, lightning and hails are also expected.

It also caused temperatures to plummet to 9 – 12 degrees Celsius in the north and 12 – 15 degrees Celsius in the north central region while higher mountainous areas are likely to see sleet.

In Hanoi, the temperature is forecast to drop to 12 – 15 degrees Celsius at the lowest and 15 – 18 degree Celsius at the highest./.

Bình Dương Province bans entry of foreign employees amid pandemic

The southern province of Bình Dương has prohibited foreign experts from entering as it seeks to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The People’s Committee made the announcement on Friday (Feb 5).

Since last September, 1,720 foreign experts have come to the province, mostly through HCM City but also through the Mộc Bài and Tây Ninh land borders, according to the People’s Committee.

Two people have tested positive for COVID-19 and placed under quarantine on arrival in Việt Nam.

The Pasteur Institute in HCM City on Saturday (Feb 6) confirmed a new case in Bình Dương, taking its total number so far to six, according to the province Department of Health.

The 26-year-old patient, who lives in Ehome 4 apartments in Thuận An Town, was sent to the Củ Chi Field Hospital in HCM City for treatment.

The apartment and its thousands of residents were placed under lockdown on Saturday.

Nguyễn Thanh Tâm, chairman of the Thuận An Town People’s Committee, held a meeting with local authorities and public health officials on Saturday to speed up implementation of measures to contain the spread of the virus.

Nguyễn Hoàng Thao, chairman of the province People’s Committee, on the same day carried out inspections of quarantine areas around the province. 

Quang Ninh successfully controls COVID-19 pandemic in one week

The northern province of Quang Ninh announced on February 8 that it was able to control the COVID-19 pandemic just in one week after it detected the first locally-transmitted infection on January 27, according to the provincial steering board for COVID-19 prevention and control.

To date, the province has logged 50 SARS-CoV-2 infections in Van Don, Cam Pha, Ha Long and Dong Trieu township which is adjacent to the country’s largest hotspot of Chi Linh city in Hai Duong province.

Right after Chi Linh city reported the first COVID-19 infections, Quang Ninh province activated prevention and control measures with a view to containing the virus spread. In the past week, the province conducted mass testing, zoned off infected areas and quarantined people with a high risk of infection, helping reduce economic losses as well as stabilise the lives of local residents.

It was the first locality to carry out mass testing for COVID-19 so as not to leave out any F1 cases and miss travel history of F0 cases.

As of February 8, the province traced 109,000 people who had close contact with the confirmed cases, and carried out testing for 53,869 samples and at the same time, conducted mass testing for 40,891 samples in the community.

Particularly, the province has completed a map of safe zones to raise public awareness of safe and timely travel, as well as inform locals with travel history of confirmed cases, quarantine sites and medical facilities.
According to Director of the provincial Department of Information and Communications Le Ngoc Han, electronic medical declarations will be carried out from February 9 on the website Besides, locals can use QR code to check information and link to the Ministry of Health’s data.

To look up the COVID-19 situation within the locality, residents can access to and

In the coming time, Quang Ninh province will ease social distancing measures, while calling on officials and workers in the province not to leave the locality for the Tet holiday to reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 spread, contributing to the safety of the whole community./.

Cà Mau expands shrimp output using environmentally friendly methods

The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Cà Mau plans to maintain its shrimp farming area at 280,000ha between 2021 and 2025, with an increased output.

The province, which is the country’s largest shrimp producer, aims to produce about 225,000 tonnes of shrimp this year, up 15,000 tonnes against last year, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Châu Công Bằng, deputy director of the department, said that intensive and super-intensive farming methods as well as advanced farming techniques would be used to increase yield and profit for farmers.

To develop sustainability, the province’s agencies have instructed farmers in environmentally friendly techniques.

Many shrimp farmers using super-intensive farming methods have built ponds to filter and treat waste water before releasing it into the environment.

Local agencies have stepped up inspections of shrimp breeding in unzoned areas and the treatment of waste water, and have strictly penalised violations.

Last year, the province had 2,800ha of super-intensive shrimp farming areas, up 12 per cent against 2019. The farming areas had a success rate of 85 per cent and a yield of 40-50 tonnes per hectare a crop.

The province plans to develop super-intensive shrimp farming areas to 3,200ha this year. Most of these areas are located in Đầm Dơi, Cái Nước and Phú Tân districts and Cà Mau City.

With its three sides bordering the sea and its many mangrove forests, the province has advantages for shrimp-forest farming, shrimp-rice farming, extensive farming, intensive farming and super intensive farming.

The province has 280,000ha of shrimp, accounting for 40 per cent of the country’s total shrimp area.

Many shrimp breeding areas have been granted international standard certificates such as global good agricultural practices (GlobalGAP), Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) and Global Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC).

The province has 30 companies processing shrimp for export. The companies have a total processing capacity of more than 250,000 tonnes of shrimp a year.

Environmentally-friendly shrimp farming models like shrimp-forest and shrimp-rice farming models produce biological shrimp as shrimp eat natural food and shrimp breeders do not use chemicals.

Under the shrimp-forest model, shrimp are bred in mangrove forests. Under the shrimp-rice model, farmers grow rice in the rainy season and breed shrimp in the dry season on the same fields, or intercrop shrimp breeding and rice cultivation at the same time on the same fields.

The province has nearly 34,000ha of shrimp-forest farming, and more than 20,000ha of that figure are certified as biological shrimp.

The department plans to increase the area for certified biological shrimp to the rest of the shrimp-forest farming area this year.

Bằng, deputy director of the department, said biological shrimp is one of the province’s key products under its agriculture restructuring plan.

The co-operation between farmers and companies has increased shrimp value, he said.

The breeding of biological shrimp has increased farmers' income, and shrimp companies now have clean and high-quality shrimp for export.

“The environmental protection activities have helped to confirm the role of biological shrimp,” he said.

The province has dozens of thousands of hectares of rice - shrimp fields which are also sources for producing biological shrimp.   

In Thới Bình District, which has the largest area of giant river prawn bred under the shrimp-rice model in the province, many farmers are breeding shrimp and growing rice on the same rice fields at the same time.

Phạm Văn Khải, who cultivates giant river prawn and rice on a 1.3ha field in Thới Bình’s Bạch Đông Commune, said giant river prawns are intercropped in organic rice fields that grow high-quality ST speciality rice varieties without pesticides or other chemicals and only a small amount of organic fertiliser.

“Giant river prawns eat natural food in rice fields, so the prawn has a specific flavour and firm meat,” he said.

When saltwater intrusion occurs early and rice dies because of saline water, his family plants bulrush to replace dead rice, which provides a habitat for giant river prawns.

Bulrush is grown for the inner portion of its lower stalk which is used in many dishes like fresh salads, pickles and hotpots. 

Farmers in the district had harvested about 30 per cent of the giant river prawn area as of mid January, according to the district’s Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Giant river prawns are purchased at fields for VNĐ110,000-130,000 (US$4.7-5.6) a kilogramme.

Nguyễn Hoàng Lâm, head of the bureau, said after deducting all production costs, farmers can earn a profit of VNĐ20 million ($870) per hectare a prawn crop. 

Plastic waste photo contest launched online

Artworks made from plastic waste in Hanoi's Phuc Tan Commune.

Vietnamese and foreign photographers will be able to enter their photos on environmental protection in a contest launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Tap chi Nghe Nghiep va Cuoc Song (Career & Life) magazine.

The photo contest, entitled Cau Chuyen Rac Nhua (Story of Plastic Waste), aims to increase community awareness about environmental protection.

“Currently, Vietnam is one of the top five countries in the world discharging the most plastic waste into the ocean,” said Chu Thi Ha, Editor-in-chief of the Career & Life magazine.

“We hope that this photo contest will contribute to raising awareness of the management of plastic waste and somewhat limiting the amount of plastic waste discharged to the environment.”

The submitted photos must be taken from January 1 to April 30 in the coastal provinces of Vietnam. Entrants are not allowed to use Photoshop to change the content and nature of their pictures.

The contest organisation board encourages photos from the southern provinces of Binh Duong and Binh Thuan, the central province of Binh Dinh and central Da Nang city and the northern province of Quang Ninh.

The photos should focus on the spread of waste, which is not properly disposed of in Vietnam; plastic waste in the ocean; the impact of plastic waste on the environment and ecosystem and to people, and waste treatment.

Contestants can register at until May 5.

The organisation board is calling on both Vietnamese and foreigners living in Vietnam above 18 years old who are concerned about plastic waste to participate in the contest. Each of them can send 20 photos.

Top prizes will be announced in the magazine and Facebook Ocean or Plastic at the end of June. The top prizes will be awarded cash worth 1 million VND to 5 million VND (43 to 220 USD).

Although there are no official statistics on the amount and varieties of plastic in the Vietnamese sea and islands, plastic waste is easy to see in Vietnamese waters, with the country’s 112 estuaries the main gateways of plastic to the ocean.

Numbers from Vietnam’s Association of Plastic illustrate the scale of the problem. In 1990, each Vietnamese consumed 3.8kg of plastic per year, but 25 years later, the figure hit 41kg.

As many as 1,000 plastic bags are used each minute but only 27 percent of them are treated and recycled.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment estimated that about 80 tonnes of plastic waste and bags are thrown away every day in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City combined.

On the positive side, Vietnam has taken efforts to manage imported plastic scrap and monitor plastic production and consumption./.

VNAT’s short film promotes Vietnam’s natural beauty

A video clip titled “Dat nuoc, con nguoi Viet Nam" (Vietnam – The Country and People) developed by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) and published on its Youtube channel attracted over 1 million views after one month of launch.

The 70-second clip offers a chance to viewers to admire stunning and unique terraced rice fields which make the Northwest region’s more attractive to visitors.

It also overwhelms viewers with the magnificent scenery and rich natural ecosystems in Son Doong - the world's largest cave - in central Quang Binh province, and provides them with fresh air in the Mekong Delta region as well as the hospitality of local people.

The vivid and emotional short film, which is one of the 70 clips launched on Youtube by the VNAT, has contributed to promoting the natural beauty of Vietnam as well as the hospitality of Vietnamese people to visitors./.

Famous comic artists celebrate Lunar New Year

A special TV show featuring famous comic artists Trung Dân, Quốc Thảo and Lê Giang will air on HCM City Television (HTV) to celebrate Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday, which falls on February 12 this year.   

The show, called Tự Trào Xuân (Satirical Show for Spring Festival), features a series of one and two-act plays portraying social issues in the country in 2020. 

The pandemic, quarantines, and working and studying from home will be highlighted. 

Southern farmers and their traditional culture and lifestyle during the holiday will also be included. 

Dân, Thảo and Giang, who have more than 25 years of experience in the industry, will demonstrate their talents in comedy, singing and dance. 

They will perform together in a comedy featuring the story of Ông Công- Ông Táo (Kitchen Gods) who, as tradition, flies up to Heaven on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month to report to Ngọc Hoàng (the Ruler of Heaven) every happening on the Earth throughout the year. 

According to Vietnamese legend, families burn vàng mã (votive paper) of clothes, hats and boots to ride Ông Công-Ông Táo to Heaven to report on the household’s activities to God.

On the show, dozens of singers and dancers will perform folk songs and dances in praise of country, soldiers, love and Spring.

American singer Kyo York and young pop idols will perform dance and electronic music. Songs about Tết, youth and love will be featured. 

Kyo York, 35, came to Việt Nam in late 2009. He offered English training to young people in the southern province of Hậu Giang. Later, he moved to HCM City and developed his music career.  

Young singer Jay L of HCM City, said: “We hope our performance in Tự Trào Xuân sends best wishes for Tết to people across the country." 

Featured performances include folk dances staged by artists in áo dài (Vietnamese traditional dress) from the HCM City-based dance troupe Việt Hải. 

The show, Tự Trào Xuân, will air at 8.30pm on the HTV9 channel on the last day of lunar calendar, February 11.

Nearly 811 tonnes of rice offered to needy families in Dak Lak

Close to 811 tonnes of rice supplied by the Government have been distributed to impoverished residents in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak ahead of the Tet (Lunar New Year) festival.

The assistance was presented to about 15,800 families with 54,065 members across 12 districts of the province.

Director of the Dak Lak Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Tran Phu Hung said the aid has helped ease difficulties for local people amid the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters.

The distribution was carried out in a prompt manner with preventive measures being in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19./.

Vietnam supports health workers amid Covid-19 outbreak   

The Hanoitimes - In the fight against Covid-19, Vietnam has made efforts to keep its frontline workers safe to save human resources for the fierce battle.


Vietnam continues offering subsidy to health workers who get infected by Covid-19, the third time since the pandemic detected in the country in early 2020.

The Ministry of Health will offer a stipend worth VND10 million (US$434) to people who are tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus and VND100 million for those die of the virus.

The allotment will last from January 1 until June 30, 2021.

Beneficiaries include doctors, nurses, midwives, technicians, pharmacists, pharmacy staff, administrators, ambulance drivers, security guards, service staff, and volunteers working at hospital/ medical facilities/ testing facilities/ field hospitals that test, diagnose, and treat Covid-19.

So far, more than 40 health workers benefit the allotment.

At present, local Covid-19 transmission has been recorded in 12 cities and provinces, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. New daily cases have been reported, prompting tough actions by the local authorities as Tet, the country’s biggest holiday will come in less than a week.

In the fight against Covid-19, Vietnam has been aware of keeping frontline workers safe to save human resources for the unprecedented battle.

In the outbreak in Bach Mai Hospital, the country’s largest clinic institute, in March 2020, some doctors and nurses were confirmed positive for the virus and thousands of others quarantined, worrying the government about the shortage of health workers.

The number of doctors per 10,000 inhabitants in Vietnam was 8.6 in 2018, according to Germany-based market research company Statista.

As showed in the “Health care quality in Southeast Asia: Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Indonesia” research by Aetna International, one of the industry's largest and most prominent international health insurance providers, in comparison with regional countries, Vietnam has a little over 1 doctor per 1,000 people, compared to nearly 2 in Singapore, 0.4 in Thailand, 1 in Malaysia, 1.4 in Brunei, and 1 per 5,000 people in Indonesia.

In terms of expenditure, Vietnam spends 7.1% of its GDP on public health care, compared to 2.75% in Singapore, 6.5% in Thailand, 4.2% in Malaysia, and 2.9% in Indonesia.

Hanoi suspends activities on pedestrian space around Hoan Kiem Lake

This is the third time Hanoi’s pedestrian space has to be suspended since the Covid-19 pandemic started to hit the capital city in early March 2020.

The People's Committee of Hoan Kiem district has decided to suspend all activities on the pedestrian streets around Hoan Kiem Lake from this weekend in order to avoid crowded gatherings in strict compliance with the city’s measures on Covid-19 prevention.

The move is made in line with the Hanoi authorities’ regulations on Covid-19 prevention and control, according to Vice Chairman of the district People's Committee Dinh Hong Phong.

The pedestrian streets include those around Hoan Kiem Lake, its neighboring streets in the Old Quarter, such as Hang Dao, Hang Giay and Dong Xuan Night Market. These streets often attract a large number of people which poses high risks for Covid-19 spreading without appropriate preventive measures.

“If the walking streets continues to be operating, people from different places would flock here, which is difficult for curbing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic," Mr. Phong said.

The weekend walking space around Hoan Kiem Lake and surrounding areas in downtown Hanoi has become a brand name, a cultural venue, and a highlight of the capital city, luring thousands of visitors during daytime and at nights in the pre-pandemic period.

It also contributes to creating a new lifestyle for Hanoi’s people, and promoting the capital city’s image - the City for Peace.

The walking streets normally are open from Friday night to Sunday night, from 7:00pm to 12:00pm in summer and from 6:00pm to 12:00pm in winter.

UNDP extends disaster-resilient house program for people in coastal Vietnam

UNDP believes that the support will help residents rebuilt their lives and livelihoods.

A crowdfunding campaign entitled “Safe Houses Save Lives” to build houses for residents in Vietnam’s central coastal areas was launched on February 5, contributing to recovery plans in the flood-hit region.

In the partnership among the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Dan Tri newspaper, and the Vietnam Fund for Promoting Education, the campaign aims to build 100 new storm- and flood-resilient houses for poor and near-poor families in Quang Binh.

The two-year campaign, which receives financial support by the Korean non-governmental organization World Share and VND1 billion (US$43,000) from Dan Tri, is part of a broader UNDP effort to support government response and recovery work in central Vietnam.

It is estimated that 100,000 resilient houses are needed to meet the demand of vulnerable households in typhoon-prone coastal areas.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam, stressed the importance of ensuring no most vulnerable left behind in the recovery plans in the flood-hit region, saying that “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, less people will need emergency support in the future. “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 Ms. Wiesen.

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.

In another move, UNDP and Quang Nam authorities on February 4 handed over the first houses in a program to repair more than 3,300 houses and 20 new ones in Quang Ngai and Quang Nam. Handing over the houses ahead of Tet holiday is meaningful for beneficiaries.

“Thanks to successes of the project “Improving resilience of vulnerable coastal communities to climate change-related impacts in Vietnam” under the support by the Green Climate Fund, Government of Vietnam and UNDP, roughly 3,500 storm- and flood-resilient houses built since 2017 in coastal provinces including Quang Nam have effectively protected lives and property. We are delighted to hand over new homes in the province before the Lunar New Year,” said Mr. Dao Xuan Lai, Head of Environment and Climate Change Department, UNDP Vietnam.

Vietnam considers reducing Covid-19 quarantine back to 14 days

Vietnam's health ministry is waiting for final reports before amending the rule on the quarantine period.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Health is considering reducing the Covid-19 quarantine period from 21 to 14 days since the incubation period for the new coronavirus variant is also two weeks.

Deputy Minister of Health Do Xuan Tuyen said at a government meeting on February 5 that the latest studies in Vietnam showed the new strain, originating from the UK, has a higher basic reproduction number than previous strains and faster onset time.

However, its incubation period is still 14 days like other variants, Mr. Tuyen said, adding that countries around the world have decreed a 14-day quarantine for those who were in close contact with Covid-19 patients despite the outbreak of the new coronavirus mutant.

The ministry is waiting for final reports before amending the rule on the quarantine period.

Vietnam has recently increased the quarantine period to 21 days instead of 14 days following the new community outbreak that emerged in late January.

Besides, social distancing, if imposed, will also last 21 days, longer than the 15 days prescribed previously, because the disease has spread to major cities across the country, including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Hai Phong.

At the time of writing, the national tally of the ongoing Covid-19 wave is 394, with infections recorded in ten cities and provinces. The nation has registered 1,976 cases of novel coronavirus carriers, of them 1465 recovered and 35 deceased so far.

Vietnamese people will celebrate the Lunar New Year (Tet) next week, the biggest and longest holiday of the year. The government has imposed lockdowns at Covid-19 epicenters, many cities and provinces have canceled Tet fireworks shows and other celebrations.

Ninh Binh bolstering digital transformation in tourism development

Digital transformation and information technology application have important roles to play in the realisation of northern Ninh Binh province’s tourism development plan, which aims to turn tourism into a spearhead economic sector by 2030, according to the provincial Department of Tourism.

The province has taken the initiative in rolling out a smart tourism portal and mobile app and has also digitalised tourism data in connection with other sectors, built a database, and offered free wi-fi services at tourist destinations.

As Ninh Binh is host of the 2021 National Tourism Year, it has set a target of improving the quality of tourism products as well as devising new products to meet visitor demand.

This is also viewed as a chance for the province to call for further investment in tourism infrastructure and bolster human resources quality and services.

Boasting some of Vietnam’s most diverse terrain, the province is home to well-known tourist sites such as Tam Coc - Bich Dong, Cuc Phuong National Park, Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve, and mineral hot springs.

Of particular note, the Trang An Landscape Complex was inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Culture and Nature Heritage Sites in 2014 - the first complex in Vietnam and Southeast Asia to receive the honour.

Some 90 km south of Hanoi, Ninh Binh is also home to Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries, and a number of spiritual destinations, such as Phat Diem Stone Cathedral and Bich Dong and Bai Dinh Pagodas.

It is also the ancestral land of folk music like “cheo” and “xam”, as well as the traditional craft villages of Ninh Van stone carving, Bo Bat pottery, and Van Lam lace embroidery./.

Southeast Asian nations rapidly deploy COVID-19 vaccination

The Food and Drug Supervisory Agency (BPOM) of Indonesia has considered granting emergency using licenses for three COVID-19 vaccines namely AstraZeneca, Sinopharm and Novavax, Head of BPOM Penny K. Lukito said.

Speaking at an online press conference on February 7, Peny said it will take up to 20 working days for the consideration process after BPOM has received all the necessary data from pharmaceutical companies representing vaccine manufacturers.

According to Penny, BPOM is still waiting for these companies to complete the submission of data.

However, data may be provided in stages, while the consideration is under process. Sinovac's Coronavac vaccine is the only one that has received an emergency licence from BPOM to date.

In January 14, Indonesia officially launched the first phase of its national programme on free vaccination against COVID-19 among health workers and civil servants, with three million doses of Coronavac vaccine provided by Sinovac.

The Indonesian government's updated data shows that nearly 800,000 people were given the first shot.

Another 25 million doses of the vaccine are expected to be produced by the end of March with materials supplied by Sinovac, local officials said.

Previously, the Indonesian government also identified seven COVID-19 vaccines that will be considered to be used in the country, including Sinopharm, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax, Sinovac, and the Red and White Indonesian-developed vaccine.

Meanwhile, Fresh News of Cambodia has reported that 600,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine funded by China were delivered to Cambodia on February 7.

Under the plan, China will provide 1 million doses of COVID19 vaccine to Cambodia. In the first phase, 300,000 doses will be handed over to the Health Ministry, and the remaining 300,000 doses to the Ministry of Defence.

A number of other Southeast Asian countries are also gradually implementing the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Singapore started its vaccination programme at the end of December 2020 and is expected to have enough vaccines for all residents by September 2021.

Despite reaching an agreement to import 2 million doses of vaccine from China before April 2021 for health workers, Thailand has to rely on the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine of the UK that will be produced domestically for its extensive vaccination programme .

Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu tightens forest-fire prevention measures

Agencies have to identify major forests at a high risk of fire and spread, and localities must be prepared to prevent and control fires.

The province has 33,600 ha of forests, accounting for nearly 17 per cent of the province’s total land area.

Forest fire-prevention drills have been held at district and provincial levels, while firebreaks, reservoirs and canals that would help prevent forest fires were completed before January 20.

The province’s Forest Protection Sub-department has inspected high-risk forests around the clock since last December.

The sub-department has temporarily stopped all activities that clean vegetation in forests during the peak dry season.

Trần Giang Nam, deputy head of the sub-department’s Nature Conservation and Forest Management and Protection Division, said: “Forest owners have established plans for reservoirs, firebreaks and controlled forest burning to prevent and control fires."

The sub-department has also increased public awareness about forest fire prevention and control.

One forest fire, at the Trương Phi Mountain in Đất Đỏ District’s Phước Hải Town, has occurred in the province in the dry season, destroying 1ha of bushes and grasses.

Đất Đỏ and the neighbouring district of Long Điền typically have forest fires every year.

Nguyễn Văn Lời, deputy head of the Long Điền – Đất Đỏ Forest Protection Bureau, said the two districts have mountainous terrains and no fences surround the forests, which allows people to enter forests to harvest honey and burn incense, causing forest fires.

Xuyên Mộc District, which has the largest forest area in the province, is also a hotspot for forest fires in the dry season because of alternating residential and forested areas.

Phạm Hữu Phương, deputy head of the Xuyên Mộc Forest Protection Bureau, said the bureau would establish measures to prevent and control forest fires this dry season.

The district has completed the preparation of facilities and human forces for fire prevention and control, he said.

The district will pay more attention to prevent and control forest fires from now to after Tết (Lunar New Year), which falls on February 12, he said.

In the 2019 – 20 dry season, the province had eight forest fire cases, causing damage to 2.1ha of forest, down two cases against the 2018 – 19 dry season.

Malaysia records highest COVID-19 deaths ever, Indonesia extends ban on foreign entries

On February 8, Malaysia reported a daily record 24 deaths from COVID-19, raising total fatalities to 896, while Indonesia decided to close its borders to foreigners for two weeks amid the spread of the pandemic.

On the day, Malaysia also posted 3,100 new coronavirus cases, bringing the cumulative total to 245,552, of which 51,977 were under treatment.

The country will receive a batch of COVID-19 vaccine of Pfize /BioTech in late this month.

Meanwhile in Indonesia, the government on February 8 decided to extend the ban on the entry of foreigners to February 22 amidst the spread of the pandemic.

All foreigners are principally still banned from entering Indonesia, Wiku Adisasmito, spokesman for the country’s national COVID-19 task force told a press conference.

Exceptions, however, will be granted for long-term residents, those from countries who have travel corridor arrangements with Indonesia and those who get special permission from Indonesian ministries or institutions, but by still applying health protocols, including a five-day quarantine.

In December, the Indonesian government barred all foreign visitors, except for ministerial-level government officials and long-term residents, from entering the country, as it tries to keep out seemingly more transmissible variants of the coronavirus.

The nation reported 8,242 new COVID-19 cases on February 8, pushing its tally to 1,652,958, the highest in Southeast Asia, with the death toll standing at 31,763./.

Malaysia’s unemployment rate rises to highest level since 1993

Malaysia’s unemployment rate increased to 4.5 percent in 2020, the highest rate since 1993 when it was recorded at 4.1 percent, according to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DoSM).

Chief statistician Mohd Uzir Mahidin said an additional 772,900 people were unemployed in December 2020, up 4.8 percent month-on-month, while the number of employed persons edged up only 0.1 percent month-on-month, equivalent to 19,300 persons, to 15.22 million persons.

The labour force participation rate (LFPR) in 2020 remained at 68.4 percent, down 0.3 percentage point year-on-year.

Mohd Uzir said the country experienced a slower labour demand in 2020 due to adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the health crisis had given a huge impact on the labour force which led the unemployment rate to reach above 4 percent against an average of 3 percent recorded in the pre-crisis period.

Malaysia’s labour market will remain in a challenging situation in early 2021 but various assistance and initiatives introduced by the government will cushion the impact of the pandemic on the labour market, he added./.

Over 3.5 billion VND channeled into charity market for Tet

The Central Committee of the Vietnam Red Cross Society (VNRC) channeled more than 3.5 billion VND (153,000 USD) into charity markets opened by its chapters nationwide from January 22 to 31 to support needy people before the Lunar New Year holiday (Tet).

Pham Thi Hoa, a resident in Hanoi, who received assistance from the charity market serving Tet, said her family is poor and gifts from the market helped ease her difficulties.

VNRC Vice President Tran Thi Hong An said these markets for Tet have made a practical support for needy people so that they can enjoy a warm and happy holiday.

Initiated in May last year, the market model is organised on the basis of mobilising resources and supports from the community, in order to serve people in difficult circumstances or severely affected by natural disasters, which hinder them from having enough food and necessities. Due to its high flexibility and practical response, it can run anywhere on a large scale.

The market offers food and household items of good quality and clear origins, with its consumers given coupons worth at least 300,000 VND to shop for their demand.

According to An, in mountainous, border, and island areas with poor transport infrastructure, mobile charity markets have been organised, attracting a large number of participants./.

Vietnamese embassy in South Africa shows strong performance as APC Chair in 2020

The Vietnamese Embassy in South Africa successfully completed its role as Chair of the ASEAN Pretoria Committee (APC) in 2020, contributing to promoting the partnership between ASEAN and South Africa and Africa in general.

Addressing a ceremony in Pretoria on February 8 to take the role of APC Chair from Vietnamese Ambassador to South Africa Hoang Van Loi, Indonesian Ambassador Salman Al Farisi lauded the activeness of Vietnam as the APC Chair in 2020.

He said that Ambassador Loi received the role from Thailand when South Africa was experiencing severe impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic on aspects of life as well as operations of foreign representative offices.

Despite difficulties, the Vietnamese diplomat applied operation methods to adapt to the reality, he noted, adding that Ambassador Loi regularly contacted with APC members and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) to exchange information on the situation in South Africa and Africa and share experience in COVID-19 prevention and control as well as promote cooperation among parties and optimise opportunities from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The Vietnamese Embassy played the role as a bridge linking the DIRCO and the Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry in preparing for South Africa to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC).

Under the chair of Vietnam – the ASEAN Chair 2020, South Africa, along with Colombia and Cuba, signed the agreement to join the TAC, opening opportunities on broader and deeper cooperation in politics, economy, socio-culture between ASEAN and the countries.
Ambassador Loi coordinated with other APC members to organise the ASEAN Golf Day in late November 2020 to boost cultural and sport exchange between the APC and local authorised agencies, he noted.

Ambassador Salman Al Farisi hailed the achievements that Vietnam has made as the ASEAN Chair and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, contributing to strengthening the common voice of ASEAN in the international arena, dealing with challenges of the region in a timely manner, and helping to build a Southeast Asian region of peace, solidarity and prosperity.

Ambassador Loi said that in 2020 when South Africa performed the role as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and the President of the African Union, Vietnam and South Africa coordinated closely at regional and international forums for the common interest of the international community, Africa and Asia.

The Vietnamese and Indonesian ambassadors agreed to continue exchanging information and experience to help Indonesia fulfil the APC Chair role in 2021.

Earlier on January 27, ASEAN ambassadors in South Africa had an online meeting to evaluate the performance of the committee in 2020 and sketch out plan for 2021.



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