VIETNAM NEWS HEADLINES AUGUST 5

HCM City asked to focus on treating serious COVID-19 cases

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam has asked Ho Chi Minh City to focus on treating COVID-19 patients in critical conditions at present.

Dam, who is also head of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, made the request during a working session with municipal leaders and representatives from the Health Ministry on August 4.

He asked for pooling the involvement of more hospitals in treatment and ensuring sufficient medical supplies for them.

Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Nguyen Van Nen also required local hospitals to tap its existing infrastructure to treat COVID-19 patients.

Vice Director of the municipal Health Department Tang Chi Thuong said the department set up a task force to offer remote advice and on-the-spot support to hospitals.

Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Bui The Duy shared experience in operating a medical support network in District 7, saying that young doctors offered remote health check-ups to identify cases in need of emergency care.

He also suggested using different resources to ease pressure on the medical sector.

Concluding the event, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Truong Son said the city will direct hospitals to actively purchase medical equipment and supplies for COVID-19 treatment via its concentrated procurement mechanism.

In the afternoon the same day, Deputy PM Dam inspected Gia Dinh People’s Hospital and a vaccination area at Vo Thi Sau secondary school in Binh Thanh district.

Additional 3,943 COVID-19 cases take national count to over 181,000

Additional 3,943 COVID-19 cases were logged in Vietnam over almost 12 hours to 6am on August 5, a drop of 326 cases compared to that of the previous day, according to the Ministry of Health.

The figure, including two imported cases, raised the national count to 181,756.

HCM City remains Vietnam’s largest coronavirus hotspot with 2,349 cases, followed by neighbouring Binh Duong (497) and Tay Ninh (235).

There are also 189 cases in Long An, 169 in Tien Giang, 110 in Dong Na, 92 in Da Nang, 66 in Ba Ria – Vung Tau, 58 in Vinh Long, 35 in Binh Dinh, 32 in Dong Thap, 21 in An Giang, 20 in Soc Trang, 17 in Phu Yen, 12 in Kien Giang, nine each in Dak Lak, Quang Binh, and Tra Vinh, six in Bac Lieu, two in Lang Son, and one each in Thanh Hoa, Lam Dong, Quang Tri and Ha Tinh.

The number of cases since Vietnam was hit by the fourth COVID-19 wave reached 177,855, including 51,558 given the all-clear. The total recoveries stood at 54,322.

Among the patients, 470 are under care at ICUs and 21 are receiving ECMO support.

On August 4, more 263,272 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered across the country, taking the total shots given so far to more than 7.55 million, with 778,986 people fully vaccinated with two jabs.

HCM City is the largest recipient of COVID-19 vaccines from the Ministry of Health with over 4.07 million doses so far. It was followed by Hanoi which has been supplied with more than 2.94 million shots.

Haiphong to stop accepting people from social distancing localities from August 5

From 0:00 on August 5, Haiphong city will temporarily bar the entry of people from localities that are implementing Directive No.16/CT-TTg.

In the face of the COVID-19 epidemic, on August 3, Haiphong People's Committee issued Document 5256/UBND-VX.

Accordingly, from 0:00 on August 5, the city will temporarily suspend the reception of citizens, including Haiphong citizens from provinces and cities that are implementing social distancing according to Directive No.16/CT-TTg of the prime minister, except for those authorised by Haiphong People's Committee.

The committee said that recently, many people from other localities where Directive 16 is being implemented still enter Haiphong city, posing the risk of spreading the disease.

In addition, the city agreed to support Haiphong people staying in Ho Chi Minh City and facing difficulties with VND2 million ($87) a household, taken from the city's funding to support the COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control. Haiphong’s authorities will coordinate with related agencies to compile a list of Haiphong people who are facing difficulties.

According to preliminary statistics of Haiphong authorities, there are currently about 1,500 Haiphong people in Ho Chi Minh City who are coping with difficult situations and needing support.

Haiphong also installed more checkpoints at the gateways to the city, tightening measures to control the inflow of people and vehicles from other cities and provinces to implement social distancing according to Directive 16.

Hanoi ready for hi-speed massive COVID-19 vaccination campaign

Hanoi has been preparing personnel and infrastructure system to become ready for a hi-speed massive COVID-19 vaccination campaign as soon as vaccines arrive in the capital city.

Currently, localities across Hanoi are conducting vaccination in the order of priority.

Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Dinh Tien Dung said that the city has got plans ready to receive and inject vaccines in a timely and effective manner.

To reach the capacity of administering 200,000 vaccine doses per day, the city has set up fixed and mobile vaccination facilities throughout the city with a total of 1,200 injection stations and 100 mobile emergency teams, said Dung.

Hanoi currently has 704 vaccination teams, while additional 496 others will be formed soon.

The Hanoi Capital high command has completed vaccine storages with a total capacity of keeping 1.5 million doses and medical supplies and solvents serving vaccination activities./.

VN wants US to accelerate Pfizer vaccine delivery: Health minister

Health minister Nguyễn Thanh Long asked Mission Director for USAID Việt Nam Ann Marie Yastishock to speed up the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer to Việt Nam in a meeting late Tuesday.

Việt Nam has signed a deal for a total of 31 million doses of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. It is also preparing to finalise another deal for additional 20 million doses to be delivered by the end of 2021. The majority of the doses, however, up to 47 million, will only arrive in the last quarter of the year, despite the country currently seeing a severe wave of infections and the lockdown of major cities nationwide. Only about 1 million doses from this deal have reached Việt Nam so far.

During the talks, Long thanked the US Government for their support – especially for the donation of 5 million doses of Moderna via COVAX. However, given the highly contagious Delta variant, Việt Nam is suffering from a serious shortage of vaccines.

The health minister asked the US representative to work with Pfizer to help accelerate vaccination in Việt Nam.

For her part, the USAID Director said the US had struck a deal with Pfizer to provide 500 million doses of Pfizer to various developing countries between 2021 and 2022, and that USAID in Việt Nam is working with the US Government to secure donations of the vaccine.

Long insisted that if possible, the donation should come between August and September as Việt Nam’s situation is currently grave amid vaccine supplies limited.

The health minister also said he wants the US to help with high flow ventilators to treat critical COVID-19 patients and ultracold storage equipment to keep mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna at the correct temperature.

According to USAID, in early September, 77 ultra cold chain storages are expected to arrive in Việt Nam. This was announced by the US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin during his July visit.

The same day, during the meeting with US CDC representatives in Việt Nam, health minister Long also reiterated his calls for the US to give priority to Việt Nam in terms of vaccine access amid an overwhelmed healthcare system.

The health ministry has been setting up new intensive care centres in the southern region to deal with a large number of seriously ill patients in the ongoing wave of infections, but Long wants the US CDC to help with ventilators and medical supplies in order to reduce deaths.

Noting that Việt Nam’s vaccination rate has increased rapidly, the US CDC representative said that this is an important basis for the agency to mobilise other organisations to bring more vaccines to Việt Nam.

Minister Long also said he believed that the vaccines delivered to Việt Nam will be administered “quickly and effectively”.

To date, Việt Nam has received some 19 million doses of vaccines, and more than 7.29 million doses have been administered with about 744,330 people fully inoculated.

Quang Ninh closes non-essential activities due to Covid-19 fear

The northern province of Quang Ninh has decided to suspend many non-essential activities from 12 pm on Wednesday for Covid-19 prevention.

The province is among four localities in Vietnam that have experienced more than 14 days without any new Covid-19 infections. However, amid the country’s ongoing pandemic, Quang Ninh wants to tighten preventive measures.   

The temporary closure is applied to beaches, tourist sites; cultural, religious and artistic events; sports and entertainment activities.

Outdoor food and drink stalls are allowed to offer takeaways; while indoor restaurants are permitted to serve customers on the spot, but must have to install shields to ensure safe distance among people. They are also encouraged for delivery services.

Gatherings of more than five people at one place at one time at public places such as parks, squares, streets and beaches and other public places are banned.

People from other localities are requested to show their negative Covid-19 test conducted no more than 72 hours to be permitted to enter the province. People who come to the province from localities that are applying social distancing measures in line with the Government Directive 15 and 16 are sent to local paid quarantine sites for 14 days. Later, they have to continue quarantining themselves at home for seven days.

Drivers from other localities who transport goods to the province are asked to have negative Covid-19 tests within 72 hours.

The quick testing method is conducted at Covid-19 check-points of the province.

The province prioritises vehicles that transport necessities and those serving Covid-19 prevention and control activities. Vehicles carrying workers of companies and factories are also in the priority list.

Over 3,000 doctors volunteer to join COVID-19 fight in southern Vietnam

National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue chaired a meeting in Hanoi on August 4 with medical staff from centrally-run hospitals supporting southern cities and provinces in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

At the event, President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee Do Van Chien said about 3,000 doctors and healthcare workers from 22 centrally-run hospitals are preparing to travel to Ho Chi Minh City and southern provinces to help with the effort.

As of July 31, Ho Chi Minh received support from 44 centrally-run, city- and provincial-level hospitals with 2,521 doctors, nurses and technicians, and over 5,000 volunteers across the country.

NA Chairman Hue thanked the entire medical staff, healthcare workers and volunteers for their great contributions to not only fighting the pandemic but also treating patients with other diseases.

In order to curb the virus spread, he asked Ho Chi Minh City and southern provinces to fully follow social distancing rules, uphold the role of residents in residential areas, considering it a decisive factor to fight the pandemic.

He suggested consolidating the treatment system, especially intensive care system, supplying more medical equipment, focusing on treating patients in serious conditions to minimise deaths, rolling out vaccinations in the quickest manner, and caring for people’s health.

The top legislator underscored the importance of continuing to strengthen the social welfare system, caring for people’s lives, ensuring the supply of food and necessities to people, further reinforcing political security, ensuring social safety and order, and better performing information and communications work.

The Health Minister was assigned to propose more support policies for frontline staff and ensure health safety for them.

At the event, the VFF Central Committee donated over VND8.5 billion (US$369,000) raised by itself to support medical staff there.

Blood donation campaign launched in HCM City amidst shortages due to COVID-19

A blood donation campaign was launched in Ho Chi Minh City on August 4 to supplement for the blood banks of nearly 150 hospitals in the city.

Nearly 100 people came to Continental Hotel in District 1 to donate their blood, despite complex developments of the COVID-19 pandemic in the city, which is Vietnam’s current largest COVID-19 hotspot.

Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Duong Anh Duc, who also donated his blood this time, said that the city will create the best conditions for donators.

The blood donation events must be organised in accordance with pandemic prevention and control regulations, especially the Health Ministry’s 5K message - khau trang (face mask), khu khuan (disinfection), khoang cach (distance), khong tu tap (no gathering), and khai bao y te (health declaration).

Regarding the current blood reserve in the city, Dr. Phu Chi Dung, Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, said that the application of social distancing measures in the past two weeks has made most of the blood donation activities cancelled, leading to a decrease in blood reserves at the blood banks.

The blood reserve is decreasing and is expected to reach an alarming threshold, below 3,000 blood units, in the next seven days.

Deputy PM inspects COVID-19 prevention, control in Hanoi

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam inspected COVID-19 prevention and control work in Hanoi on August 4.

During a working session with the municipal Command for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, Dam said as the highest-risk area, Hanoi has so far put the pandemic under control, which is attributable to efforts of the entire political system and people.

He noted that as the pandemic remains complicated with the rapid and dangerous spread of the new variant, Hanoi needs to take more drastic actions, collect public feedback and closely monitor activities during social distancing period.

Quickly tracing down infections, and especially protecting pandemic-free areas are key to success, he said.

As COVID-19 testing is especially important, deciding on the success of the work, Dam urged the city to review and enhance its testing capacity, as well as pool the involvement of private hospitals in the effort.

Hanoi needs to fully tap its existing infrastructure to fight the pandemic, he stated.

Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Chu Ngoc Anh affirmed that the city will roll out vaccinations for residents after receiving vaccines.

The same day, Dam inspected a vaccination area at the headquarters of FPT Group in Cau Giay district. As scheduled, 5,000 shots are being administered there within a week, starting from July 31./.

HCM City starts sixth phase of COVID-19 vaccination drive

HCM City plans to provide vaccinations to 70 per cent of residents aged 18 and over in the sixth vaccination phase, the vice chairman of the city’s People Committee, Dương Anh Đức, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The sixth phase of the vaccination drive, which began on Tuesday, will take place until the end of this month.

The city has asked the Government to allocate more than five million doses of vaccines for the sixth phase.

The city has deployed 1,200 vaccination teams. If each unit delivers 250 injections per day, the city will reach the target of 300,000 shots a day, according to Đức.

According to the plan, 800,000 individuals will get the second shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and 200,000 people will receive the second shot of the Moderna vaccine by the end of this month.

The city, which has 6,966,626 residents aged 18 and older, needs 13.8 million vaccine shots to vaccinate 99 per cent of this group.

In the fifth phase of the city's COVID-19 vaccination programme from July 22 to August 3, as many as 920,329 doses of vaccines, including AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer, were administered to residents.

About 1,039 people had mild allergic reactions after the vaccination and received immediate medical treatment.

The city has received 2.5 million doses of vaccines. About two million people have been vaccinated with one jab, and 70,000 people have received two shots.

Since late April when the fourth wave began, there have been 161,482 locally transmitted cases in 62 provinces and cities, with HCM City accounting for more than 100,000 cases.

More than 6.2 million vaccine doses have been administered across the nation since inoculation began on March 8, with 712,860 people fully vaccinated.

U.S. pledges to provide additional US$500,000 to COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged that the U.S. will provide additional US$500,000 to COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund while he was addressing the ASEAN-U.S. Ministerial Meeting held virtually on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister from ASEAN member States and the U.S. to the ASEAN-U.S. Ministerial Meeting held digitally on August 4, 2021

Earlier, the U.S. contributed US$160 million to the fund which was established last March to address both the immediate needs and long-term goals of the ASEAN member states arising from the pandemic.

Blinken affirmed President Joe Biden’s Administration commits to continue pushing for multilateral cooperation in COVID-19 response and expanding production capacity to ensure sufficient supply of safe vaccines.

On behalf of ASEAN, Lao’s Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith, who is co-coordinator of the ASEAN-U.S. relations, welcomed the U.S.’ expression to fortify cooperation with ASEAN and the region, uphold multilateral cooperation, and support ASEAN countries to further enhance their health care capacity.

Kommasith spoke highly of the U.S.’ move to temporarily lift patent protections on Coronavirus vaccines.

Foreign ministers to the meeting welcomed positive advancements in the ASEAN-U.S. relations despite negative impacts posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. has emerged to become the second largest trade partner of ASEAN and one of the top investors in ASEAN with US$34.7 billion.

ASEAN and the U.S. agreed to continue placing high priority on containing COVID-19 and fostering sustainable recovery, with a focus on strengthening cooperation in trade, investment, digital transformation, and energy.

The bloc expects the U.S. would continue assistance in research, development, production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines while the U.S. suggested the sides enhance cooperation in energy, transport, women empowerment , and climate change adaption among others, in a bid to contribute to sustainable recovery.

Given complicated developments and newly emerged challenges in the region and the world, both sides affirmed that they work closely together to contribute to peace, security, and stability in the region, including maritime security and safety in the East Sea.

The U.S. reiterated support for ASEAN’s principled positions on the East Sea issue and welcomed ASEAN’s greater role in accelerating cooperation, dialogue and trust building in the region, and in ensuring full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and conclusion of an effective and efficient Code of Conduct in the East Sea in line with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law off the Sea, in which rights and legitimate interests of relevant parties are respected.

Blinken welcomed ASEAN’s role and efforts to step up dialogue and reconciliation in as well as support for Myanmar in order to seek solutions to stabilize the situation in Myanmar, voicing support for ASEAN to successfully realize the five-point consensus reached by the bloc’s leaders at their summit on April 24, 2021./.

New vaccination centre opens in Lâm Đồng Province

The Việt Nam Vaccination Joint Stock Company has set up a vaccination centre on National Route No 20 in Central Highlands Lâm Đồng Province’s Đức Trọng District.

It is its 57th centre.

According to Phạm Ngọc Khoa Nguyên, director of the centre, it is the first such large centre in the province, and can handle 500-1,000 people a day.

It helps save people the effort and cost of travelling to Đà Lạt City for shots.

It also targets vaccinating ethnic people living in remote areas.

In the mountainous terrain, which hampers travel, especially in remote areas where many ethnic minorities live, the centre is expected to help prevent certain infectious diseases.

With its good storage practice (GSP) standard vaccine warehouse, the centre can store many vaccines in large quantities.

Nguyên said all the vaccines are genuine and imported from leading corporations in the country and world.

HCMC collects 78 tons of Covid-related waste each day

Some 1,500 tons of Covid-19-related waste was discharged in HCMC between July 9 and 28, equivalent to some 78 tons each day, according to statistics from the municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

The city has assigned four waste treatment firms to collect the waste from 280 quarantine facilities and field hospitals, using 95 garbage trucks. As many as 417 employees have been joining the medical waste treatment operations each day.

The Covid-related waste is collected each day and taken to the area for hazardous waste for incineration, the local media reported.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment had earlier given the green light to the municipal department’s proposal to add three firms to the list of units in charge of treating Covid-related waste in the city.

The three firms are Moc An Chau Logistics Corporation, which has two industrial waste incinerators with a daily capacity of 1,000 kilograms each; Green Saigon Company with two waste incinerators and Tam Sinh Nghia Investment Development JSC, which has 14 solid waste incinerators.

The Moc An Chau Logistics Corporation and Green Saigon Company have started to collect and treat Covid-related waste in the city, with a daily capacity of some 10 tons each, joining hands with the HCMC Urban Environment Co. and the Vietnam Australia Environment JSC in medical waste treatment operations.

India urged to continue support for ASEAN in vaccine supply, innovation

Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son urged India to continue its prompt and stable vaccine supply for ASEAN member states at the ASEAN – India foreign ministers’ meeting held on August 4 as part of the 54th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting (AMM-54) and related meetings.

In his speech at the event, Son considered India a close neighbour and long-term partner of the bloc and encouraged the nation to assist ASEAN countries in applying IT and innovation advances in contribution to efforts toward recovery and growth.

ASEAN hopes to work closely with India to facilitate trade and investment and sustain the regional supply chain, the diplomat said.

Highly evaluating India’s support for ASEAN’s stance on the East Sea issue, he asked the country to back the bloc’s efforts in making the sea an area of peace, stability, cooperation, security, safety, and environmental friendliness.

At the meeting, ASEAN nations praised India’s contribution of 1 million USD to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and wished to strengthen cooperation with India in stepping up efforts for comprehensive and sustainable recovery in the region.

They lauded India’s proposal for making 2022 a year of ASEAN – India friendship to mark important development milestones in their relations, including the 30th anniversary of their dialogue relations and the 10th anniversary of strategic partnership.

India affirmed its support for ASEAN’s role and efforts in boosting dialogue and reconciliation in Myanmar and support for the country.

Both sides highlighted their mutual assistance in responding to COVID-19, minimising its negative impacts, and fostering recovery.

They agreed to maintain and step up cooperation via the effective implementation of the ASEAN – India Plan of Action for 2021-2025. They said they will prioritise promoting trade, investment, connectivity, marine collaboration, blue economy, science and technology, innovation, digital transformation, natural disaster prevention, climate change response, and narrowing development gap, among other matters.

ASEAN and India stated they will work closely together to contribute to efforts made for sustaining peace, security, and stability in the region, including maritime security and safety in the East Sea.

India affirmed its support for ASEAN's principle stance on the East Sea, backing the bloc’s promotion of its role in fostering dialogue, building trust, and ensuring the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) toward building an efficient and effective Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in accordance with international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The sides agreed to jointly compile cooperation documents within the framework of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP).

At the end of the meeting, Thailand transferred the role of coordinator of the ASEAN – India relations to Singapore.

NA Chairman meets medical staff supporting southern localities

National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue chaired a meeting in Hanoi on August 4 with medical staff from centrally-run hospitals supporting southern cities and provinces in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

At the event, President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee Do Van Chien said about 3,000 doctors and healthcare workers from 22 centrally-run hospitals are preparing to travel to Ho Chi Minh City and southern provinces to help with the effort.

As of July 31, Ho Chi Minh received support from 44 centrally-run, city- and provincial-level hospitals with 2,521 doctors, nurses and technicians, and over 5,000 volunteers across the country.

NA Chairman Hue thanked the entire medical staff, healthcare workers and volunteers for their great contributions to not only fighting the pandemic but also treating patients with other diseases.

In order to curb the virus spread, he asked Ho Chi Minh City and southern provinces to fully follow social distancing rules, uphold the role of residents in residential areas, considering it a decisive factor to fight the pandemic.

He suggested consolidating the treatment system, especially intensive care system, supplying more medical equipment, focusing on treating patients in serious conditions to minimise deaths, rolling out vaccinations in the quickest manner, and caring for people’s health.

The top legislator underscored the importance of continuing to strengthen the social welfare system, caring for people’s lives, ensuring the supply of food and necessities to people, further reinforcing political security, ensuring social safety and order, and better performing information and communications work.

The Health Minister was assigned to propose more support policies for frontline staff and ensure health safety for them.

At the event, the VFF Central Committee donated over 8.5 billion VND (369,000 USD) raised by itself to support medical staff there.

HCMC converts passenger coaches into ones transporting Covid-19 patients

The HCMC Department of Health is collaborating with the HCMC Department of Transport and FUTA Bus Lines to convert 15 passenger coaches into vehicles transporting Covid-19 patients, due to shortages of ambulances.

This is also aimed at helping to transport patients to treatment facilities quickly amid the rising number of Covid cases, the local media reported.

These vehicles will be equipped with the necessary medical equipment such as stretchers, masks, oxygen masks and a plastic divider curtain placed between the driver’s compartment and the other for patients. Besides, the drivers will be vaccinated against Covid.

The municipal Heath Department asked the districts and Thu Duc City to set up a hotline for patient transport and publicize it among residents. In addition, the hotlines must be operational round the clock.

The vehicles were told to proactively transport severely-ill patients to the nearest hospitals and contact a hospital transfer team on 0989401155 for support.

As of this morning, HCMC, the country’s biggest coronavirus hotbed, had reported 100,557 Covid-19 cases in the fourth wave of the disease, which began in late April.

Online painting exhibition cum charity auction helps people affected by Covid-19

An online painting exhibition cum charity auction raising funds for disadvantaged people who are affected by Covid-19 outbreak in HCMC has been organized from now until August 15.

The event called “Forever green life tree” organized by painter Ngo Tran Vu and his friends who are members of the Vietnam Art Space is opened on the Facebook pages, “All about art and artists” and “Vietnam art space” groups and the Facebook page of painter Ngo Tran Vu.

More than 60 painters throughout the country have sent their artworks to the display, such as Le Trieu Dien, Nguy Dinh Ha, Nguyen Manh Hung, Binh nhi, Nguyen Quoc Thang, Ha Hung Dung and others.

50 to 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of painting will be donated to the fund to help needy people. As of present, the fund has collected over VND500 million (US$21,805).

The Vietnam Art Space group previously held a similar event raising more than VND400 million for charity groups in HCMC.

Vietnam welcomes development of ASEAN-Australia ties

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son attended the virtual ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference with Australia on August 4 as part of the 54th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting and related meetings.
 
The event drew foreign ministers from ASEAN member countries, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne, and the ASEAN Secretary-General.

Minister Son welcomed the ASEAN-Australia strategic partnership’s new development stage with the official organisation of their annual summit from this year.

At the meeting, ASEAN proposed that Australia continue to effectively cooperate with the association in prioritised areas such as terrorism and trans-national crime combat, education, and climate change.

The two sides pledged to continue working closely to contribute to peace and stability in the region, including security and stability in the East Sea – a major maritime route of the world.

Concluding the event, Malaysia handed over the role of coordinator of the ASEAN-Australia relations in the 2021-2024 to Laos.

Overcoming war consequences significant to Vietnam-US relations: Ambassador

Vietnamese Ambassador to the United States Ha Kim Ngoc has underscored the importance of overcoming the consequences of war, especially the search for Vietnamese soldiers who died or missing in the war, to the process of reconciliation and healing war wounds between the US and Vietnam, thus promoting the comprehensive development of Vietnam - US relations. 

He made the statement at a debate in the framework of a webinar on “Overcoming the consequences of war, moving forward together" which was organised by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on August 3. 

The ambassador said he hopes the US Government, Congress, veterans' organisations, the press, and the American people will continue to pay attention to and support of cooperation in settling war aftermaths in Vietnam in general and searching for Vietnamese soldiers missing in action (VMIA) in particular. 

He suggested relevant US agencies, especially the US Agency for International Development (USAID), spend more resources on building a high-tech centre in the country to assist with the identification of VMIAs. 

The ambassador took the occasion to thank the US Government for providing vaccines to Vietnam. He affirmed that the US' provision of vaccines, medical equipment, and medicines to help Vietnam combat the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the friendship and comprehensive partnership between the two countries.

Addressing the webinar, US Senator Patrick Leahy said during the visit to Vietnam by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on July 29, the two sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding on gathering and searching for remains of Vietnamese soldiers missing in the war, adding that it opened up a new chapter in the cooperation in overcoming war aftermaths between the two countries.

He said the VMIA project, launched by the USIP at the start of the webinar, reflects the US's wish to respond to the good will of the Vietnamese Government and people in helping the US search for its missing in action soldiers over the past more than 40 years.

During a talk to the press within the framework of the event, Ambassador Ngoc said there are three factors for the two sides to make substantive progress in cooperation in overcoming the consequences of war.

The first factor is the consistent, long-term, and effective cooperation of the Government and people of Vietnam to help the US search for the remains of American soldiers missing during the war in Vietnam. The second one is the development of the relationship between Vietnam and the US over the past 26 years since the normalisation of relations. And the last one is the efforts of Senators Patrick Leahy, Tim Riser, and American and Vietnamese officials and friends.

Tim Rieser said the webinar contributed to promoting the search for Vietnamese soldiers missing in the war, and also to raising the awareness and interest of people in the US, especially the young generation, about their responsibility to contribute to dealing with the consequences of war and further promoting the comprehensive partnership between the two countries.

Binh Duong to pilot home quarantine for asymptomatic Covid-19 patients

The People’s Committee of Binh Duong Province yesterday approved the policy of piloting home quarantine for asymptomatic novel coronavirus cases and assigned the Department of Health to issue detailed guidance about the specific conditions, subjects, process to implement the plan.

The self-isolation will be applied for Covid-19 patients who are under treatment at medical facilities, Covid-19 cases and close contacts with coronavirus infectious patients without symptoms.

As for close contacts with Covid-19 cases who have fully performed seven-day isolation, if the test results in the first and seventh days under the PCR method are negative, they will be considered to self-isolate at home in the next seven days and shall carry out sample test again in the fourteenth day following the health sector.

According to a report of the Provincial Department of Health of Binh Duong, from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. on August 2, the whole province recorded 453 more coronavirus cases, bringing the total infectious cases to 949 ones, a reduction of 1,230 cases compared to August 1.

Since the fourth Covid-19 pandemic wave, there have been 17,807 coronavirus infectious cases in the Southeastern province, of which 1,792 have been recovered from the disease and 94 people have died due to Covid-19.

Vietnamese fashion designer becomes ambassador for Italian cuisine

After being conferred the honorific title of Knight of the Order of Star of Italy by the Italian government, Le Thi Quynh Trang or Trang Le, chairwoman of Vietnam International Fashion Week and President of the Council of ASEAN Fashion Designers was proposed to become an ambassador for Italian cuisine in the “True Italian Taste 2021” program.

The Italian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (ICHAM) and the Embassy of Italy will jointly organize “True Italian Taste 2021” program, first launched by the Italian Government in 2018 in 40 countries and territories, aiming to promote Italian cuisine and consumption of products.

So far, the program has collaborated with 36 Italian Chambers of Commerce in 23 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Not only cooperating in the fashion field with Italy, Ms. Trang Le has collaborated with the Italian Chamber of Commerce to organize a successful Italian-style Food Week.

She said: “I feel honored to be invited to this position by the Italian Ambassador. For me, Italy is not only the cradle of human culture and civilization, but also a country of countless delicate beauties, from fashion, architecture to cuisine. I have had the opportunity to set foot in this country many times, very interested in Italian dishes. Hopefully, my love and culinary knowledge will help me better promote Italian cuisine to Vietnamese people in the near future.”

President of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam Michele D'Ercole said that he had cooperated with Ms. Trang Le through series of the Consul General of Italy in Vietnam’s activities finding that she was fully engaged for this position. “We fully believe and hope Ms. Trang Le better promote the True Italian Taste 2021 project in the near future,” said Mr. Michele D’Ercole.

Prior, the chairwoman was appointed Honorary Ambassador of Eurosphere.

Quang Binh safely removes wartime bomb

Quang Binh safely removes wartime bomb hinh anh 1

Relevant forces in the central province of Quang Binh have safely removed an unexploded bomb left from the war from a densely populated area in Ly Trach commune, Bo Trach district.

According to the commune's People's Committee, local residents discovered the bomb while working in their garden on July 30. The MK82 bomb, weighing more than 200kg, was found 1.2m under the ground. 

The provincial Military Command coordinated with the MAG Mine Clearance Team and related units to move the bomb to a safe area for detonation.

According to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Vietnam is one of countries most contaminated with unexploded ordnances (UXOs). 

It is estimated that about 800,000 tonnes of UXOs were left across the country after the war ended in 1975, mostly in the central region. Some 6.13 million hectares of land are polluted with or suspected of being polluted with UXOs, accounting for 18.82 percent of the country’s total area.

Since 1975, UXO incidents have killed more than 40,000 people and injured 60,000 others, most of whom were breadwinners of their families or children./. 

Earth Overshoot Day 2021 calls for good-enough life

Many Vietnamese celebrities, travel blogger, popular Youtuber and TikToker stars join the Earth Overshoot Day 2021 to call for environmental protection activities, the good-enough life to reduce the human impacts on the planet.

Miss Universe Vietnam 2017, H'Hen Nie, singers Dong Nhi, actor Jun Pham, dancer Quang Dang and more have shared information of the event and sent calls to their fans on their pages, channels and social platforms.

Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year.

Soc Trang General Hospital put in quarantine as 14 coronavirus cases reported

The entire Soc Trang Provincial General Hospital in Soc Trang Province was placed under quarantine for 14 days starting at 5 p.m. yesterday, August 2, as 14 Covid-19 infections were detected at the hospital.

The Mekong Delta province yesterday afternoon reported 26 new cases, including 14 cases at the hospital, five cases having direct contact with previously confirmed cases, five cases returning from virus-hit Long An, Binh Duong and HCMC and two cases in a locked down area, according to the provincial Department of Health.

Tran Van Lau, chairman of the provincial government, asked the Health Department to issue guidelines for the hospital to map out a quarantine plan and take measures to ensure safety while receiving patients in need of emergency treatment, kidney dialysis and Covid-19 PCR tests.

The chairman also tasked the provincial government, the Police Department, the Military Command, and the relevant agencies with supporting the hospital during the quarantine period.

By this morning, Soc Trang reported 33 fresh cases, raising the province’s total number of locally-infected cases in the current fourth coronavirus wave since April 27 to 207.

Hoa Lo Prison launches exclusive radio channel on Spotify to lure younger audience

Hỏa Lò Prison historical relic site in Hà Nội has launched an exclusive radio channel on Spotify to help audiences learn more about history in an easier and more interesting way.

According to the prison relic's Management Board (MB), the channel opened after a period of careful deliberation with the goal of bringing history closer to the public through social networks.

Spotify is an online music, podcast and video streaming platform. It hosts music and other content from artists around the world and gets millions of hits every day.

The prison relic site broadcast channel includes podcasts that are produced by an experienced, skillful, and creative team with a lot of passion and love for the historical site, the MB said.

The radio channel aims to create excitement within the community, particularly among young people. Currently, the prison relic Facebook fan page has more than 60,000 likes with regular posts on the social network.

This is the first time that a media channel about Vietnamese history has attracted the attention of so many young people, according to a report from the MB.

The board said the exclusive appearance on Spotify is a spectacular breakthrough in the preservation work and that it will attract younger generations and help them learn more about the country's history.

Moreover, it said, as the COVID-19 pandemic becomes more intense, people are advised to limit going out. The MB said those staying home will be able to improve their historical knowledge while ensuring their safety, as well as alleviate their boredom. 

 

"I think the prison relic site’s channel on the Spotify platform is an interesting use of digital technology in historical preservation. It helps spread to all audiences the images and stories of prisoners, in particular, and Vietnamese history in general, including those who cannot directly go to this site," said Ngọc Tiến, a student from the Việt Đức High School in Hà Nội.

This is a remarkable development to integrate into the digital era, bringing a part of Việt Nam's history closer to the public, the young Hanoian added. 

Hỏa Lò Prison was constructed between 1886 and 1901 and named Maison Centrale. It was considered one of the three most savage prisons in Việt Nam, along with Côn Đảo and Sơn La prisons.

Hỏa Lò was designed to hold around 500 prisoners; however, by the 1930s, the number of prisoners had soared to approximately 2,000. Most of them were political prisoners.

Later, between 1964 and 1973, the prison was used to house hundreds of  American pilots who were shot down during bombing raids against North Việt Nam, including John McCain, former US Presidential candidate, and Douglas Peter Peterson, who later became the first US ambassador to Việt Nam.

In 1993 the government retained part of Hỏa Lò Prison to transform it into the historic site. 

Hỏa Lò Prison, which used has also gone by the monikers "Hell on Earth"; "The School for Patriots” and the “Hanoi Hilton”, is a historical site located at 1 Hỏa Lò Street, in the centre of Hà Nội.

The prison gained notoriety as a French prison for political prisoners.

There is a memorial monument dedicated to the Vietnamese patriots and revolutionary fighters who were interned at the prison.

This is also a “Red Address” for educating Vietnamese people from all walks of life, especially the younger generations, on the patriotic and revolutionary traditions of those who sacrificed for the sake of the nation’s independence and freedom. 

Đắk Nông youth union rallies to support deliveries of essentials to locked down residents

ple in the Tây Nguyên (the Central Highlands) province of Đắk Nông are familiar with the image of young people in blue shirts standing side by side with medical teams ready to participate in activities to assist in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. These are Đắk Nông’s young volunteers.

When Đắk Nông entered social distancing restrictions, the Youth Union of Nghĩa Tân Ward swung into action establishing a team of "Volunteer Blue Shirt Shippers". Their role was to help with shopping for food and delivering it to people living in isolated areas.

Lâm Thị Thùy, 32, immediately signed up to become a volunteer shipper.

She says that the team's work starts early in the morning. With portable speakers, families in locked-down areas are advised to compile lists of goods they need. Then at 5pm team members gather the information, go and buy the supplies, and deliver them.

"There are freelance workers living in cheap rental houses. Because of the pandemic they are out of work with no income and they don't have money to buy food," Thùy said.

"Sometimes we have to spend our own money to buy them supplies or mobilise other resources from local people to support them."

Trương Công Định, living in a lockdown area in Nghĩa Tân Ward said that these volunteers are very enthusiastic.

“Every day when our family needs to buy something, we just write a message and send it to them for help so that we still have food and essentials during quarantine."

Hà Thị Dương, Secretary of the Youth Union of Nghĩa Tân Ward, said the 20-member team was set up very quickly. They were divided into two-member groups that could support 300 families each.

“Most of the volunteers on the team are female, and have small children.”

"They lend a hand in the community with the spirit of the whole country to fight against the pandemic. Everyone enthusiastically participates.”

“If we just contribute a little bit more to the community, we are happy," said Dương.

The local Youth Union also called on donors to provide food and rice and to organise free kitchens for people in need and the functional forces at anti-pandemic checkpoints.

This work has proved popular. Notably, in Đắk R'lap District which borders the southeast provinces - an area with very high rates of infection - 350 volunteers registered to work.

Nguyễn Phi Long, 26, from Gia Nghĩa City, said that when he heard that the Đắk Nông Provincial Youth Union had called on volunteers, he signed immediately.

"Our missions are to assist people in making medical declarations and checking test papers,” he said.

“I cannot stay out of the fight against the COVID-19 enemy, because more than ever, each union member and youth must come together with the Party, State and the whole country to fight the pandemic together.”

Trương Văn Bình, Deputy Secretary of Đắk Nông Provincial Youth Union, said as many as 71 volunteer youth teams with nearly 800 members had been set up, with free kitchens providing more than 1,000 meals for needy children. They had also distributed 100,000 medical masks and 50,000 bottles of antiseptic.

The district's young people have launched programmes called "Sharing love - joining hands to overcome the pandemic" and "Meaningful journey" which call on donations of vegetables and fruits from local residents.    

Bình said that the volunteers were equipped with full protective equipment to ensure the health-safety regulation from the Ministry of Health and must be isolated safely.

"We have proposed to the provincial Department of Health the priority vaccination against COVID-19 for cases of reinforcements at pandemic check-points and the rapid response teams”.

Off-season fruits prove lucrative for Mekong Delta farmers

Farmers in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta are increasingly growing fruits out of season and more efficiently.

In 2013 the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had unveiled plans for growing five key fruits - dragon fruit, mango, rambutan, durian, and longan – during their off-season in the delta’s 12 provinces and Cần Thơ City and the south - central province of Bình Thuận, the country’s largest dragon fruit grower.

This is meant to help avoid oversupply during the regular season, thus ensuring prices never fall too low.

Lê Thanh Tùng, deputy head of the ministry’s plant cultivation department, said the delta and Bình Thuận grow the five fruits off-season on up to 73,800ha of their 132,200ha under them.

Of the 73,800ha, dragon fruit accounts for 45,100ha, durian for 6,300ha, mango for 11,200ha, rambutan for 3,100ha, and longan for 8,100ha. This accounts for about 51 per cent of their total output.

The off-season fruits have 1.5 – 2 times higher economic efficiency than seasonal ones, according to the ministry.

In recent years more and more farmers are adopting good agricultural practices (GAP) standards to grow fruits out of season.

For instance, during the main season durian is sold at orchards at VNĐ35,000 – 40,000 (US$1.5 – 1.7) per kilogramme while off-season fruits fetch VNĐ60,000 ($2.6).

Durian is one of the delta’s key fruits, and has seen high prices and demand in recent years.

Tiền Giang Province, the delta’s largest fruit producer, has more than 130,000ha under durian with an average yield of 25 tonnes per year. 

Đào Ngọc Thoại, who owns a 1ha orchard in Cai Lậy District, said during the off-season the fruit fetches 1.7 times the main-season income.

He has been harvesting around 20 tonnes during the former each year, earning profits of more than VNĐ1 billion ($43,400), he said.

Production efficiency

To improve efficiency, research institutes, universities and relevant agencies have transferred techniques for growing fruits during the off-season to farmers, the ministry said.

The Southern Fruit Research Institute would continue to do research, it said.

The ministry has instructed provinces producing off-season fruits to help farmers develop links with companies to secure outlets for their output.

In the delta, Đồng Tháp and Vĩnh Long provinces and a part of Long An and Tiền Giang provinces grow dragon fruit, durian, rambutan, and longan during the off-season.

The ministry said the provinces of Bến Tre and Trà Vinh and a part of Vĩnh Long, Tiền Giang and Long An provinces should ensure there is sufficient irrigation water for fruits this year and to address problems like drought and saltwater intrusion into water bodies.

In the 2020-21 dry season, which usually lasts between last December and April, farmers took several measures to mitigate the impacts of saltwater intrusion on fruit cultivation like storing water in ponds, using rice straws, leaves and plastic sheets to cover tree roots to reduce water evaporation.

They also increased the use of organic fertilisers, lime and bio-products to tend trees, pruned branches, discarded a part of the flowers and young fruits their trees produced to enhance their ability to resist drought and saltwater.

In Tiền Giang, saltwater intrusion caused little damage to durian trees as farmers took effective measures to mitigate it, according to the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The province has also recovered nearly 1,000ha of durian plants and replanted nearly 2,000ha that were damaged by drought and saltwater in 2019 – 20.

During that dry season nearly 4,500ha of orchards were severely damaged, with 3,500ha being a write-off.

The delta, the country’s largest fruit producer, gradually increased its total area under fruits from 287,300ha in 2010 to 377,700ha last year, or 33.3 per cent of the country’s total, according to the ministry.

The increase focused on dragon fruit, durian, pineapple, mango, grapefruit, banana, rambutan, jackfruit, and orange. 

Migrant workers unable to return home find support from local communities

A number of migrant workers who are unemployed due to social distancing measures, but can not go back to their hometowns, are struggling with their lives in the capital.

All people living in Hà Nội have been ordered not to leave the city as local authorities have tightened social distancing rules amid soaring COVID-19 infection cases.

Trần Thị Thoa, hailing from northern Nam Định Province, a fruit vendor in Hà Nội, has been stranded in her 10sq.m rented house in Ba Đình District for more than a week. 

Most of her neighbours who are migrant workers hailing from different localities are in the same situation as Thoa.

“On normal days, besides selling fruits, I also work as a part-time helper. I can save about VNĐ2 million to VNĐ3 million per month after rent, food, electricity and water,” she told the Vietnam News Agency.

Now Thoa and her neighbours have nothing to do but stay indoors and sometimes go out to clean the streets.

Having no income these days, she spends her savings on buying food which is normally only rice and boiled vegetables.

Thoa said “We always follow pandemic prevention rules but to be honest, without jobs, we face many difficulties.”

“We are lucky to receive sympathy from neighbours and assistance from local authorities,” she said.

“We feel more relieved and have more motivation to overcome this difficult time.”

Phạm Thị Diễm, vice chairwoman of Ba Đình District People’s Committee, said local authorities had offered support to many vulnerable people and labourers who are affected by the pandemic in the area.

Local authorities have helped people in lockdown, the elderly and those living alone buy food and necessary items.

About 300 meals have been distributed each day to poor and unemployed people in the district at No 57 Nghĩa Dũng St, Ba Đình District.

“Many wards in Ba Đình District have presented hundreds of gifts worth VNĐ500,000 to VNĐ2 million each to vulnerable groups. Rice, instant noodles, eggs, candy, biscuits and vegetables have been given for free to poor households or those facing difficulties during the pandemic,” Diễm said.

“We hope poor households and unemployed people can stay healthy and overcome this difficult time.”

Bùi Thanh Xuân, chairman of Phúc Xá Ward People’s Committee, said a lot of kind-hearted people have offered to present gifts to poor migrant workers in the area. Local authorities will arrange the times and venues for gifts to be handed over to ensure pandemic prevention requirements are met.

Nguyễn Lan Hương, president of the Vietnam Fatherland Front chapter in Hà Nội, said in spite of production and business difficulties, a lot of people and enterprise representatives have made donations.

The fight against COVID-19 will be prolonged, she said, calling on individuals, businesses and organisations to continue to make donations including cash, materials, and other items or even to simply lend a hand to needy people.

According to the city Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the authorities have provided more than VNĐ54 billion to employers and employees hit by COVID-19.

The department has proposed that the municipal People’s Committee develop a supportive package for poor households.

More than 3,000 households are expected to receive the assistance of at least VNĐ1 million each. 

Trade unions support workers to overcome COVID-19 pandemic

Trade unions at different levels have strived their best to help workers to overcome the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hà Nội Labour Federation, for example, has found more than 11,150 “Safe COVID-19 teams” at 4,148 enterprises with the participation of 49,440 workers.

They are responsible for educating workers on preventive measures, and supervising and reporting any problems to their leaders.

Nguyễn Thị Bích, a worker of the Bắc Thăng Long Industrial Zone in Hà Nội, said the teams are strict and monitor workers closely. People not obeying preventive regulations are not allowed to enter the factory.

“All of us feel the surrounding environment is safer and don’t worry while we are working,” she said.

Đinh Quốc Toản, chairman of the Hà Nội Industrial Zone and Processing Zone Trade Union, said that if any case of COVID-19 was detected, the local trade union would help the patient to implement the preventive and control measures regulated by the National Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.

The trade union would also support workers and help enterprises to mitigate the impacts of an outbreak.

The union utilises infographics and Zalo groups to quickly spread instruction to the “Safe COVID-19 Teams”.

The municipal Trade Union has also set up more than 3,300 Trade Union Zalo groups with more than 100,000 participants. Trade union leaders take part in all of the group and ensure that the members receive accurate information in a timely manner.

Nguyễn Phi Thường, chairman of the Hà Nội Labour Federation, said that the municipal trade union has determined that timely and renewed action was needed to improve the situation.

Creating belief

In HCM City, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted the 1.6 million workers at thousands of enterprises around the city.

So far, more than 3,000 workers in the city are F0 whereas more than 12,000 others are F1.

The HCM City Trade Union has responded in a number of different ways.

Nguyễn Thị Chung, a worker at Thiên Lộc Shoes Co Ltd, said that her accommodation was locked down due to a case of COVID-19. The company’s trade union informed her that she would still receive 70 per cent of her salary for the 12 days of quarantine based on the Labour Law.

“I’m very happy, but not surprised because many other workers had also received such support. During hard times, we have seen that the trade union’s role is very important. We are content to fulfil quarantine requirements strictly and wait for the day we can return to work,” said Chung.

In the past year, the HCM City has organised a number of programmes to take care of workers with total funds of more than VNĐ12.5 billion (US$545,800). Nearly 8,000 workers received support of nearly VNĐ5.9 billion ($257,700).

Deputy chairman of the municipal Labour Federation Phạm Chí Tâm said that the COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on workers including freelancers.

The municipal trade unions at different levels have conducted supportive work in the spirit of “no person is left behind”.

“It will help freelancers feel more secure coping with these challenges,” Tâm said.

Safe manufacture

Not only Hà Nội and HCM City were seriously affected by the pandemic. Many other localities such as Bình Dương, Đồng Nai and Cần Thơ also have to apply social distancing measures to ensure residents’ safety.

Recently, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Việt Nam General Confederation of Labour and the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry co-issued instructions to enterprises to ensure their safety during production.

Chairman Toản said that the trade union would continue to uphold the role of “Safe COVID-19 Teams”, and educate workers to keep calm and strictly obey preventive regulations to ensure the “double targets” of preventing the pandemic while developing the economy.

Việt Nam has 16 million workers at industrial zones and processing zones, creating 60 per cent of the total output of the nation and contributing 70 per cent of the State budget.

Capital warned about outbreak of H5N8 avian flu strain

Hanoi culled a total of 2,528 fowls throughout July after two separate outbreaks of the A/H5N8 bird flu were detected in the capital's Ba Vi district, according to information provided by the Hanoi Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary.

2,528 fowls are culled throughout July in Hanoi following two separate outbreaks of the A/H5N8 bird flu.
The department’s report indicates that since the beginning of the year, Hanoi has recorded 35 outbreaks of avian influenza across 18 communes in 10 separate districts, with approximately 69,767 fowls being culled as a result.

Nguyen Ngoc Son, head of the Hanoi Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department also warned about the high risk of an outbreak of influenza A/H5N8 in Vietnam, particularly in Hanoi as the capital currently has the largest total poultry herd nationwide at 38 million.

In the face of the situation, local people in affected areas have been urged to intensify urgent preventive measures to combat the potential spread of the avian flu.

Earlier both the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Vietnam had issued a press release urging the Vietnamese Government and the public to stay vigilance regarding the H5N8 human infection following the detection of seven farm workers being infected with the influenza A (H5N8) in a chicken farm in Russia.

The infection was touched upon in the first report by the two organizations on H5N8 poultry-to-human infection, despite the virus having been circulating among poultry and wild birds since 2016. All seven human cases were asymptomatic and to date there is no evidence to suggest that severe human infections or human-to-human transmission of this virus has ever occurred, it said.

In the report, Dr. Satoko Otsu, Team Lead of the WHO Health Emergency Programme in Vietnam also warned of vigilance against the avian flu in spite of lower risk of this strain in the country.

The bird flu infections in humans are largely associated with direct contact that people have with either infected live or dead poultry. 

Fine arts joins hands with the community to fight the epidemic

While the country is devoting all its resources to prevent and control the COVID-19 epidemic, painters and sculptors have made great contributions to the fight against the pandemic through exciting and effective online exhibitions and auctions.

“Cay doi mai xanh” (Tree of eternal life) is the name of the exhibition held by Gieo Gao (Sowing Rice) Fund. It is expected to run until August 15 via the forums Vietnam Art Space (VAS), All about Art and Artists (5A) and the personal facebook of painter Ngo Tran Vu. The exhibition was shared widely by painters and fine arts lovers. Its name was chosen as a tribute to a painting by artist Vu Muoi.

As of August 2, the Fund has received VND765 million converted into rice and essential food for 2,139 families living in difficult circumstances in Ho Chi Minh City.

More than 60 painters such as Le Tuong, Nguy Dinh Ha, Nguyen Manh Hung, Le Trieu dien, Binh Nhi, Nguyen Quoc Thang, Dinh Ngoc Thang, Nguyen Hong Quang, Tran Cuong, Ha Hung Dung, Nguyen Duc Huy and Dang Thi Thu An, have sent their beautiful paintings to the exhibition, contributing to raising donations for the Fund.

Over 100 artworks composed of diverse materials, sizes and themes have the common feature of highlighting an optimistic and bright spirit, praising the life’s beauty. In addition to paintings, the exhibition introduces unique sculptures by painter cum artisan Nguyen Tan Phat. 

Painter Ngo Tran Vu, a founding member and operator of the Gieo Gao Fund, said: “Since July 9, the exhibition has successfully auctioned 42 works. Thanks to funds from the sale of fine arts works and other donations, we have maintained supports for at least 100 poor families every day. Each donation includes 10 kg of rice and enough food for the whole family for 7 days. The painters participating in the exhibition contribute 50-100% of the sale prices of their works. The paintings and sculptures had been carefully curated from the artists’ latest collections. 

Another exhibition that is a testament to the hearts of art enthusiasts to the community is “The Stories of Rivers” by Song (Living) Foundation. It has significantly contributed to the campaign “Be Strong Vietnam 24/7, with the two main objectives being supporting the front line and donating essential supplies to people living in difficult circumstances in epidemic-hit areas.

Following four auctions on July 24, 25 and 31 and August 1, 17 art works had been sold, earning a total of VND469 million. Via digital platforms, the exhibition featured over 20 paintings by both Vietnamese and international painters, most of whom were active individuals in social work and environmental protection such as Le Dinh Nguyen, Ton That Bang, Doan Hoang Lam, Nguyen Quoc Thai, Nguyen Van The, Pham Binh Chuong, Ngo Binh Nhi, Phuong Binh, Nguyen The Hung, Nguyen Xuan Hoang, Pham Thang, Trung Liem, former Greek Ambassador to Vietnam Nicolas D. Kanellos, and Hadi Soesanto from Indonesia.

Previously, an online auction and exhibition themed “"Towards Saigon - Love Connection" was successfully held by the Vietnam Art Space (VAS) from July 17-21, with 24/145 paintings sold. The organising board sent VND415 million collected from the auctions to charity funds for buying food and essential supplies for poor people in Ho Chi Minh City. 

Painter Tran Thao Hien, a member of the VAS Management Board said of the criteria for the selection of works: “Each painter submitted 3-7 paintings with the messages of love, happiness and peace to the exhibition. The submissions ensured artistic conditions such as colours, layouts and shapes as well as ease of hanging so that anyone who loves art can buy them. Paintings that do not meet the requirements were disqualified”. 

In addition, a group of painters formed and operated by painter Vo Tran Chau from Ho Chi Minh has received donations worth over VND1 billion from cultural and arts activities and the sale of paintings. The group has helped people living in difficult circumstances and medical staff on the front line. The group has also helped single moms and poor families with little children.

Painter Vo Tran Chau said due to social distancing and blockades in many places, the packaging, transportation and distribution of gifts has been facing many difficulties. However, all members of the group have determined that the “fight” against the COVID-19 epidemic is still a long one and that help in the later stages is equally urgent, so the group will strictly comply with all regulations on COVID-19 prevention and control and resume operations as soon as life returns to the new normal.

Despite his young age, young artist Xeo Chu (real name Pho Van An, born in 2007) has organised successfully two online auctions, contributing VND2.950 billion to the purchase of medical supplies and equipment to Ho Chi Minh City Medicine and Pharmacy University as well as food for doctors and nurses in Tam Anh General Hospital amidst the epidemic.

Painter Le Huy from Hanoi’s Lamphong studio created a statue titled “Dien Bien Child – Vietnamese Child” inspired from the image of a child from Dien Bien Province going to a quarantine area in a baggy protective suit. He also sold over 130 art works to contribute to the Song Foundation.

Online art exhibitions and auctions have been continuously taking place at different scales, aiming to support the medical forces and people living in difficult circumstances.

While many other artistic and theatrical activities are "frozen" due to the epidemic, painters, sculptors and graphic artists can still produce new works at home or in their studios. Despite less visibility compared with direct displays, online exhibitions have made a significant contribution to maintaining the creative source of painters and artists and helping them show their sense of responsibility to the society. In addition, these online exhibitions have brought the arts to the people. If knowledge about painting and artists increases, the demand for owning original paintings for decoration and collection will also increase. 

According to an auctioneer, during the past year and a half of COVID-19 epidemic, around 1,500 paintings have been auctioned nationwide, contributing billions of Vietnamese dong to epidemic prevention and control. These works have not only shown artistic value but have also spread beautiful emotions and positive energy while supporting the community and anti-epidemic forces.

EAS FM Meeting stresses stepping up global, regional cooperation in COVID-19 response

Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son attended the 11th East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting via a videoconference on August 4, as part of the 54th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and related meetings.

Foreign Ministers of ASEAN member states and EAS’s partner countries, including China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India, Russia and the US, and ASEAN Secretary General attended the event.

Countries agreed to work closely together to actively realise results of the 15th EAS last year, especially the Hanoi Declaration marking the EAS’s 15th founding anniversary.

They highlighted the need to further uphold the EAS's role and strategic value as well as improve its response to complex and uncertain difficulties and challenges in the region and the world.

Amid the complicated developments of COVID-19 pandemic, participants vowed to continue upholding multilateral approach, step up regional and global cooperation in effectively coping with the pandemic, and joining hands to promote comprehensive recovery towards sustainable development.

They vowed to complete the Manila Plan of Action for the 2018-2022 period and devise a new plan for the next period on the basis of priorities suitable with the new situation, making positive contributions to recovery and growth efforts.

EAS countries committed to assisting ASEAN in improving the capacity of preventive medicine, vaccine research and development, ensuring safe, effective and fair distribution of vaccines.

ASEAN suggested EAS nations back the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund, make contributions to the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies for Public Health Emergencies and help the bloc implement the Comprehensive Recovery Framework.

Regarding the East Sea issue, they emphasised the need for coordination to ensure peace, stability, security and safety of navigation and aviation, build the waters into an area of peace, friendship and cooperation, and the settlement of disputes via peaceful means on the basis of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The countries called on ASEAN and China to fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and to build an effective and efficient Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in accordance with international law, including the UNCLOS. The partners welcomed the role and efforts of ASEAN over the past time to promote dialogue, reconciliation in Myanmar and to support the nation to seek solutions to stabilise its situation.

Addressing the event, Minister Bui Thanh Son underlined the EAS’s contributions to promoting peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region. Emphasising the need to focus on COVID-19 response, he called on EAS partners to support the equal supply of vaccines for ASEAN countries and raise vaccine self-sufficiency in the region.

Sharing opinions at the meeting, Minister Son affirmed the consistent principle stance of ASEAN and Vietnam on the East Sea issue, emphasising the importance of dialogue, cooperation, trust-building, and self-restraint to take no actions that complicate the situation and do not harm the marine environment.

All disputes must be settled through peaceful means in accordance with international law and the 1982 UNCLOS, he said, calling on all parties to make efforts to finalise an efficient and effective Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in line with international law and the 1982 UNCLOS.

The minister reaffirmed that the 1982 UNCLOS is the legal basis covering all activities in seas and oceans. He emphasised that the legitimate rights and interests of coastal states as stipulated in the Convention must be respected.

He pointed out that Vietnam has sufficient historical evidence and legal basis to assert its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos.

Brunei, Chairman of the EAS, will issue a Chairman's Statement on the outcome of the meeting./.

ASEAN, Russia hold Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Russia Foreign Ministers' Meeting took place virtually on August 4 as part of the ongoing 54th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM 54) and Related Meetings.

Speaking at the event, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov stated Russia values its strategic partnership with ASEAN and supports the bloc’s centrality in the regional structure.

Russia will continue providing COVID-19 vaccines for ASEAN member states and is willing to transfer related technologies and expand vaccine production in Southeast Asia, he noted, adding that further training programmes for ASEAN medical experts and staff will also be held.

On behalf of ASEAN, Indonesia -the country coordinator of the ASEAN-Russia relations- lauded growing ties between the sides since 2018 when they officially became strategic partners.

ASEAN nations highly valued the outcomes of the Special ASEAN-Russia Foreign Ministers' Meeting in July, which helped promote the bilateral relations and the sides’ effort in COVID-19 response and boost recovery. They praised Russia’s proposal to hold the fourth ASEAN-Russia Summit to mark their 30 years of ASEAN-Russia ties and 25 years of partnership within the framework of the ASEAN Summit in this October.

ASEAN and Russia agreed to prioritise cooperation for pandemic response and comprehensive recovery. The bloc asked Russia to continue its assistance for the enhancement of ASEAN’s capacity regarding preventive medicine, as well as supply and help ASEAN member states to be self-sufficient in vaccines.

Russia hoped the two sides to continue coordinating at multilateral forums in the Asia-Pacific region, expanding cooperation between ASEAN mechanisms with such frameworks as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

Russia proposed to announce 2022 as the ASEAN-Russia year of scientific, technological and industrial cooperation; and informed that the first ASEAN-Russia dialogue will be held on issues related to IT and communication security in late 2021.

Speaking at the meeting, the head of the Vietnamese delegation highly appreciated Russia's proactive and active role in promoting cooperation in response to emerging challenges to regional stability and development, and welcomed Russia’s willingness for vaccine technology transfer and production expansion for other nations.

The official encouraged ASEAN and Russian businesses to increase exchanges and connection, and effectively utilise the potential of economic cooperation between the two sides, supported the consideration of building a free trade area between the bloc and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in the coming time, on the basis of existing FTAs between the EAEU and each ASEAN member country, including Vietnam and Singapore.

Vietnam wished Russia further support and make contribution to building mutual trust and respect for international law regarding relations between nations

Vietnam also affirmed its support for high level exchanges between ASEAN and Russia, including the ASEAN – Russia Summit in October.

Concluding the meeting, Cambodia officially took over the role of coordinating the ASEAN – Russia ties for 2021- 2024 from Indonesia./.

Vietnam welcomes development of ASEAN-Australia relations

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son attended the virtual ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference (PMC) with Australia on August 4 as part of the 54th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting (AMM-54) and related meetings.

The event drew foreign ministers from ASEAN member countries, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne, and the ASEAN Secretary-General.

Addressing the event, FM Son welcomed the ASEAN-Australia strategic partnership’s new development stage with the official organisation of their annual summit from this year.

He suggested that Australia continue to support ASEAN countries in responding to COVID-19 in a timely and effective manner, underlining that ASEAN and Australia should work harder to ensure the maintenance of market opening and the stability of supply chains’ connectivity.

Both sides should effectively optimise regional trade agreements, he said, encouraging Australia to engage deeper in efforts to narrow development gap and ensure inclusive growth in sub-regions, including the Mekong sub-region.

The Vietnamese FM proposed that Australia coordinate in strengthening dialogue and trust building as well as encouraging restraint and respect for international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

He affirmed ASEAN’s commitment to fully and effectively implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and continuing efforts to reach an effective and practical Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in line with international law and the UNCLOS 1982.

Highlighting the firm foundation of the ASEAN-Australia relations since 1974, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne affirmed that Australia attaches great importance to partnership with ASEAN and supports the bloc’s central role.

She said that Australia is implementing a 500 million AUD (370.84 million USD) package to support comprehensive recovery in the region. She affirmed Australia’s commitment to conducting the medical security and vaccine access initiative worth 523 million AUD as well as assisting ASEAN in realising the Comprehensive Recovery Framework.

Australia will provide scholarships for 40 medical experts and workers from ASEAN countries and will organise an ASEAN-Australia dialogue on mental health for youngsters in the time to come, she added.

A representative from Malaysia, coordinator for the ASEAN-Australia relations, underlined that Australia is one of the important economic partner of ASEAN with two-way trade reaching over 100 billion AUD. ASEAN countries lauded Australia’s support to the bloc through the contribution of 1 million AUD to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and 21 million AUD to the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (ACPHEED).

The two sides agreed to continue to optimise the ASEAN - Australia - New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA), while soon ratifying the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and expanding cooperation in digital transformation, innovative economy, digital economy, and infrastructure development to promote recovery and growth.

ASEAN proposed that Australia continue to effectively cooperate with the association in prioritised areas such as terrorism and trans-national crime combat, education, environmental protection, climate change, disaster management, sub-regional development coordination and development gap narrowing.

The two sides pledged to continue working closely to contribute to peace and stability in the region, including security and stability in the East Sea – a major maritime route of the world.

Australia affirmed that the country supports ASEAN's principle stance as well as the promotion of the association’s role in promoting dialogue and trust building, ensuring the full and effective implementation of the DOC toward building an effective and substantive COC in line with international law and the 1982 UNCLOS.

Australia welcomed outcomes of the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting on April 24, 2021 and affirmed the country’s support to the role and efforts of ASEAN in promoting dialogue and conciliation in Myanmar and assisting the country in seeking solutions to stabilise the situation.

Concluding the event, Malaysia handed over the role of coordinator of the ASEAN-Australia relations in the 2021-2024 to Laos./.

ASEAN, US agree to continue prioritising COVID-19 response, support for sustainable recovery

Foreign ministers of ASEAN member countries and the US agreed to continue prioritising the COVID-19 response and support for sustainable recovery during a meeting held via videoconference on August 4.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the administration of President Joe Biden attaches importance to the strategic partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and supports the bloc’s solidarity, unanimity and centrality, along with the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.

It wants to promote the dynamic and effective strategic partnership with ASEAN on the basis of mutual respect and jointly building an open and inclusive regional architecture of prosperous development, he said.

Blinken affirmed that the US will keep taking the lead in promoting multilateral cooperation in COVID-19 response and increase the production capacity to ensure sufficient supply of safe and effective vaccines.

The US has provided funding of 160 million USD and will continue assisting countries in the region to cope with the pandemic, he said, adding that it will donate 500,000 USD to the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund.

As the coordinator of ASEAN - US relations, Lao Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith applauded the US’s commitment to bolstering its cooperation with ASEAN and the region, advocating multilateral cooperation, helping to improve the healthcare capacity of, and providing vaccines for ASEAN countries.

He also spoke highly the US’s temporary waiver on vaccine patents within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) framework.

Participating countries welcomed the recent cooperation progress despite adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bilateral trade reached 308.3 billion USD in 2020, turning the US into the second largest trade partner of ASEAN. Besides, the US remains the biggest foreign direct investor in the region with 34.7 billion USD.

ASEAN and the US agreed to continue giving priority to the pandemic response and supporting sustainable recovery, focusing on stronger cooperation in trade, investment, digital transformation, and energy and via the US-funded development cooperation programmes for the region.

ASEAN countries hope that the US will continue assisting them in COVID-19 vaccine research, development, production, and distribution. The US also proposed enhancing cooperative ties in such fields as energy, transport, women empowerment, and environment - climate change so as to contribute to even and sustainable recovery efforts.

Pointing out that the international and regional situation remains complex with new challenges arising, the two sides affirmed close coordination to help maintain regional peace, security, and stability, including security and safety of navigation in the East Sea

The US emphasised its support for ASEAN’s principled stance on the East Sea issue, welcoming the bloc bringing into play its role in promoting cooperation, dialogue, and trust building in the region, ensuring the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and building an efficient and effective Code of Conduct (COC) in the East Sea in line with international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) with the rights and legitimate interests of relevant parties respected and properly mentioned.

The US Secretary of State lauded ASEAN’s role and efforts to step up dialogue and reconciliation in Myanmar and help the country seek solutions to stabilise its situation. He also underlined support for the bloc to successfully carry out the Five-Point Consensus reached at the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting on April 24, 2021.

Addressing the meeting, Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son welcomed the US’s extensive and intensive cooperation with ASEAN, stressing the country’s important role in global efforts against COVID-19 and climate change.

He highly valued the US’s provision of vaccines for ASEAN nations, including Vietnam, asking it to keep assisting the bloc to gain timely and sufficient access to vaccines and soon transfer vaccine production technology to the bloc’s members.

Vietnam expects the US to help the regional countries improve their preventive medicine capacity via its regional representative office based in Vietnam, he said.

The ASEAN countries are ready to create optimal conditions for US enterprises to expand investment and business in the region, Son noted, asking the US to continue helping the bloc narrow the development gap and ensure sustainable growth in ASEAN sub-regions, including the Mekong sub-region, and via the Mekong - US Partnership.

The Vietnamese minister affirmed that countries, including ASEAN and the US, share interests and responsibilities in maintaining peace, stability, security, safety, and freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea.

He underlined that all parties need to show their goodwill of cooperation, act responsibly, and jointly work towards the East Sea of peace, stability, security, safety, and protected environment.

Son also highlighted ASEAN’s consistent stance on the East Sea, stressing the importance of building trust, exercising self-restraint, not militarising, peacefully resolving disputes on the basis of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, promoting the full and effective implementation of the DOC, and soon finalising an effective and practical COC in line with international law and the 1982 UNCLOS.

He expects that the US will continue playing a constructive role, supporting ASEAN’s efforts to sustain peace, stability, and freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea, and backing the bloc’s efforts to seek solutions to the Myanmar situation.

At the end of the event, part of the 54th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and related meetings, Indonesia officially assumed the role as coordinator of ASEAN - US relations for the 2021 - 2024 period./.

Defence Minister hosts Russian ambassador

Minister of National Defence General Phan Van Giang hosted a reception for Russian Ambassador to Vietnam Bezdetko Gennady Stepanovich in Hanoi on August 4.

At the meeting, Giang said despite impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnamese and Russian defence ministries are resolved to effectively materialise their cooperation plan in 2021, contributing to consolidating and enhancing the bilateral defence ties and military technology cooperation.

The two sides have focused on online meetings and talks, training, military technology cooperation, and donation of medical supplies to serve the pandemic combat, he added.

The Vietnamese defence ministry has sent delegations to the International Army Games 2021 and the International Military-Technical Forum (Army 2021), along with two frigates to attend a naval parade in Russia’s Vladivostok city, Giang told the ambassador.

The minister lauded joint efforts to complete procedures to present orders and medals to leaders and officers of the two ministries, as well as coordination in building documents as part of the dossier marking the 70th anniversary of defence cooperation between Vietnam and the Soviet Union/Russia.

He also informed that the Defence Ministry and the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia are working to secure an amount of vaccines to present to the Vietnamese Defence Ministry to inoculate officers and soldiers working on the frontline of the pandemic combat.

For his part, the ambassador pledged to work to promote the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, including the defence ties and military technology cooperation./.

Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/SGGP/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes 

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