Buddhists pray online due to COVID-19 outbreak

Blood shortage warned as donations postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks


The resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic in many cities and provinces in recent weeks has seriously affected the blood supply for medical treatment.

Although many people and organisations responded to the call of blood donation by the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion (NIHBT) on February 19, the amount of blood received per day was still only a few hundred units while the average need for treatment each day is from 1,200 to 1,500 units.

There is usually a shortage of blood during the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday as the holiday lasts long while blood has a short shelf life and many patients still need blood transfusions during Tết.

This year, the pandemic's resurgence has made the shortage after Tết even worse.

Before Tết, 30 entities requested to postpone or cancel blood donation plans which meant the NIHBT missed out on receiving more than 8,000 units.

After the holiday, the institute received information about the delay of 24 more blood donation plans from now to the end of March with an expected donation of 5,000 units.

In addition, the blood donation schedule in March cannot be confirmed because it depends on the university and college's return to the school schedule.

This means the blood reserves of the institute are decreasing.

If this situation continues, blood reserves will decrease to an alarming threshold, fell into a state of scarcity and seriously affect the blood supply to health facilities.

The Institute’s director Bạch Quốc Khánh said: “The estimated blood demand for emergency and treatment in February and March of the institute is about 50,000 units.”

“With blood donation schedules maintained up to now, there was still a shortage of about 20,000 units, seriously affecting the provision of 177 medical facilities in 28 provinces and cities in the north with about 41 million people,” said Khánh.

As of February 18, the institute’s blood reserve was about 4,800 units, the director said.

To tackle the scarcity, the institute had to mobilise hundreds of its staff to donate blood both during and after Tết.

Responding to the programme 'White Blouse - Red Heart' on the occasion of Việt Nam Doctors’ on February 27 launched by the Việt Nam Medical Trade Union, 33 grassroots trade unions have registered to donate blood.

But due to participating in the control of the COVID-19 outbreak, many units proposed delaying the donation events.

Therefore, from January 28 to February 17, the institute received only 8,152 blood units, with nearly 1,000 blood units donated by medical staff in Hà Nội including the NIHBT, Hà Nôị Oncology Hospital, Hà Nội Heart Hospital, Geriatric Hospital and General Agriculture Hospital and nearly 900 units from relatives of patients who were undergoing donation treatment.

At the same time, the institute has provided 15,700 units of red blood cells (excluding other types of preparations) for health facilities, many of which are remote or COVID-19 affected localities such as Quảng Ninh, Hải Dương, Bắc Kạn, Thái Nguyên, Hòa Bình, Lạng Sơn, Bắc Giang, Thanh Hóa, Nam Định and Ninh Bình provinces, according to the institute director.

Some days, the institute provides up to 2,500 units of blood, double the average daily need of 1,200-1,500 units of blood, although it can only meet 70-80 per cent of the blood demand of hospitals.

To create favourable conditions for people to donate blood, from now to March 7, fixed blood donation points in Hà Nội at No. 26 Lương Ngọc Quyến Street, 132 Quan Nhân Street, and No. 10, Lane 122 Láng Road will open from 8am to 12am and 1.30pm to 5pm every day instead of opening only from Monday to Saturday as before.

The NIHBT called for people with good health conditions to participate in blood donation (especially blood groups O and A) and platelet donation and asked agencies and organisations to maintain blood donation schedules and mobilise officials, employees and people to donate blood to help tackle the shortage. 

Schools to reopen in HCM City in early March

Ho Chi Minh City will allow the reopening of schools from March 1, according to a notice from the municipal People’s Committee.

All schools in Vietnam’s biggest southern hub have been closed since February 2, a week before the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, amid a new spike in COVID-19 cases in the city. Students have shifted to online learning since then.

In the notice, the committee ordered the city’s Departments of Education and Training; Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs; and Health to jointly issue guidelines on COVID-19 preventive measures to ensure safety for students at schools.

It also requested that all students, teachers, and school staff complete health declarations on a daily basis, while educational institutions are responsible for telling students returning from or traveling to pandemic-hit areas to notify local medical units to receive health check-ups and monitoring.

The municipal Department of Education and Training previously issued a document guiding local educational institutions in rigorously enforce precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including cancelling all extra-curricular activities.

As of February 24, the city has gone through 13 days without any new community transmissions of the coronavirus./.

Can Tho earmarks 30.6 mln USD for poverty reduction

The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho plans to spend 703 billion VND (30.6 million USD) this year on poverty alleviation measures.

The money, to come from the central and local governments, soft loans and other sources, will be used to provide poor households with all basic social services and improve their incomes.

They will include support policies and programmes related to healthcare, education, vocational training, soft loans, and job and poverty reduction models to help poor and near-poor people.

Loans worth 640 billion VND (27.8 million USD) will be provided to 12,974 poor and near – poor households and those that have newly escaped poverty to do business.

The city will provide free health insurance cards to 3,090 poor and ethnic people living in disadvantaged areas, and 34,729 near-poor people, ensuring that this demographic is covered 100 percent.

It will provide scholarships or reduce or waive school fees for 1,870 poor students, and vocational training and jobs for 750 poor and near-poor people.

It will expand 48 successful poverty reduction models, and carry out agriculture extension programmes to benefit 150 poor and near-poor households.

The city has implemented various policies and programmes in recent years to enable poor households to escape poverty sustainably.

Last year it built 485 houses, gifted 43,556 health insurance cards to poor and near – poor households and provided soft loans worth a total of 648 billion VND (28.1 million USD) to poor and near - poor households.

More than 44,900 poor and near-poor households received 33.7 billion VND (1.5 million USD) worth of Government subsidies to overcome the impacts of the COVID- 19 pandemic.

The city reduced its poverty rate by 0.37 percentage points and had only 1,036 poor households last year, or 0.29 percent, according to its Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

The city aims to ensure the rate does not slip this year since the poor households are not able to escape poverty as they have members benefiting from the Government’s social policies or with chronic diseases or have only seniors./.

Vietnamese workers given long-term working opportunity in Japan

Vietnamese guest workers will be granted the chance to work in Japan for a long period of time under the special-skilled labour programme signed by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs with the Japanese government.

Under the scheme, the working period will last longer than the current 1 to 3 years.

Furthermore, Vietnamese migrant workers will also be able to enjoy benefits from these preferential policies, including wages equivalent to native workers at a rate of between VND36 million to VND50 million.

Guest workers will also have the chance to work for a long period in Japan, settle, and be able to sponsor their own families to settle in Japan.

All exit expenses will be partly covered by Japanese companies, while costs for learning Japanese and other vocational training fees are to be fully funded by various Japanese companies.

Last December, Japan announced 2 new visa regimes to foreign guest workers, with the working time of employees joining its skill internship programne to be increased to a maximum of 10 years. The new regimes will apply to 14 professions, including construction, nursing and agriculture.

According to the Department of Overseas Labour Management and the Embassy of Japan in Vietnam, the construction sector is set to implement a vocational test at the end of next March.

This also marks the first time that a scheme aimed at recruiting high-skilled workers has been deployed nationwide. Several other industries, such as furniture production, construction machinery driving, tunnel construction, and concrete pumping are expected to recruit additional workers in July.

The Japan Human Resources Society (JAC) recently signed a contract regarding a special-skilled labor programme with An Duong Group (ADG) and a Memorandum of Understanding with five vocational training schools. This is part of the Vietnamese Ministry of Construction’s plan to train "special skilled workers" and to bring additional skilled human resources from the local construction industry to work in Japan.

Ba Ria-Vung Tau to get tougher on illegal fishing in foreign waters

The southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau has ordered its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to get tougher on illegal fishing in foreign waters by local fishing ships and their owners.

The order was made by Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Le Ngoc Khanh during a February 23 conference to review local measures against the illegal practice under Resolution 12-NQ/TU issued by the provincial Party Committee’s Standing Board over the last two years.

Khanh requested to be provided with a list of ships involved in illegal fishing in foreign waters during 2019 – 2020 and tasked the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and relevant units with adopting stronger actions and sanctions for violators.

Awareness campaigns should be accelerated to educate fishermen and vessel owners that fishing in foreign waters without permission is against the law, he said.

Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Tran Van Cuong reported that the number of local ships caught by foreign countries for illegally entering their foreign waters has declined sharply in recent time, with almost no case reported during August 2019 to March 2020.
Since 2019, provincial authorities have inspected and verified more than 129,620 vessel arrivals at and departures from local ports, he said.

According to the official, Ba Ria-Vung Tau has traced origins of catch products and strictly punished those committed to illegal fishing and trading and processing of these products. He added that the province has also cracked down on a number of gangs arranging illegal encroachment of fishing ships into foreign waters.

However, it remained common for ships catching fish in areas along the sea border and in overlapping areas, he continued. Only 86 percent of fishing boats have been installed with cruise monitoring devices, and the percentage is lower than the goal set by the government’s Decree 26/2019/ND-CP on measures to enforce the Law on Fisheries./.

Adjustments to Tan Son Nhat airport planning greenlighted

The Ministry of Transport has approved adjustments to the Tan Son Nhat airport planning for the 2021-2030 period.

Under the planning, a terminal Doppler Weather Radar station will be built in an area of some 1,600 square metres to the northeast of the airport, while a multi-storey car park will be arranged at Terminal 3.

Regarding auxiliary facilities at the airport, adjustments are made to the location of the infight meal preparation areas and sewage treatment stations.

The Ministry of Transport asked the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam to review and update positions, scale and technologies used in the works so as to ensure the connection and uniform development with relevant infrastructure at the airport.

At present, Tan Son Nhat International Airport is the busiest airport in Vietnam. It is the biggest international aviation gate for the nation and centre for passenger and cargo transit in southern area./.

Quang Binh plans over 2 trillion VND for coastal road system

The central province of Quang Binh is planning to spend more than 2.2 trillion VND (95.6 million USD) on completing its coastal road system from now to 2026.

The route, over 85km long and 12m wide, will include 23 bridges, traverse six district-level localities of Quang Binh, and have a design speed of 80km per hour.

Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Thang said the coastal road system is a key and priority project of Quang Binh.

Running through six of the eight district-level localities of Quang Binh, it will help attract investment and tap into local socio-economic development potential and strengths, especially in tourism, services, and sea-based economic activities.

Once put into use, the route will not only connect local coastal economic zones but also help bring into play advantages of the Vung Ang deep-water seaport and industrial park complex in neighbouring Ha Tinh province and Hon La Port of Quang Binh.

It is also expected to contribute to security - defence ensuring, marine sovereignty safeguarding, natural disaster prevention and control, search and rescue, and traffic congestion settlement, Thang noted.

In recent years, Quang Binh has been working hard to develop the local transport system, he said, adding that all the five modes of transport are now available in the province, namely road, rail, air, sea, and inland waterway transport./.

HCM City primary schools flexible with their online learning

Primary schools in HCM City are adopting various online learning tools and resources amid the school closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nguyễn Lệ Thanh Tuyền, a first-grade teacher at the Đống Đa primary school in Tân Bình District, said teachers were using videos, PDFs and Word documents to design lessons.

Video lessons were uploaded on the school’s website and parents can download them, she said.

Teachers also designed homework assignments on Word and sent them to parents on social networks, she said.

Most parents were co-operative and arranged time after work to download the lessons, she added.

This approach combining offline lessons and discussions on social networks between teachers and parents is preferred by many primary schools since young kids can find online classes with dozens of students difficult to focus on.

A principal at a primary school in District 6 said teachers uploaded video lessons of all subjects on the school’s website every Monday and students would have to submit their homework within a week.

Parents could opt for weekday evenings or weekends to help their children with it, the principal said.

Other primary schools offer daily online classes, but many parents have a legitimate complaint that it is hard for them to sit with their children in the morning and afternoon since they are busy at work.

Từ Quốc Tuấn, principal of Lương Định Của primary school in District 3, said that only important subjects such as mathematics, Vietnamese and foreign languages were taught online for first, second and third graders to keep their workload down.

"It is tough for young students to focus on online classes without adults’ assistance," he said.

"Offline video lessons make it easier for parents to arrange time to help their kids," he added.

The city Department of Education and Training said online learning was designed using various tools and resources and delivered at the most convenient time for students. 

Tan Phu - Bao Loc Highway to connect Dong Nai - Lam Dong provinces

The Tân Phú - Bảo Lộc Highway plan, which connects Đồng Nai and Lâm Đồng provinces, will be carried out by Lâm Đồng People’s Committee, as approved by Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc. 

The project runs under the PPP (public-private partnership) model. The PM also agreed that the provincial People’s Committee will take responsibility to monitor the investment process of the project.

The highway, 67 kilometres long with four lanes, is part of the Dầu Giây - Liên Khương Highway, which links Đồng Nai to Lâm Đồng and is now under construction.

The total investment is around VNĐ18.2 trillion (US$789.75 million), which consists of funds from private investors and the state budget.

The project is part of Việt Nam’s infrastructure development plan in the 2020-30 period.

When construction is completed, the highway will help facilitate the development of Central Highlands provinces and reduce traffic congestion on Bảo Lộc Hill where sharp turns and landslides, especially during the rainy season, exist. 

Vietnam Airlines ready to transport COVID-19 vaccines

Vietnam Airlines has proposed it be officially permitted by authorised health agencies to transport COVID-19 vaccines from overseas.

The national flag carrier said it has prepared all necessary resources to meet the strictest requirements on vaccine transportation by air. It has sufficient logistics services, modern cold storage systems, and trained human resources that meet international standards.

It is ready to introduce refrigerated container services for carrying vaccines, as poor preservation can affect quality and efficiency.

The carrier will also set up a specialised unit to perform these tasks.


Vietnam Airlines has experience in transporting medical supplies, such as medicine and surgical instruments, as wells organs for transplant, even in time-sensitive emergencies.

It can deploy a fleet of wide-body aircraft such as Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s to transport large quantities of vaccines./.

ASEAN launches regional study report on labour productivity

The Regional Study Report on Labour Productivity in ASEAN was launched virtually on February 23, providing an analysis of the current situations and concepts in the field across ten member states and looking into the feasibility of developing a regional index.

The event, hosted by the ASEAN Secretariat, gathered representatives from member nations’ labour ministries, the International Labour Organization, the ASEAN Confederation of Employers, the ASEAN Trade Union Council, and the Asian Productivity Organization (APO).

In his remarks, Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Kung Phoak underlined the importance of labour productivity in ensuring a sustainable economy of the region.

“Against the backdrop of the changing world of work, digitalisation of economies, globalisation and aging populations, effective strategies to improve labour productivity are needed. The Study Report provides useful analysis and recommendations in this regard”, he noted.

In the same vein, APO Secretary-General Achmad Kurnia Prawira Mochtan highlighted that human capital should play a more central role in labour productivity growth.

The Study Report recommends greater investment on skills advancement of human resources and promotion of life-long learning culture, including in-service training, to support long-term labour productivity growth.

The Regional Study on Labour Productivity in ASEAN is a project in the Senior Labour Officials Meeting’s Working Group on Progressive Labour Practices to Enhance the Competitiveness (SLOM-WG) Work Plan 2016-2020. It was completed with support of the Asian Productivity Organization./.

Endangered sea turtle returned to ocean

A sea turtle that was rescued and cared for by fisherman after it became trapped in a net, has been released back into the ocean.

The endangered species became tabled during storms that hit the central region back in November.

After getting trapped, fishermen rescued the animal before handing him over to the Chàm Island’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) management board who worked in conjunction with Đà Nẵng-based SaSa Marine animal rescue team.

Although the turtle had some cuts, he made a full recovery and was released back into the sea on Wednesday. 

Experts say the turtle weighs 10.5kg and is estimated to be around 10 years old. 

Last year, a female Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys Olivacea) was rescued and returned to the ocean after five months of care at the MPA. 

The Chàm Islands MPA said at least 30 sea turtles have become trapped in fishing nets off the islands since 2018. Two-thirds die after becoming entangled.

The city of Hội An has been building sea turtle conservation centres on beaches of the Chàm Islands, and expanding the core zone for special protection to 30 a total of 33,000ha.

Only seven species of sea turtle exist in the world, and five of those are found living in Việt Nam. 

Hundreds of boats in Ha Long wait for end of Covid-19 outbreak

Hundreds of tourist boats are lying idle in Ha Long Bay due to the lack of customers amid Covid-19 pandemic.

There were over 800 boat trips were organised in Ha Long Bay each day, serving thousands of tourists and bringing much profits to the boat service providers and local tourism sector in general. However, hundreds of boats have been idle ever since the pandemic started.

Nguyen Tung Kha, director of a private tour boat company in Ha Long said he had just put two expensive ships into use when the situation turned for the worse. "We were hard hit by the first outbreak in 2020 and the latest outbreak has knocked us out,"' he said. "Every day the vessels lie idle, we lost tens of millions of VND on each boat."

Many firms in Ha Long are on the brink of bankruptcy due to huge debts, docking and maintenance fees. Various other related services also suffer. Crew members tried to find other jobs and chefs on the ships became food traders.

Vu Manh Long, director of the Inland Waterways Department confirmed the depressing picture, saying that they had hoped for a better development in 2021 but the latest outbreak ruined any hope.

Quang Ninh People's Committee said they would launch support packages to help the local businesses alongside with the government's support package for firms in Vietnam.

They may lower VAT, environmental fees and other taxes and fees for the boat service providers. They will also ask banks to extend the deadlines for loans or lower the interest rates.

Hanoi to operate 10 electric bus routes in Q2

The capital city of Hanoi will introduce 10 new bus routes using electric vehicles in the second quarter of this year, aimed at diversifying the modes of public transport and protecting the environment.

These bus routes will connect densely populated new urban areas, where there is a high demand for public transport, according to the Hanoi Public Passenger Transport Management and Operation Center, under the Hanoi Department of Transport.

Specifically, the new routes include the Long Bien-Tran Phu-Smart City Urban Area, the Smart City Urban Area-Ho Tay (West Lake) Water Park, the Giap Bat Coach Station-Smart City Urban Area, the Long Bien-Cau Giay-Smart City Urban Area, the My Dinh Coach Station-Ocean Park Urban Area and many others.

Earlier, VinBus JSC under the Vietnamese conglomerate VinGroup had registered to operate the 10 new bus routes using its electric buses and pledged to invest in 150-200 premium electric buses deploying advanced technology. The local bus maker is working with Vietnam Register to ensure the electric buses meet all the technical standards.

Aside from manufacturing electric buses, VinBus recruited personnel and is building infrastructure facilities so that it can operate the new routes right after seeking an approval from the authorities.

Le Dinh Tho, Deputy Minister of Transport, said the launch of the electric buses is in line with the country’s strategy to develop the auto industry by 2025 with a vision toward 2035, the national action plan on the management of air quality by 2020 with a vision toward 2025 and the plan of ensuring traffic safety and order in the country.

Therefore, the Ministry of Transport approved the proposal to operate electric buses for public transport in both Hanoi and HCMC, Tho added.

Data from the center showed that the capital city’s bus network had met some 15% of the locals’ travelling demands as of 2020. To encourage the use of public transport, the city will map out and revise plans, including collecting fees from vehicles which enter congestion-prone streets to limit the number of vehicles using the streets and researching the operation of bus-only lanes on certain streets.

Most of workers in Northern region resume to work

Most of workers and labors have come back to factories and industrial parks in the capital city of Hanoi, the Northern region and Covid-19 pandemic-hit provinces of Hai Duong, Hai Phong, Quang Ninh, etc as from February 16.  

According to Chairman of Industrial Zones’ Trade Union in Bac Giang Province Mr. Ngo Duc Thang, about 90 percent to 95 percent of workers in the industrial zones resumed to work as ordinary in the first days after Tet holiday. 

The Industrial Zones Trade Union of Vinh Phuc Province reported that the production activities of factories have been stable with more than 92 percent of returners.

Enterprises, factories along with their employees are strictly implementing the requirement of 5K (face mask, disinfection, distance, no gathering and health declaration) of the Ministry of Health on the Covid-19 pandemic prevention and control. Around 255 workers are absent from their working places because they came from the Covid-19 affected areas of Hai Duong, Hung Yen and Dien Bien and have been isolated according to the regulations. 

As for Thai Nguyen Province, about 95 percent of workers came back to factories and industrial parks from February 19.  For domestic enterprises, there were approximately 100 percent of returners to work. The most of workers at large-scale firms such as Samsung Vietnam- Thai Nguyen, Glonics Vietnam resumed to work. 

In the pandemic-hit province of Hai Duong under regulation implementation of social distancing, the Provincial Steering Committee for Covid-19 pandemic prevention and Control and the Management Board of industrial zones of Hai Duong Province directed enterprises to use maximum means of transport to hop on and hop off workers to their working places, minimize personal vehicles, adjust the working hours of the production lines to reduce the number of workers on shifts, after shifts.

Additionally, the Management Board of industrial zones of Hai Duong Province regularly updated and promptly provided a list of re-operated enterprises in industrial zones after Tet to the Hai Duong Police to monitor and respond to the risk of spreading Covid-19 pandemic. 

Binh Phuoc Province proposes construction of dual-use airport

The south-eastern province of Binh Phuoc has proposed the construction of a dual-use aiport on an area of 500 hectares in Hon Quan District in the form of public-private partnership (PPP). 

The project aims to expand Hon Quan former military airport which was built in the resistance war against the French.

The provincial People’s Committee and specialists made a survey of the location of the airport project. Accordingly,  the 100-ha Hon Quan airfield will be widened to about 400-500 hectares.

The local authorities have proposed the Prime Minister,  the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Transport for an approval on managing the current airfield and building the expansion project of a dual-use airport for both economic development and defense tasks.

The construction of the new airport aims to redirect to the industrial development that has been submitted to the Prime Minister to expand and set up planning for new industrial zones in the province.

HCMC to pilot bus priority lane
The Ho Chi Minh City (HCM) Department of Transport is preparing a plan to reorganize the city’s bus system to ease the current congestion status. As suggested by experts, bus priority lanes should be piloted this year to ensure route schedules and bus safety.

Buses are running on Dien Bien Phu Street – one of the main streets in HCMC. (Photo: SGGP)
The HCMC Department of Transport shared that the city aims at possessing a multi-means public transport system, including 8 metro lines, 3 tram lines, 6 bus rapid transit lines (BRT), and 200 regular bus lines, in order to meet the traveling demands of the community.

Due to the dense population in HCMC, leading to the large number of private vehicles, urban traffic at the moment has to shoulder a heavy burden, and the average velocity of vehicles in the downtown is just 20-25km per hour.

To tackle this problem, the municipal authorities have adjusted the planning of the urban transport system to implement the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) model. This model maximizes the link between residential, business, manufacturing areas and the existing public transport system.

HCMC is going to apply this model along Metro Line No.1 (from Ben Thanh in the downtown to Suoi Tien in Thu Duc City), Metro Line No.2 (the first phase: Ben Thanh – Tham Luong in District 12; the second phase: Tham Luong – Cu Chi District) and Metro Line No.5 (the first phase Bay Hien Intersection in Tan Binh District – Sai Gon Bridge; the second phase: Can Giuoc Coach Station in Long An Province – Bay Hien Intersection).

The HCMC Management Center of Public Transport (MCPT) is going to introduce 21 high-quality bus lines. This is expected to rebuild the community’s trust towards buses, and thus increasing their bus use.

In order to fulfill the goal, these buses must maintain their route schedule and are not allowed to skip bus-stops or passengers under any circumstances. They have free Wi-Fi, a route monitoring device, a sound system automatically connected to MCPT to announce destinations, free newspapers to serve passengers.

Bus attendants must have good manner, especially towards the senior, the disabled, the ill, and the invalids. Bus drivers must ensure safety by strictly obeying traffic laws and minimizing disorder inside the bus.

The new 21 lines must have sufficient infrastructure, including bus stops, stopping space, regularly updated information boards about current routes and schedules. These facilities must be clean and not illegally occupied by peddlers.

As suggested by Associate Prof. Dr. Pham Xuan Mai from HCMC University of Technology (Vietnam National University – HCMC), it is critical that bus route schedules be maintained so that customer confidence is regained, and people come back to this common public transport.

Prof. Dr. Nguyen Thi Canh from the University of Economics and Law (Vietnam National University – HCMC) said that the formerly piloting scheme of bus priority lane on Tran Hung Dao Street encountered certain objection from the community. However, it is this practice, along with careful planning, that is implemented widely in developed countries to help buses be more welcomed by the public.

Experts in the field suggested that HCMC should launch the piloting scheme for bus priority lane on some major streets like Dien Bien Phu (from Ly Thai To Roundabout – Sai Gon Bridge) or Vo Thi Sau (from Dan Chu Roundabout – Dinh Tien Hoang Street), which has many bus lines.

Simultaneously, better private vehicle restriction rules should be introduced on these two streets to make the scheme more effective.

Accepted the recommendation, MCPT is going to pilot bus priority lanes on the mentioned streets at morning and afternoon peak hours on weekdays. Each lane is supposed to be 3.25m wide, separated with other lanes by road fence. These lanes are for buses, ambulances, firetrucks, mini buses, and passenger vehicles 12-seat+.

Lately, HCMC has built several new streets; yet the proportion of traffic space in the urban land use is a tiny minority of 10 percent, which is not even 1/2 of the standard. Adding to the problem is the ever-increasing number of private vehicles, reaching 9 million at present (including 7.2 million scooters).

With such a high traffic density, with a priority lane, it is truly challenging for buses to maintain their schedules. Some bus companies reported that 80 percent of their buses cannot fulfill this goal. Some are even 1 hour late.

Just 3 years ago, buses were the most favorite choice of students coming to Thu Duc University Village, and there was a bus running each 10 minutes. Sadly, over 1/2 of those lines are canceled now since they cannot ensure the precise arrival time.

Obviously, the development of public transportation must go along with a more logical control of private vehicle growth.

Vietnam to digitize libraries

Vietnamese government has approved library digitalization program to 2025 with the vision to 2030.

This move is considered as a significant step to promote information technology application especially digital technology with the aim to ensure library continuity as Covid-19 puts brake to academic activity.

In fact, library digitalization is not a new concept, but the concept has been mentioned a few years before.

Some libraries including the National Library of Vietnam and the General Science Library in Ho Chi Minh City have applied digital library ; however, digitalization results seemed not to meet their goals. Limited spending and small human resources are two of culprits of failure in digitalization of the two libraries. Asynchronous implementation of digitalization amongst libraries is the main culprit of the failure in IT application.

Pham Quoc Hung, Deputy Director of the Library Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said that library digitalization, a process in which materials are converted from hard copies to electronic copies, is a lengthy and costly endeavor; worse, it has not generated good result as just some libraries in several localities implement digitalization like in the past time.

People can access the giant digital database only when all libraries are connected together; therefore, the government-approved program is expected to contribute to formation of a giant database.

The program goal is to complete and develop infrastructure of digital and digital data in all public libraries nationwide by 2025. Moreover, 70 percent of valuable materials, documents and collections on history, culture, science will be digitalized in the first phase of the program.

Hanoi proposes vaccine purchase for locals

Since early February, Hanoi’s top leaders have planned to buy vaccines for the locals.

Authorities in Hanoi have proposed the Vietnamese government’s authorization for purchasing Covid vaccines for its residents.

The government should grant mechanism to enable cities and provinces nationwide to buy vaccines for the inoculation in their localities, Deputy Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Chu Xuan Dung said at a government meeting on February 24 chaired by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Two days ago, the municipal Department of Health has sent a request to the Ministry of Health for the purchase of 15 million doses of vaccines with an aim to administer to the city’s residents at the age of 18 and above.

With the proposal, Hanoi expects to provide vaccination to 95% of its population.

According to Deputy Director of the Hanoi’s Department of Health Hoang Duc Hanh, the Covid-19 pandemic in Hanoi is temporarily under control but risk of transmission remains high as roughly 85% of confirmed cases were asymptomatic carriers.

"It means that only testing help detect infections which requires efforts," Hanh said.

A plan to buy vaccines came in early this month when Secretary of the Hanoi Party Committee Vuong Dinh Hue asked local authorities to build a roadmap for it. Finance for the purchase will come from the city’s budget and other financial sources.

Since the resurgence of SARS-CoV-2 in Vietnam late January, Hanoi has reported 34 cases. Local experts attributed Hanoi’s virus containment to massive testing and contact tracing. The city has set up 10,000 Covid-19 prevention and control groups to sort out people from affected areas and keep surveillance on them. So far, it tested more than 51,000 people coming from Hai Duong, the epicenter of the fresh wave.

Hanoi students may return to school from next week

Hanoi has gone seven days, from February 16, without confirming any new Covid-19 cases in the community.

Students in Hanoi may return to school on March 1 after a long time stay at home to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic while attendlung online schooling, Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Health Hoang Duc Hanh said at a meeting held in Hanoi on February 22.

The deputy director said that the capital city will monitor the pandemic situation until the end of this week and on the basis of Covid-19 test results and evolution, Hanoi may loosen social distancing.

“Students can return to school; festivals can be held. Therefore, the municipal departments of Education and Training, Culture and Sports, Industry and Trade must always stand ready to take prompt decision in the new situation,” Hanh said.

He added that Hanoi has gone seven days, from February 16, without confirming any new Covid-19 cases in the community.

The municipal health sector has carried out Covid-19 test for all returnees from Hai Duong province, the biggest epicenter of the pandemic, with a total of 51,595 people. Of them, 41,180 have tested negative, the others’ results are pending.

Besides, the test results of 17,528 people at 18 pandemic-hit areas in Hanoi have all come back negative.

The disease situation in Hanoi has been basically put under control; however, the potential risk of Covid-19 spreading is still high as some people from the Covid-19-hit-provinces who have not made medical declaration, Hanh noted.

In the 2020-2021 school year, more than two million Hanoi students had been scheduled to return to school on February 17 following the Lunar New Year holidays, but the Covid-19 pandemic prolonged school closures across the city. Many schools have resorted to remote learning during the break.

Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Health Hoang Duc Hanh said that the city would buy 15 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to administer all its local residents aged 18 and over with finance from its own budget.

Hanh added that his department had consulted the municipal People's Committee to send an official dispatch to the Ministry of Health asking for support in purchasing Covid-19 vaccines.

Taking into consideration the population and migrant people living in the capital city, Hanoi would need 15 million doses of vaccine to give two shots for adults aged 18 and over, reaching 95%, Hanh noted.

Hanoi, home to more than eight million people, has recorded 36 infections in the latest community transmission outbreak, which emerged in northern Vietnam in late January and has spread to 13 cities and provinces. The country's total coronavirus carriers currently stand at 2,395.

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


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