VIETNAM NEWS HEADLINES OCTOBER 21

Lockdown removed from Hanoi’s largest wholesale market

Hanoi authorities have lifted the lockdown in the city’s largest wholesale market at Long Bien which was experienced a Covid-19 outbreak.

The isolation which lasted for over two months was removed from midnight Wednesday.  

Nguyen Van Loan, deputy head of the market management board, said that the board had issued a plan on Covid-19 prevention. Traders at the market were required to be given at least one shot of Covid-19 vaccine. They need to pledge to strictly conform to Covid-19 protocols.

Customers have to scan QR codes at the market gates and stalls. Shields are installed among stalls.

The market has arranged a separate quarantine area for people suspected of being infected with Covid-19.

Sterilisation is conducted after the market closes every day.

Local authorities have asked the market management board to conduct Covid-19 testing for traders once a week.

Vietnam hails formation of Lebanon’s new government

Nguyen Phuong Tra, deputy permanent representative of Vietnam to the UN, has welcomed the formation of a new government in Lebanon, expressing hope that it will strive to redouble efforts to conduct necessary reforms in an effort to bring the country out of the current crisis.

Upon addressing the UN Security Council’s meeting held on October 20 regarding the implementation of the council’s Resolution 1559 related to the Lebanese situation in October, Tra expressed her appreciation for international efforts led by France and the UN to support the Lebanese people. This was alongside calls for relevant Lebanese authorities to exert greater efforts to consolidate the confidence of the international community. This includes speeding up the investigation on the explosion in Beirut in August, 2020, urging all parties to exercise restraint, and to also avoid any actions and statements that may contribute to increasing tensions.

She also called on relevant parties to continue to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Lebanon in line with resolutions 1559 and 1701 of the UN Security Council.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Khaled Khiari assessed there has been almost no progress made in terms of the implementation of Resolution 1559 in recent times, particularly as Lebanon continues to face challenges. These issues include an unstable socio-economic situation, increasing poverty and unemployment rates, and sovereignty violations.

First adopted in 2004, Resolution 1559 calls for the disarmament of all militias and the extension of government control over all Lebanese territory.

Furthermore, Ambassador Pham Hai Anh, deputy permanent representative of Vietnam to the UN, upheld the role of regional co-operation and applauded the efforts made in order to promote relations between Great Lakes countries. This comes after they were recently put forward during a meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC) held on the same day to adopt a presidential statement regarding the Great Lakes.

The nation also voiced concerns regarding the situation in the region whilst underscoring the need to tackle the root causes of instability.

He added that the humanitarian situation remains worrisome, especially in eastern Congo. He went on to express concern over the plight of millions of displaced people and refugees, in addition to more than 27 million people in Congo that face crisis‑level food insecurity. 

Amid these severe challenges, he went on to add further encouragement to the intensification of co-operation to implement the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework, whilst also strengthening the management of nature resources and to tackle threats posed by various armed groups.

The meeting was held under the chair of Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Kenya Raychelle Omamo, council president for October.

HCM City issues set of COVID-19 prevention and control safety criteria at schools

The People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City has issued a set of safety criteria in COVID-19 prevention and control for all educational institutions in the city as a basis for deciding whether schools are allowed to organise educational activities or not.

This set of criteria replaces the one which was issued in April 2020.

Accordingly, the set of criteria includes 10 component criteria. An educational institution which meets at least six criteria will be allowed to resume operations. Those meeting 6-7 criteria are required to fulfill at least eight criteria within 48 hours to maintain operations.

Staffs of educational institutions are requested to have green QR codes which show their vaccination history. If they do not have green QR codes, they must present one of the following documents: the certificate showing they have been cured from COVID-19 for less than 6 months or has been vaccinated for at least 14 days.

The distance between students and teachers is at least one metre in classrooms, examination rooms or working rooms and at least two metres outside classrooms, examination rooms or working rooms.

In addition, teachers and students are asked to wash hands frequently and wear face masks./.

Socio-economic affairs, two draft laws in focus of parliament on Oct. 21

This year’s socio-economic issues, the development plan for 2022, and two draft laws are high on the agenda of the second working day of the 15th National Assembly (NA)’s second session on October 21.

In the morning, legislators are holding group discussions about the implementation outcomes of the 2021 socio-economic development plan, the draft development plan for next year, and the report on the COVID-19 prevention and control the implementation of Resolution No. 30/2021/QH15 issued at the NA’s first session in July.

They are also scrutinising the implementation of the 2021 State budget plan, the State budget estimates and the allocation plan for the central budget in 2022, and the finance - State budget plan for 2022 - 2024.

In the afternoon, Minister of Public Security To Lam will submit the draft law on mobile police, a verification report on which will be delivered by Chairman of the NA’s Committee for Defence and Security Le Tan Toi.

After that, Minister of Science and Technology Huynh Thanh Dat will submit the draft law amending and supplementing some articles of the Intellectual Property Law. Chairman of the NA’s Committee for Legal Affairs Hoang Thanh Tung will provide a verification report on this draft.

Legislators will later discuss the two bills in groups./.

Legislators talk this year’s situation, development plan for 2022

Lawmakers dealt with many important issues, including the implementation outcomes of the 2021 development plan and the draft plan for next year, on the first day of the 15th National Assembly (NA)’s second session, which opened on October 20.

Reporting on the implementation outcomes of the 2021 socio-economic development plan, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said the Government has been exerting utmost efforts in the COVID-19 combat with the consistent goal of protecting people’s health and lives. It has also been quickly completing a general strategy for the pandemic prevention and control and a programme on socio-economic recovery and development so as to keep the macro-economy stable, guarantee major balances, and promote production and business activities.

In the draft socio-economic development plant for 2022, the Government set up 16 main targets, including gross domestic product (GDP) growth of about 6 - 6.5 percent, consumer price index (CPI) expansion of around 4 percent, and the State budget overspending equivalent to some 4 percent of the nation's GDP.

To realise those targets, the Government specified several major tasks and solutions, including taking flexible and effective moves to concurrently prevent and control the COVID-19 pandemic while recovering and developing the economy and society.

At the opening session, Chairman of the NA’s Committee for Economic Affairs Vu Hong Thanh delivered a report verifying the implementation outcomes of this year’s socio-economic development plan and the draft plan for 2022.

Chairwoman of the NA’s Committee for Social Affairs Nguyen Thuy Anh gave another report verifying the performance in COVID-19 prevention and control and the implementation of Resolution No. 30/2021/QH15, issued at the first session of the 15th parliament in July.

After that, President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee Do Van Chien reported on voters' and people’s opinions submitted to the second session.

Duong Thanh Binh, member of the NA Standing Committee and head of the Standing Committee’s Ombudsman Board, reported on the outcomes of the monitoring of the settlement of voters’ opinions sent to the 11th session of the 14th NA.

In the afternoon, Minister of Finance Ho Duc Phoc reported on the implementation of the State budget plan this year, the state budget estimate and the central budget allocation plan in 2022, along with the finance - state budget plan for 2022 - 2024. This issue was later verified in a report read by Chairman of the NA’s Committee for Finance and Budget Nguyen Phu Cuong.

Prosecutor General of the Supreme People’s Procuracy Le Minh Tri presented a proposal on the draft law amending and supplementing some articles of the Criminal Procedure Code. Chairwoman of the NA’s Committee for Judicial Affairs Le Thi Nga delivered a verification report on this draft.

After a proposal on the draft law amending and supplementing some articles of the Statistics Law was presented by Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung, a verification report was delivered by Chairman of the NA’s Committee for Economic Affairs Vu Hong Thanh.

The two draft laws were later debated by legislators in groups./.

Vietnam announce roster for AFC U23 Asian Cup qualifiers

Head coach Park Hang-seo has announced the 23-man squad of Vietnam which will compete at the upcoming AFC U23 Asian Cup qualifiers.

Three players that did not make their name onto the list include defenders Doan Anh Viet and Cao Tran Hoang Hung and midfielder Nguyen Van Minh.

This time, the Vietnam’s U23 team comprises three goalkeepers, seven defenders, eight midfielders and five forwards.

The team travelled to Kyrgyzstan from the United Arab Emirates late October 20 (UAE time).

On the same day, the Asian Football Confederation announced changes in match schedule of Group I, which will be held in Bishkek city of Kyrgyzstan at 5pm (Vietnam time).

Vietnam will play Chinese Taipei on October 27 and Myanmar on November 2./.

JICA supports strengthening urban railway training capacity

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Ministry of Transport on October 20 signed a record of discussion for a project on strengthing the urban railway training capacity for the Railway College.

The project is expected to be carried out in four years from January 2022 to January 2026.

Under the project, curricula and training programmes on urban railway will be built along with guidelines for personnel training as well as enhancing knowledge on how to operate urban railways safely.

By acquiring Japan's experience in urban railway development, the Railway College will be upgraded, providing human resources that meet the safety requirements in railway operation, thus making Vietnamese people feel secure when using urban railways.

The project is expected to strengthen the capacity of developing a safe and convenient transportation network for people in urban areas, contributing to the sustainable economic development of Vietnam. It will also help promote the exchange between the people of the two countries, further tightening the friendship between Vietnam and Japan./.

Climate-Smart Maps and Adaptation Plans (CS-MAP) launched

To help farmers manage climate-related risks such as flooding, drought and saline intrusion, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development launched the Climate-Smart Maps and Adaption Plans (CS-MAP) on Tuesday.

CS-MAP integrates local knowledge and science-based research to provide location-specific risk maps and adaptation plans for rice production. The project currently covers five ecological regions of Việt Nam and was developed by the Ministry’s Crops Production Department and CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in Southeast Asia (CCAFS SEA). 

A conference for the launch of CS-MAPS was held in Hà Nội on Tuesday, organised by the Department of Crop Production (DCP) of CCAFS SEA. The socio-economic impact of the project at both a national and international level were discussed, as well as ways policy can be developed in support.

An instructional video and five atlases have been produced to help guide the use of CS-MAPS. Using colourful illustrations and animations, the video is an easy-to-understand and enjoyable reference to materials on CS-MAP.

DCP and CCAFS SEA have also published a guidebook, to help technical officers and professional agencies at different administrative levels implement CS-MAP.

Both the guidebook and instructional video are available in English and Vietnamese.

Five compilations of CS-MAP's, for the major agro-ecological regions of Việt Nam, were launched at the event. The CS-MAP atlases are for Mekong River Delta, Northern Midlands and Delta, South Central Coast and North Central Coast. 

These publications contain maps, both for normal and extreme years, covering 43 provinces of the country. All materials are publicly accessible on the CCAFS SEA's official Youtube channel and the CGSpace and CCAFS SEA websites.

Chairing policy dialogue on the use of CS-MAP on Tuesday, Deputy Minister of Agriculture Lê Quốc Doanh said that the CS-MAP publications would be helpful to farmers in planning production schemes and increase the efficiency of soil and water resource use.

Doanh said that Việt Nam's agriculture plays an important role in ensuring food security, social stability and livelihoods for over 60 per cent of the population in rural areas, contributing 14.85 per cent of the country's GDP.

Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and natural disasters, agriculture has maintained a high growth rate, ensuring food security for nearly 100 million people in Việt Nam in 2020.

Việt Nam’s agricultural export turnover reached US$41.53 billion, an increase of 3.3 per cent compared to 2019. Particularly in the first 9 months of this year, export of agricultural products reached $35.5 billion, up to 18 per cent over the same period last year. Of that, the export of crop products reached $15.8 billion.

“Việt Nam is deeply aware of the issue of climate change response and adaptation, turning the disadvantages of climate change into advantages. To carry out this task, we have been and will continue to focus on changing crop structures, changing seasons, selecting and creating plant varieties and applying appropriate technical advances,” Doanh said.

Nguyễn Như Cường, Head of the Crops Production Department, said that the CS-MAP can be integrated into national and local policies and plans, such as in the National Plan to Adapt to Climate Change, Nationally Determined Contribution to Climate Change Mitigation in the Agricultural Sector, and the National and Regional Agricultural Restructuring Plan for the Period 2021-2025.

At a local level, CS-MAP is a tool for climate change adaptation and disaster prevention. It is proposed that it be included in the socio-economic plan for the period 2021-2030, an action plan to respond to climate change for the period 2021-2030, and agricultural land use planning including rice land conversion, he said. 

Transport Ministry proposes easing conditions for air, railway passengers

Transport Ministry proposes easing conditions for air, railway passengers hinh anh 1

The Ministry of Transport has proposed easing conditions for air and railway passengers in its recent report sent to Deputy Prime Minister Le Van Thanh assessing the pilot resumption of passenger transport activities in the aviation and railway sectors to ensure safe and flexible adaptation as well as effective pandemic control.

The ministry suggested that from October 21, air and railway passengers are required to meet only one of the three conditions, either having certificates for full vaccination for at least 14 days and no later than 12 months before departure, or recovery from COVID-19 no later than six months before departure, or testing negative to SARS-CoV-2 using RT-PCR or rapid antigen testing methods no later than 72 hours before departure.

Earlier, air and rail passengers have been required to meeting either one of the first two conditions along with a negative test result no later than 72 hours before departure.

The ministry said it has built plans on restoring domestic flights in the period from October 21 – November 30 based on the outcomes of the pilot resumption of domestic flights from October 10-17.

Per the plan, a maximum of six flights each way daily will be allowed on the routes connecting Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi – Da Nang, and Da Nang – Ho Chi Minh City from October 21 – November 14, and the number will be raised to seven during November 15-30.

On other routes, the maximum will be four flights each way per day.

The frequency of flights by each airline on each route will be increase by one per day on November 1 and 15 if the average seat occupancy of all airlines on the route during the previous 7 days reached at least 75 percent.

For railways, from October 21, a maximum of four pairs of trains per day and night will be operated on the Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City route; one pair of trains/day and night each on the Hanoi-Vinh and Saigon-Da Nang routes; and a maximum of three pairs of trains/day and night on the Hanoi-Hai Phong route./.

Resolution 128 is important first step to live with new normal situation

The Government's Resolution No. 128 which is a very important first step to live with the so-called “new normal” situation, said Danish Commercial Counselor to Viet Nam Troels Jakobsen.

The Danish Commercial Counselor made the comment in an interview with a reporter of the Viet Nam Government Portal. 

As long as the implementation guidelines are national and there is not a different implementation from province to province and between localities the enterprises should have no obstacles in implementing the resolution. Important with a streamlined implementation from province to town.

Mr. Troels Jakobsen suggested that vaccination gives an advantage, this should apply when there is a case of Covid-19, so lockdowns are not forced on business costing the business and employees significant sums.

He suggested that likewise travel should be possible for vaccinated between Vietnamese cities without quarantine or medical self-monitoring especially between the very important Ha Noi – Ho Chi Minh City route.

For international travel business understand that one week of quarantine (for vaccinated) will apply for some time but it would be a great benefit for Viet Nam and make it easier to attract new international business if you did not need to apply for permission to come to Viet Nam if you have work permit/residence card, this is a very time consuming and burdensome process. I suggest that only a business visa is necessary.

The diplomat also proposed that a further and more clear process on treatment of F0, F1 cases in companies, hotels, flights and other public places would be appreciated.

Mr. Troels Jakobsen also supported the requirement in case of raising the pandemic assessment risk. Local authorities shall have to inform citizens and businesses at least 48 hours in advance./.

Resumption of 8 subsidized bus routes in HCMC proposed

The HCMC Management Center of Public Transport has proposed the municipal Department of Transport allow the resumption of eight subsidized bus routes passing through coach stations and hospitals in the city from October 25.

Specifically, five bus routes Nos. 14, 20, 27, 29 and 141 will offer 60 trips per day, while bus routes Nos. 65, 74 and 79 will operate 54 trips per day, the local media reported.

Bus route No. 74 will operate from 4:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Cu Chi Station and from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the An Suong Station. The other buses will operate from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A representative of the HCMC Management Center of Public Transport said the center would continue proposing resuming other bus routes based on the situation and demand in the areas concerned.

On October 5, the city resumed four bus routes in Can Gio District, including routes Nos. 77, 90, 127 and 128. After 15 days, the number of commuters on these routes remained low, following concerns over the pandemic transmission.

HCM City to close Covid-19 field hospitals by the year-end

HCM City has planned to stop the operations of 15 Covid-19 field hospitals from now until the end of this year.

The information was given by Le Thien Quynh Nhu, deputy head of the municipal Department of Health.  

By October 31, the city will close two Cu Chi field hospitals 2 and 3 and hospitals 1, 7 and 9.

The city will continue suspending field hospitals 2, 4, 10, 11 and 12 by November 23. Meanwhile, Cu Chi field hospital 1 and hospitals 3, 5, 6, and 8 should be shut by December 31.

However, the city has still maintained the operations of three intensive care centres for Covid-19 patients. The one set up by Vietnam-Germany Friendship Hospital will be taken over by the HCM City University of Medicine and Pharmacy and two others established by Bach Mai Hospital and Hue Central Hospital will be transferred to Gia Dinh People’s Hospital and People’s Hospital 115 respectively.

The intensive care centres will then be merged into field hospitals 13, 14, and 16 in the event that Covid-19 cases increase again.

Da Nang leads localities nationwide in digital transformation index

 The central city of Da Nang topped the Digital Transformation Index (DTI) rankings in 2020 for localities nationwide in all three key pillars of digital government, digital economy and digital society, according to the DTI 2020 Report, which was released at a conference in Hanoi on October 19.

The report was based on four major sources - data from reports of ministries, ministry-level agencies, Government-run agencies and centrally-run cities and provinces in 2020; data collected from people, entrepreneurs, State officials and public servants; experts’ assessments on digital transformation and information technology; and evaluation collected through the Internet under the supervision of the Ministry of Information and Communications.

According to the report, along with Da Nang, the top 10 cities and province in DTI 2020 rankings are Thua Thien-Hue, Bac Ninh, Quang Ninh, HCM City, Tien Giang, Can Tho, Ninh Binh, Kien Giang and Bac Giang.

In the rankings for ministries and ministry-level agencies, the Ministry of Finance was placed in the top position with 0.4944 points. It was followed by the State Bank of Vietnam (0.4932 points), Ministry of Planning and Investment (0.4701 points), Vietnam Social Security (0.4643 points), and Ministry of Health (0.4582 points).

So far, 12 out of 63 localities nationwide have issued their own resolutions on digital transformation. Meanwhile, 50 out of 92 ministries, ministry-level agencies, Government-run agencies and centrally-run cities and provinces have designed their programmes or plans for digital transformation in the 2021-2025 period.

Last year was the first year that the Ministry of Information and Communications had compiled the Digital Transformation Index of ministries, ministry-level agencies, Government-run agencies and centrally-run cities and provinces. It was also the first time that a survey had been conducted to collect data serving the work through website https://dti.gov.vn.

The report aimed to provide a panorama picture on the digital transformation situation in Vietnam in 2020, helping the ministries, agencies and localities design solutions to promote their digital transformation in the time to come./.

Int’l cooperation helps boost empowerment for female Vietnamese filmmakers

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Canadian and Swiss Embassies in Vietnam on October 19 held the webinar “IN HER VOICE”, discussing measures to promote gender equality and supporting female filmmakers in Vietnam.

The event aimed to analyse and discuss the opportunities and challenges of female filmmakers in the film industry; and share stories about the journeys to attend international film festivals, access to cinema support funds, and priority prizes for female filmmakers.

IN HER VOICE is part of the “E-MOTIONS project: Mobilising film professionals for regional cooperation” which is being conducted by UNESCO and cooperative partners, with the support from the Trust Fund of Japan. The project aims to enhance the capacity and empowerment of filmmakers, as well as organise activities to connect domestic filmmakers with their peers in the region.

Christian Manhart, UNESCO Representative in Vietnam, emphasised that the webinar is a great encouragement for filmmakers as the organizers listened to their opinions and introduce job opportunities to them./.

Poor female farmer helping other escape poverty through business entrepreneurship

Nguyen Thi Ha, 39, is a female farmer from Ban Lau Commune in the mountainous province of Lao Cai. She would be a typical example of a poor female farmer from the province, but she has successfully started up her own business that has helped her escape the clutches of poverty. 

Hà is now the owner of a farm with 76 buffaloes, 50 goats, hundreds of poultry and 17 pigs. She also plants two-hectares of cinnamon, tea, 1,200 jackfruit trees and 5,000 banana trees. The entrepreneurial Hà also runs a shop that supplies fertiliser to local residents.

She said she earned a profit of about VNĐ2 billion (US$88,000) each year, thanks to the Thịnh Phát Co-operative she and her husband set up in the commune in 2016.

The co-operative provides jobs for 14 local labourers with a salary of VNĐ5-9 million ($220-396) each month.

Hardworking from the off

Hà was born to a poor family in 1982. Her parents struggled to earn a sustainable living through farming.

After getting married, she realised that the income from growing rice and corn was not enough to raise her children, she said. She thought of how to escape poverty for a long time.

In 2008, when the province administration issued policies in support of local farmers, Ha decided to borrow VNĐ30 million ($1,322) from the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies, to buy buffaloes and pigs.

Hà participated in training courses, organised by the local Women's Union, to learn knowledge and gain experience. 

At first, she met many difficulties, including how to raise, feed and keep her herd of buffalo and pigs healthy, but thanks to her training courses she gradually overcame the difficulties.

Her buffaloes grazed on the hills and ate natural plants, meaning the quality of her meat was better than buffaloes raised on farms. She was not always about to meet the demand for her meat. 

After her initial success from raising buffaloes and pigs, Hà continued to borrow money from the bank to buy land to raise cinnamon, tea, jackfruit and banana in 2014. 

In 2016, she and her husband set up Thịnh Phát Co-operative and a shop to provide fertiliser for local farmers. 

Supporting others

Nông Thị Nghì, Chairwoman of the Women's Union in the commune, said Hà had also tried to support other poor female farmers in the commune to escape from poverty over the past years.

Seven poor local female farmers had borrowed around VNĐ10-20 million ($441-882) from Hà so far, without interest. Hà also shared her experiences in escaping poverty with women in the commune, Nghì said.

In 2020, Hà built a house, worth VNĐ50 million ($2,205), for a poor household in the commune. Hà’s also offered the woman of the household a job in her co-operative. 

Lù Thị Lan, of Na Mạ Village, said Hà offered her a job as a tea picker in Hà’s tea farm, with a monthly salary of VNĐ8 million ($352). This job was offered when Hà heard how Lan was struggling to earn living and raise her children.

“I’m so grateful for that,” Lan said.

Thanks to the income as a tea picker, Lan could raise her children and stabilise her daily life, she said.

In 2018, Hà lent local farmers more than 2,000 tonnes of fertiliser to grow pineapples. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the farmers had yet to pay the money back to Hà, Nghì said.

Hà extended the time to pay the money back and continued providing fertiliser for the farmers.

Hà has received a certificate of merit from the provincial Women’s Union for her outstanding achievements in the “Lào Cai Women start-up” in 2020.

Also in 2020, Thịnh Phong Co-operative was awarded a certificate for being an outstanding example in the province between 2016-2020.

Hà said, “I always thought that if I work hard enough, I could change my life.” 

Areas with low risk of Covid-19 can provide direct education

Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training directed that areas with low risk of Covid-19 can provide direct education.

In its document to people’s committees in cities and provinces, the Ministry said that localities with low risk of Covid-19 can provide direct learning and strengthen infrastructure and devices in preparation for distance learning if the pandemic develops complicatedly.

In the implementation of the Resolution No. 128/NQ-CP of the Government on temporary regulations "safely adapting, flexibly, effectively controlling the Covid-19 epidemic", the Ministry of Education and Training proposed provinces and cities review their situations in the areas for direct classes for safety at educational institutions and administration of vaccine to teachers and students.

School managers of educational institutions which had been used for concentration treatment facilities were urged to repair and disinfect classrooms for welcoming students back.

Municipal and provincial people's committees were proposed to direct departments of education and training to review the situation of teachers and staff of schools after the epidemic.

Moreover, people’s committees were asked to classify the risk level of Covid-19 occurrence for the decision of direct education or distance education. For areas with a low risk of Covid-19 can provide direct learning as well as prepare for distance education when the pandemic develops complexly.

For areas with a high risk of Covid-19, local authorities should organize face-to-face teaching in combination with online and television teaching. Direct learning will be given priority to first, second, sixth, ninth, and twelfth grades.

The Ministry of Education and Training also suggested that people's committees in provinces and cities should instruct higher education institutions and pedagogical colleges on how to carry out direct training activities in compliance with the regulations on safety to prevent and control the Covid-1 epidemic.

In areas with a higher risk of Covid-19, training institutions continue to organize online teaching or combine face-to-face and online teaching depending on schools’ specific plans which people's committees have approved.

Local administrations need to direct the education sector to work with the health sector in the administration of vaccines against Covid-19 under the Ministry of Health’s guidelines.

The Ministry of Education and Training has also given specific instructions on ensuring safety for the prevention and control of the Covid-19 epidemic in preschools, general education and continuing education institutions. Moreover, it required educational institutions to follow regulations on the safety and prevention of the Covid-19 epidemic.

In its document to the People's Committee of outlying district Can Gio, the City Department of Education and Training allowed students of grades 1, 2, 6, 9, 12 to study and live directly at educational institutions in Thanh An island commune from October 20, 2021, upon the agreement between the Department of Education and Training and the Department of Health.

Accordingly, each individual and department must verify their responsibilities and tasks if there are suspected cases of Covid-19 while learning at schools.

In addition, educational institutions must monitor sources of infection from outside as well as mobilize locally available resources to take care of disadvantaged children by giving them studying items and accommodation.

Previously, Vice Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee Duong Anh Duc and representatives of the Departments of Education and Training and the Department of Health had a meeting with two schools in Thanh An island commune on the preparation of direct teaching for grades 1, 2, 6, 9 and 12 on October 18.

At the meeting, representatives of the two schools said that they had developed a plan to ensure safety against epidemics when reopening schools. Accordingly, all teachers and staff of the two schools have received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

In addition, most participating parents expressed support for face-to-face education whereas some parents have not agreed to send their children back to school for fear that their unvaccinated children can contract the illness.

Short films about Vietnamese beauty screened on YouTube

As many as 60 short films featuring a variety of attractive locations nationwide are being screened on the YouTube channel Vietnamsunday.

According to Vietnamese producer Chung Lan, the short films have been made by numerous young filmmakers, all of whom are majoring in film and architecture in both Vietnam and abroad. All of them share the same desire to introduce the country’s array of beauty and cultural identity to both local and international friends.

Lan added that each of the short films lasts between three to 15 minutes long and can be viewed with English subtitles.

Moving forward, the film crew expects to produce approximately 120 other short films by the end of the year.

President Ho Chi Minh’s letters with wish for peace published in Italian

Anteo Edizioni Publishing House in Italy’s Reggio Emilia city has recently published the work “Ho Chi Minh voi nhung buc thu mong muon hoa binh cho Viet Nam” (Ho Chi Minh with letters wishing for peace for Vietnam).

This is the result of a translation project into Italian language from the original Vietnamese version of the same name by Sandra Scagliotti, a researcher on Vietnam, and Tran Doan Trang, an overseas Vietnamese in Italy.

Previously, in May 2020, the Su That (Truth) National Political Publishing House published the original Vietnamese version by Dr. Nguyen Anh Minh, who collected and selected President Ho Chi Minh's letters written from 1945 to 1969 during the resistance wars against French colonialists and American imperialists.

The letters were sent by the Vietnamese revolutionary leader to the Presidents of France and the US as well as many politicians, soldiers, prisoners, immigrants, young people, and relatives of soldiers. In those letters, Ho Chi Minh expressed his wish for peace and happiness for all nations, laid bare and condemned war crimes caused by French colonialists and American imperialists, and called on people around the world to support the just struggle of the Vietnamese people.

Sandra Scagliotti said the messages in President Ho Chi Minh's letters left a deep impression on many generations of young people in Europe in the 60s and 70s of the last century.

According to her, for Italians who support peace and progress, Vietnam has been truly an example of the nations in the struggle against domination and oppression in the world./.

HCM City announces tourism recovery plan


The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism recently announced a three-phase plan to restore the local tourism industry and adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city will open intra-regional tourism activities and pilot welcoming visitors from other localities in the first phase, which will last until October 31. Accommodation facilities and tourist attractions are to operate at 50 percent of capacity.

In the second phase, from November 1 to December 31, the city plans to open intra-regional and inter-provincial tourism activities and allow lodging facilities to expand their operations, at a maximum capacity of 70 percent. It also will consider opening more services such as on-site catering and spas.

The third phase will be carried out in 2022, with all tourism activities in full operation.

The tourism department is also offering 100,000 tourism vouchers for frontline forces in the fight against COVID-19./. 

Vietnam welcomes US’s practical assistance for Mekong nations: ambassador

Vietnam welcomes the US Government’s strong commitment and practical actions to strengthen its cooperation with and support for Mekong countries, notably the donation of millions of doses of vaccines and many medical equipment serving COVID-19 prevention and control in the region, said a Vietnamese official.

At a virtual opening ceremony of a conference under the Mekong-US Partnership Track 1.5 Policy Dialogue, Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Ha Kim Ngoc lauded the rapid growth of the partnership over the past time. The conference, themed energy and infrastructure, gathers more than 130 representatives of the sides and a number of other partners.

In his speech, Ngoc affirmed that energy and infrastructure are always a high priority in cooperation among Mekong countries in particular and ASEAN member states in general, which is important to help narrow the development gap.

The diplomat suggested that the US and Mekong countries continue to attach importance to their cooperation in the fields, especially in post-pandemic recovery efforts.

He hoped there will be high-quality US projects implemented in the Mekong sub-region.

Reaffirming the nation’s strong commitment to the region and the importance of the Mekong-US Partnership, US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel J. Kritenbrink said that in the coming time, the US will continue to coordinate with Mekong nations and other partners to implement agreed plans and projects.

The US will coordinate with Japan to provide technical support for the development of renewable energy and cross-border electricity trade, and to improve energy markets, promote a pilot project to build an energy storage system in Vietnam, and another project on electric vehicle development in Thailand.

Participants discussed orientations for sustainable energy and infrastructure development in the Mekong sub-region, ensuring socio-economic goals, and improving the capacity to adapt to climate change.

They also mentioned such challenges as differences between countries' legal regulations, lack of coordination in the implementation of some hydropower projects, and increasingly complicated climate change.

The event is the second in a series of Mekong-US Partnership Track 1.5 Policy Dialogue conferences slated for 2021 – 2023./.

Auditor General: SAV accomplishes ASOSAI Chairmanship for 2018-2021

State Auditor General Tran Sy Thanh has affirmed that the State Audit Office of Vietnam (SAV) has successfully fulfilled its role as Chair of the Asian Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI) for the 2018-2021 tenure.

During a conference in Hanoi on October 19 reviewing the SAV’s ASOSAI Chairmanship for 2018-2021 and the 15th Assembly of the Asian Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI 15), Thanh said the SAV took the lead together with ASOSAI’s members in directing supreme audit institutions (SAIs) to follow ASOSAI’s important agenda with outstanding results.

After the Hanoi Declaration “Environmental Audit for Sustainable Development” was adopted at the ASOSAI 14, the SAV strived to deliver on commitments in the document, he said.

The SAV also actively worked with the National Audit Office of China – ASOSAI Secretary General, members of the ASOSAI’s Governing Board, committees and working groups to promote the successful implementation of the ASOSAI strategic plan for the 2016-2021 period, towards building a professional, dynamic and creative ASOSAI which is ready to cope with challenges and emerging issues in the region and the world.

It also initiated the making of documentary film “ASOSAI for sustainable development” which was screed at ASOSAI 15, and attended many important international forums, during which it delivered reports on the role of SAIs in the transparency of public finance, improving accountability, effectively using national budget, enhancing the fight against corruption and improving the quality of human resources.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020, the SAV actively chaired and attended over 80 online meetings, training courses and seminars within the framework of the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), ASOSAI and ASEANSAI, most notably the virtual 55th meeting of the ASOSAI”s Governing Board chaired by the SAV which was highly welcomed by ASOSAI.

At the ASOSAI 15, the SAV transferred its ASOSAI chairmanship to the State Audit Office of Thailand.

As a member of the ASOSAI’s Governing Board for the 2021-2024 tenure, the SAV pledges to play an active, proactive and responsible role to continue upholding its stature in ASOSAI and the world communities, Thanh said./.

HCM City discusses COVID-19 vaccination plan for children

The HCM City Department of Health is seeking directions from the city People’s Committee on vaccinating children against COVID-19.

Multiple topics on pandemic prevention and control in HCM City, particularly vaccinations for children between 12 and 17 years old, were discussed at a meeting on the evening of October 18.

According to deputy head of HCM City’s Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control Phạm Đức Hải, after receiving specific details on what type of vaccine to use, and how and when to vaccinate, the city Department of Health will complete the report and send it to the People’s Committee for official planning.  

“The vaccination plan will follow the instructions from the Ministry of Health,” Hải said.

Speaking at the meeting, Hải praised the support from authorities and neighbouring provinces in helping HCM City fight the pandemic. 

In response to concerns on HCM City’s future outbreak possibilities, authorities will assess the rate of new cases in the community, vaccination coverage, and medical facilities’ capacity to treat patients. 

Four levels will be used to classify pandemic levels, including low, medium, high and very high risk. Each locality will draft response measures depending on the level of the epidemic, deputy executive director of the city Centre for Disease Control Nguyễn Hồng Tâm said.

Tâm said that the government has prepared plans to deal with each pandemic situation.

With regards to the reopening of on-site catering services, Nguyễn Nguyên Phương, deputy director of the HCM City Department of Industry and Trade, said that the city aims to allow operations of all types of service activities as long as safety is ensured.

Relevant authorities will consider every factor, especially risks, and advise HCM City leaders to have certain activities open in the near future.

Although the HCM City Steering Committee of COVID-19 Prevention and Control said that locals would like food services to resume normal activities, Directive 18 does not allow on-site dining.

Restaurants with customers dining on the spot are in violation of regulations and will be sanctioned.

The committee hopes that locals will be patient and strictly abide by the city’s guidelines and regulations on epidemic prevention and control.

Meanwhile, Nguyễn Văn Lâm, deputy director of the city Department of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs, said the third phase of sending out funds from the government support package ended on October 15.

The city has supported five million people financially. About 1.5 million people who have not received subsidies are those staying in neighboring provinces, hospitals or isolation zones.

The Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs received approval from the city People’s Committee to extend the support period until October 22.

If new cases are detected, HCM City will continue to offer support, Lâm said.

According to data from the management board of Industrial Parks and Hi-Tech Parks in HCM City, the number of workers returning to HCM City has increased by about 135,000 people, mostly from the Central Highlands.

At the meeting, deputy chief of the HCM City Department of Health’s office Lê Thiện Quỳnh Như also seek People’s Committee’s approval for hospitals to deploy the three-stage treatment model.

Specifically, various hospitals in HCM City will take over the resuscitation centre of the Việt Nam - German Friendship Hospital.

While Gia Định People’s Hospital will take over resuscitation duties of Bạch Mai Hospital, 115 People’s Hospital will take over that of Huế Central Hospital.

A number of COVID-19 treatment hospitals in HCM City plan to close.

By the end of this month, five hospitals will shut down, including Củ Chi Hospital 2 and 3 and the COVID-19 treatment hospitals 1, 7 and 9.

By November 30, another five hospitals, namely 2, 4, 10, 11 and 12, will close, followed by Củ Chi Hospital 1 and hospitals with COVID-19 treatment 3, 5, 8 on December 31.

Soldiers serving Ho Chi Minh Trail at Sea make legendary feats, sacrifices: President

Feats and brave sacrifices of officers and soldiers serving Ho Chi Minh Trail at Sea have become immortal, becoming a legend for the next generation to admire, respect, and be proud of, stressed President Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Phuc made his statement while receiving veterans, who took part in the historical trail, and representatives of the Vietnam People’s Navy in Hanoi on October 19. The gathering was to mark the 60th anniversary of Ho Chi Minh Trail at Sea.

The State leader affirmed that the opening of the trail demonstrated the strategic vision, creativity, wisdom and ingenuity of the Party and President Ho Chi Minh, making an important contribution to improving the nation’s combat capacity and creating a new development step for the Southern revolution at the time.

Phuc noted the sea is not only a living space but also a sacred territory of the nation.

He also emphasised the need to continue to fully protect Vietnam’s sovereignty over its sea and islands in all situations; maintain an environment of peace and stability at sea for national development; and settle disagreements and disputes by peaceful means in line with the Party and State's policy and stance, and Vietnamese law and international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The President wished each veteran to continue promoting the tradition and being an example of revolutionary heroism, courage, iron will, and relentless efforts to build the country toward prosperity.

The Ho Chi Minh Trail at Sea was set up on October 23, 1961 to help with the transportation of weapons from the North to aid the southern liberation army.

During the resistance war against the US imperialists, the route was considered a “true legend” and a miracle of the Vietnamese nation, contributing to the 1975 spring victory./.

Vietnamese photographer honoured at International Photography Awards 2021

Vietnamese photographer Viet Van from the Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper was among the Honorable Mentions given out by the International Photography Awards (IPA) 2021.

His photo themed “Red Ball” was duly honoured in the special section of the professional category.

The awards’ category is specifically for professional photographers who snap stunning images which make use of technical effects.

This marks the 10th time that Viet Van has been given an Honorable Mention at the prestigious IPA photo contest.

The winners of the IPA 2021 include “Photographer of the year” in the professional category and “Discovery of the year” in the non-professional category, both of which will be announced on October 26 with cash prizes of 10,000 USD and 5,000 USD, respectively./.

Vietnam, Nicaragua hold political consultation

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung and his Nicaraguan counterpart Arlette Marenco convened the two nations’ first deputy foreign ministerial political consultation on October 19 via video conference.

Informed the Nicaraguan side about Vietnam’s political, socio-economic situation; response to COVID-19; and policy on external relations, Deuty Minister Dung stated Vietnam wants to strengthen its friendship and cooperation with Nicaragua on the basis of their traditional solidarity and amity; their sharing of basic principles of international relations; and their common interests in national development.

 

He also praised the good traditional relationship between the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) of Nicaragua.

For her part, Arlette Marenco lauded Vietnam’s achievements in COVID-19 prevention and control and socio-economic development.

Nicaragua wants to foster friendship and multifaceted collaboration with Vietnam based on the countries’ sound relations, she stated.

The two officials agreed that the two sides should closely work together to maintain the growth momentum of the ties and facilitate mutual visits at all levels.

They said the two foreign ministries will flexibly and effectively deploy their political consultation mechanism; promote dialogue and connection between the nations’ ministries, sectors and businesses; create a legal framework for trade and investment promotion; and encourage bilateral cooperation in potential areas.

The sides discussed international and regional matters of common concern and agreed to further support each other at international organisations and multilateral forums of which both countries are members, particularly the UN./.

Party official meets new chiefs of Vietnamese representative agencies abroad

Head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for External Relations Le Hoai Trung held a working session in Hanoi on October 19 with heads of Vietnamese representative agencies abroad who were appointed for the 2021-2024 tenure this year.

He talked with them about Vietnam’s external work and orientations to improving its efficiency in the pillars of Party’s external relations, State and people-to-people diplomacy, towards performing the external policy set by the 13th National Party Congress.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung expressed appreciation to close and effective coordination between the Party Central Committee’s Commission for External Relations and the Foreign Ministry over the past years.

He affirmed that chiefs of Vietnamese representative agencies will fulfil their assigned tasks.

Participants at the event also discussed ways to continue bolstering ties between political parties and people’s organisations in countries in the near future./. 

Health Minister: vaccine strategy successful in three aspects

Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long has affirmed that Vietnam’s vaccine strategy has been a success in three aspects.

Presenting a report on COVID-19 prevention and control and the implementation of the Resolution No.30/2021/QH15 during a meeting of the National Assembly’s Committee on Social Affairs in Hanoi on October 19, Long said Vietnam has so far signed contracts and agreements for 191 million vaccine doses, which will increase more in the near future, thus ensuring full vaccination for people at and above 18 as well as aged 12-17.

The second aspect is the research and production of COVID-19 vaccines and medicine. According to the minister, since very early, Vietnam has actively worked to access transfer of vaccine production technologies from the US, Russia, China and Cuba while promoting domestic research vaccines, so as to avoid the impacts of disuption in the global supply of medical equipment, medicine and vaccines. 

The third aspect is the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, which is the largest of its kind ever in the country. Long said the ministry is urging localities to accelerate the vaccination pace, stressing that vaccine coverage is very important to re-opening and the plan on safely and flexibly adapting to the pandemic. 

About vaccinations for children, especially those below 12, the minister said caution is needed because all vaccines were developed in a very short time so there is not enough time to assess all of the vaccines' impacts.

Long also stressed that under the Politburo's conclusion on vaccination, the Government has so far been responsible for ensuring enough vaccines for residents free of charge. The Health Ministry is also preparing for plans to offer booster shots, based on international practice and guidance of the World Health Organisation.

As for treatment medicine, in accordance with the Resolution No.30/2021/QH15 and the Resolution No.86/NQ-CP, the Government has allowed enterprises to import materials before applying for production in order to stay proactive in COVID-19 medicine supply in the future, he said.

At the event, the minister also gave explanation on some issues regarding the fight against the pandemic and the implementation of the NA’s Resolution No.30/2021/QH15./. 

Vietnam Buddhist Sangha aids Lao monks amid COVID-19

The Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS) on October 19 presented to the Lao Buddhist Coalition Central Committee five tonnes of rice and 500 boxes of instant noodle to help Lao monks overcome difficulties caused by COVID-19.

On behalf of the VBS, Venerable Thich Minh Quang, head monk of the Phat Tich Pagoda in Vientiane, handed over the essential goods at the ceremony.

Venerable Thich Minh Quang said the amount of goods is half of the total worth 120 million LAK (11,846 USD) donated by Vietnamese Buddhist followers to Laos this time, with the remaining earmarked for Luang Prabang province.

Most Venerable Bounma Simaphome, acting president of the Lao Buddhist Coalition Central Committee, thanked the VBS as well as the Vietnamese Buddhists in Laos for having supported and shared the difficulties with Lao monks, especially in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said this is the second time this year, the VBS has granted the assistance for Lao Buddhists given Laos’ prolonged lockdown orders. This reflects the special friendship and solidarity between the two sanghas and the two nations, he affirmed.
Vietnam Buddhist Sangha aids Lao monks amid COVID-19 hinh anh 2
At the handover ceremony in Luang Prabang(Photo: VNA)

Earlier, on October 18, the first half of the VBS donation was presented to Lao monks in Luang Prabang, which houses many ancient pagodas./.

Aviation authority proposes full resumption of domestic air routes from December

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam has proposed the Ministry of Transport permit airlines to resume domestic air routes as normal from December if the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled well nationwide.
VNA Tuesday, October 19, 2021 19:05 

The authority has submitted a draft plan on the operation of domestic flights between October 21 and November 30 after 10 days of the trial reopening of domestic air routes.

It suggested that the flight frequency on the routes of Hanoi - Da Nang, Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang - HCM City for each airline should not be over 10 percent higher than the average that carrier operated in the first week of April 2021, before the fourth wave of infections began.

Within 15 days since the implementation of the plan, it will assess the pandemic situation in each locality and nationwide to work out an appropriate plan on flight frequency.

The authority also suggested the requirement for keeping distance on planes be removed, which has also been repeatedly urged by airlines recently./. 

HCM City to build 1 million units of affordable housing for low-income workers

Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Phan Van Mai said the city plans to build one million units of affordable housing for low-income workers.

The Department of Construction is working with the Department of Natural Resources and Environment to review statistics of the State's social housing land fund and has reported back to the City People’s Committee.

The fourth wave of COVID-19 clearly exposed the reality that workers live in large numbers in very small areas. This has had a great impact on the emotional life of the workers.

The city's leaders have recognised the urgent need to build social housing suited to the income of migrant workers.

"Migrant workers play a very important role in the economic and social development of the city, but the city currently does not take care of their lives well enough. In the coming time, the city will have better support policies and benefits for workers," Mai said.

The city has implemented many projects to build social housing for workers in Linh Trung I, Linh Trung II, and Tan Thuan export processing zones, Tan Tao Industrial Park, and in new industrial zones.

According to data from the Department of Construction, from the end of 2019 until now, the city has implemented 15 housing projects for workers, equivalent to an area of 47ha.

However, this number is still too small compared to the housing needs of millions of migrant workers in the city.

The biggest difficulty in building social housing for workers is the lack of capital and land./. 

Cho Ray hospital receives US-funded gene sequencing machine

The Cho Ray hospital in Ho Chi Minh City on October 19 received one of the two Illumina gene sequencing machines funded by the US for Vietnam.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Robert Greenan, acting US Consul General in HCM City, said that during the COVID-19 crisis, the two countries have supported each other. Vietnam has sent millions of personal protective equipment to the people of the US, while the US has donated 9.5 million doses of vaccines, more than 100 ventilators, and equipment and laboratory supplies, among others, to Vietnam.

The diplomat stated the handover of the machine to Cho Ray Hospital has a special meaning, as results of analysing virus genetic information with such device can help scientists develop more effective vaccines to protect Vietnamese and American people.

Greenan affirmed that the US commits to supporting Vietnamese people in their fight against COVID-19. The US diplomatic mission in Vietnam will continue to lobby for more vaccines to be distributed to the nation until there are enough doses for everyone who wants to be vaccinated, he noted.

Nguyen Tri Thuc, director of the hospital, thanked the US Government for assisting the establishment’s pandemic prevention and control work. He informed that the number of severe cases of COVID-19 treated here has so far dropped sharply.

According to Truong Thien Phu, head of the hospital’s microbiology department, the machine will be very useful for the facility’s research activities.

The second machine will be handed over to the Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi./.

Vaccines used for children to be researched, considered thoroughly: ministry

The Ministry of Health plans to conduct vaccinations against COVID-19 for children aged 12-17 in late October, with those aged 16 - 17 to get the shots first.

At present, the ministry has not decided which vaccine to choose yet, but will use vaccines that have been thoroughly researched and are safe for children. In addition, it will consult all studies in the world to apply, in order to create the best conditions for all vaccines applied to children in Vietnam.

The inoculation process will depend on the vaccine supply and the pandemic situation in each locality, the ministry said.

Prof. Dang Duc Anh, Director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, said that there are currently two vaccines that can be given to children, namely the vaccine of Pfizer, which is given to children aged 12-18, and that of Sinopharm which can be given to children from 3 years of age and older as recommended by the producer.

Currently, the health sector is carrying out guidelines or plans to launch an vaccination drive for children as soon as possible.

According to Dr Kidong Park, World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative in Vietnam, WHO recommends that children with severe chronic diseases can be vaccinated against COVID-19 if there is enough supply.

Vietnam is now home to over 8.1 million children aged between 12-17. According to statistics of the health sector, there are more than 20,000 under-15 children with COVID-19 being treated at medical facilities nationwide, not to mention those who have no symptoms, or have mild illness only and are being treated at home./.

Disadvantaged ethnic minority students in HCM City receive free tablets

The Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee of Ho Chi Minh City in collaboration with the municipal Committee for Ethnic Affairs and People’s Public Security newspaper on October 19 presented 90 tablets to support the studying of Cham and Khmer ethnic students in difficult circumstances in the city.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Phan Kieu Thanh Huong, Vice Chairwoman of the city's Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee, said that there are a large number of disadvantaged ethnic minority students, including Cham and Khmer ones, in the city.

The donation of tablets to Cham and Khmer students in the city is timely care, ensuring online learning for them amid the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.

Huong and representatives of sponsoring units gave tablets to 14 students of the Cham and Khmer ethnic groups at the event. The Vietnam Fatherland Front Committees of districts and Thu Duc city are assigned to present the remaining tablets to students in their locality along with other school equipment./.

Unemployment insurance fund supports 1.7 million pandemic-hit workers

More than 1.7 million workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have received assistance from the unemployment insurance fund as of October 19, according to the Vietnam Social Security (VSS).

Benefiting from total aid of 4.087 trillion VND (180.6 million USD), they include 1.51 million people currently participating in unemployment insurance and 200,000 others who already stopped making contributions to the insurance fund.

The relief provision is to implement the Government’s Resolution No. 116/NQ-CP and the Prime Minister’s Decision No 28/QD-TTg on support for workers and employers affected by the pandemic.

The VSS has also confirmed more than 1.94 million workers who will benefit from different support policies in the time ahead./.

War-time bomb in Quang Tri safely handled

A bomb disposal team of PeaceTrees Vietnam has safely transported and defused a bomb left from war in the central province of Quang Tri, the unit announced on October 19. 

The MK-82 bomb has a diameter of 274mm, measuring 1.54m in length and weighing 227kg. 

It was discovered following a landslide triggered by heavy rains in Huong Phung commune of the province’s Huong Hoa district. 
Quang Tri is the most polluted locality in Vietnam in terms of unexploded ordnance (UXO), which are scattered over 81 percent of its land area and have killed over 3,430 people and injured 5,100 during peacetime./.

Heroic story of nurses joining COVID-19 fight in hotspot

A number of female healthcare workers are unable to forget some of the sensational stories from their time volunteering in the battle against COVID-19 in Ho Chi Minh City, the epicentre of the nation’s recent pandemic outbreak.

Several weeks ago, doctors from the Central Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion based in Hanoi were deployed in order to assist their colleagues in the south. Among them were female doctors and nurses who said farewell to their relatives as they departed to join frontline forces in various COVID-19 hotspots without knowing exactly when they would be returning home.

Chu Thi Hong Anh, a nurse at the Department of Stem Cell Transplantation, lives with her husband and their small baby. She recalls that she received great support from her husband before volunteering to head south.

“When I told my husband, he supported the idea and assured me that he would try his best to take care of the baby at home,” Anh says, “That helped ease my worry at first.”

Upon arriving in Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s largest COVID-19 hotspot, Anh and her colleagues were plunged into a real COVID-19 war, with shifts taking place around the clock and requiring intense work. Donning personal protective clothes, they worked continuously in an intensive care unit (ICU) hospital for seven hours at a time every day without meals or any water.

“On the first day, I was a bit nervous but then quickly kept up with the tempo. Despite its hard work, the most important thing is to save patients’ lives,” says nurse Pham Thu Hien of the Department of Stem Cell Transplantation.  

Hien recalls that she was saddened when many critically-ill patients went on to die due to the virus. Each day she received young patients and pregnant women whose  courage to battle against COVID-19 serves to motivate her and other healthcare workers to strive hard to ultimately beat the virus.

“I saw with my own eyes a number of sensational stories in which a doctor failed to save his mother’s life from COVID-19, or a male doctor died of COVID-19 during his treatment alongside his wife, another doctor,” says Hien, “If you ask whether I experience any emotions, I must say it is really immeasurable.”

Many severely-ill patients were relying on mechanical ventilation to help them to breath and were only able to stay in one place. They did not have any family members, but medical staff were close at hand to both encourage and take care of them. Even when the patients were close to death, it was up to the doctors and nurses to see them off on the last road to their permanent resting place.

On the bright side, the efforts put in by local healthcare workers was rewarded when seeing their patients recovering each day. Many critically-ill patients responded fairly well to treatment and were later discharged from ICUs to other departments in order to receive normal treatment.

“For me, the most emotional moment was watching a pregnant woman at 25 weeks rely on mechanical ventilation. This patient then recovered and was transferred to another ward for normal treatment,” said Anh, sharing her emotions of the event.

With the latest outbreak in Ho Chi Minh City now showing signs of abating, volunteer doctors are returning to the north in order to resume their normal life and work.

“We are confident that the prolonged COVID-19 outbreak will come to an end soon, but we are ready to take on a new mission away whenever we are requested,” says Anh.

Students in Thanh An Commune return to school

Students in grades 1, 2, 6, 9 and 12 at Thạnh An Primary School and Thạnh An Secondary and High School in HCM City's Cần Giờ District returned to school today (October 20).

Yesterday, the city’s department of Education allowed students in Thạnh An island commune, Cần Giờ District to return to in-school instruction.

The students are required to comply with the ministry’s 5k requirements - khẩu trang (face masks), khử khuẩn (disinfection), khoảng cách (distancing), không tụ tập (no gatherings), and khai báo y tế (health declarations).

Cần Giờ District has been evaluated as having "basically contained the pandemic" since early September.

Thạnh An Commune has had no new community-transmitted COVID cases since Sept. 12.

Awareness is key to keeping safe in Hanoi in the new normal: experts

Experts believe that when Hà Nội gradually moves to the “new normal” after COVID-19 outbreaks, citizens’ awareness is the most important factor to prevent the pandemic from spreading again.

Hà Nội Centre for Diseases Control (CDC) on Saturday night reported 12 new cases of COVID-19, and 10 of them had come from COVID-19-affected areas.

Last Thursday, a number of activities and services in Hà Nội re-opened after the pandemic was brought under control, including buses, taxis, museums, parks, hotels and restaurants. The services had been temporarily halted for more than three months.

Khổng Minh Tuấn, deputy director of the Hà Nội CDC, told the Dân Việt newspaper that other provinces and cities across the country had gradually re-opened for the new normal situation.

The fact that Hà Nội may have new cases is something that could be predicted in advance.

“It is important that the new cases are supervised and tested immediately. It depends on people’s awareness. If they use airlines, all passenger lists will be supervised. But at present, many others travel by other means and ignore medical declarations when returning to their hometown, it poses a high risk for the community,” he said.

Authorities at different levels created the best conditions for citizens when not requiring them to quarantine in concentrated facilities, thus people should stay aware of self-quarantine at home and making medical declarations. 

Tuấn advised people to follow guidance about quarantine at home and make medical declarations to avoid spreading the pandemic to their families and the community.

Agreeing with Tuấn, associate professor Nguyễn Huy Nga, former director of the General Department of Preventive Medicine under the Ministry of Health, told Dân Việt newspaper that the occurrence of new cases, or unvaccinated cases returning from affected areas, will pose a risk of spreading the virus if preventive measures are not well implemented.

Those could affect children or vaccinated people who have weak resistance and elderly people, leading to new outbreaks, he said.

Nga added that it would not be as critical as in HCM City and southern provinces because nearly all people in Hà Nội had received the first dose of vaccine, and 50-60 per cent of them had received the second dose.

The new normal situation would lead to new outbreaks, but would not affect the capital city’s work in pandemic prevention and control, he said.

“People returning from pandemic-affected areas must strictly follow preventive measures. Violators must receive a penalty. Municipal authorities should closely supervise people coming from different areas,” said Nga.

Directive 18 covers regulations in Govt’s Resolution 128: HCMC Chairman

HCMC has yet to issue a general plan to adopt the Government’s Resolution 128 on “safely and flexibly adapting to and effectively controlling Covid-19” as many regulations in the resolution were already integrated into the city’s Directive 18 on the gradual economic recovery, said HCMC Chairman.

Speaking at the third session of the 10th HCMC People’s Council today, October 19, HCMC Chairman Phan Van Mai said the city issued a plan to control the pandemic and help the economy recover based on the Government’s draft guidance on safely and flexibly adapting to and effectively controlling Covid-19.

As such, the city’s Directive 18 basically covers the general content of Resolution 128, the HCMC chairman said.

The HCMC government is working to summarize the results of the fight against the fourth wave of the pandemic and will issue a general anti-pandemic solution in October, Mai said.

The city will promote the healthcare system focusing on treatment and recovery to promptly respond to the risk of diseases, the local media reported.

As for support for firms, the leader of the municipal government said that it is necessary to focus on three factors–working capital, administrative reforms and investment climate improvement.

The city will support both major enterprises active in production and export and small and medium firms that have been hit hard during the lockdown period.

At the session, Le Minh Tan, director of the HCMC Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, said that the fourth wave of the pandemic, which began in late April, had left many severe consequences.

Some 2,000 children were turned into orphans due to Covid, while 381 old people were forced to live alone as the disease had killed their caregivers.

The municipal department has proposed the HCMC government provide long-term mental and material support to the elderly and orphans due to Covid-19.

HCMC adjusting inadequacies in urban planning after Covid-19 outbreak
 
The latest outbreak of Covid-19 has revealed various inadequacies in the urban architectural of Ho Chi Minh City, asking for an immediate correction to the current project ‘Adjustments for HCMC General Planning until 2040, with a Vision to 2060’. SGGP Newspaper has conducted an interview with Director of the HCMC Department of Planning and Architecture Nguyen Thanh Nha about this aspect.

Commenting on the inadequacies of the urban architectural in HCMC exposed lately, Director Nguyen Thanh Nha said that being a long-developed urban area, the city still enjoys a stable growth. Certain planning directions such as the relocation of polluted industrial parks to the suburban areas or the resettlement of dense residential areas along channels are truly effective. When the outbreak happened suddenly, it is these planning activities that have helped reduce infection rate.

However, in the upcoming time, the city needs to balance planning goals in each specific area, especially slum houses along channels, to allocate proper resources for urban renovation and architectural upgrades.

There is also a necessity to redefine urban zones according to their natures and characteristics, not so much to their administrative boundaries, which has obviously led to inadequacies. For instance, the planning for public facilities and tree growing in District 1 and 3 is the same, yet the amount of free space for the latter purpose in District 3 is not enough while District 1 has already owned surplus green space.

Another noticeable fact is that residential areas along channels belonging to several districts used to be included in different planning projects, resulting in inconsistency. Now with the new zoning based on characteristics, there is no longer overlaps.

Since the HCMC master planning plays a great role in the city’s general development and a legal basis for local or zone planning to boost investment efficiency, this planning adjustment project is expected to release social resources and speed up the city growth.

The arrangement of zones in HCMC will be considered carefully in relation with public traffic planning for better land uses. The new zones will then help to renovate and upgrade existing ones which are not yet safe and have not met land use quotas for social and technical infrastructure. This will, in turn, offer a chance for overall urban re-arrangement in the city.

Discussing measures to cope with climate changes in the planning adjustment, the Director stressed that climate change is one factor, alongside population growth and traffic facilities, to be considered in the project. The scenario development has taken into account the integration of sectoral planning, traffic planning, and urban flooding prevention as well as the inclusion of urban space models for synchronous urban zones. It has corrected inconsistency in its previous versions like traffic planning without consideration of local drainage systems.

The Prime Minister, as well as the Government, when approving this project has shown the stance that socio-economic development in HCMC must go along with environment protection, climate change adaptation, new synchronization, and urban beautification.

Talking about the proposal to build affordable houses in already planned urban areas like Northwest Cu Chi urban area or Hiep Phuoc Port urban area, Director Nha said that the proposal is sensible in that it will help the city to decrease the population density in certain areas while increasing the added value of those land parcels.

However, to reach the best result, this construction must refer to the city planning to aim at specific groups of people. Around these affordable houses, there must be necessary public facilities like green space, hospitals, schools, traffic services to ensure social security and create a modern living environment.

When asked about the beginning point for this general planning, Director Nha stressed that architectural planning for HCMC is an ongoing process which has already happened for a long time. The adjustment this time includes the evaluation of previous works to reveal inadequacies for correction.

This is expected to become a legal basis to solve a series of existing problems in local planning. Using suitable planning tools, HCMC can earn money for its budget via the auction of land in projects of road expansion and new urban area formation. The revenue will contribute to the support for the struggling economy now due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Talking specifically about the upcoming direction of architectural planning in Thu Duc City, the Director mentioned the predicted population growth from around one million residents now to over 1.5 million in 2030 and 2.2 million in 2040, as stated in the approved Decision No.1538 by the Prime Minister on September 16, 2021.

Its urban development goals are: gradually improving the quality of existing functional areas to be the driving force for urban growth in locations like Thu Thiem new urban area, Vietnam National University – HCMC, Saigon Hi-tech Park, Cat Lai Port; forming centers to serve the development of knowledge economy, science-technology, finance, commerce, and service; constructing the Transit Oriented Development model, including underground public transport and surrounding underground space; effectively using land in close relation with public transport to expand space for urban growth and functional facilities.

Art programme spotlights significance of Ho Chi Minh Trail at Sea

An art performance programme to mark the 60th anniversary of Ho Chi Minh Trail at Sea (October 23, 1961-2021) took place in Hanoi on October 20.

Through touching stories, new perspectives, the programme titled "Legend and future" reminded the young generation of legendary feats of brave people with extraordinary will and energy, who sacrificed to protect the trail – the dock of “no-number” vessels, to contribute to the southern liberation and national reunification.

The programme highlighted the spirit of national solidarity, the close relationship between rear and frontline forces.

During the programme, witnesses and experts emphasised the significance of the formation of the trail.

Although there were sacrifices and losses, the courage of sailors on “no-number” vessels importantly contributed to successes of the sea route. During 14 years, as many as 1,789 vessels transported more than 150,000 tonnes of goods and 80,000 officers and soldiers on this route.

The programme also spotlighted Vietnam’s efforts to promote sea-based economic development in recent times towards becoming a strong, sustainable, and prosperous marine nation.

The Ho Chi Minh Trail at Sea was set up on October 23, 1961 to help with the transportation of weapons from the North to aid the southern liberation army.
During the resistance war against the US imperialists, the route was considered a “true legend” and a miracle of the Vietnamese nation, contributing to the 1975 spring victory./.

Deputy PM checks Vinh Phuc province’ efforts against COVID-19

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam asked Vinh Phuc to boost IT application and expand the vaccine coverage while examining this northern province’s performance in the COVID-19 combat on October 20.

Secretary of the provincial Party Committee Hoang Thi Thuy Lan said Vinh Phuc is determined to maintain the achievements in the pandemic fight and economic development, noting that its current priority is preventing and controlling COVID-19 since the pandemic situation in neighbouring Phu Tho province is developing complicatedly.

It is ready to assist nearby provinces in dealing with coronavirus outbreaks and ensure the flow of goods, but it is also tightening control to minimise risks of virus transmission, she noted.

Lan expressed her hope that the Government will issue more flexible instructions so that localities can take proactive moves against COVID-19 in line with the reality.

As many as 502,746 people aged 18 and above, equivalent to 62.1 percent of the targeted group, in Vinh Phuc have been vaccinated against the disease, including 115,961 fully inoculated.

The province has gone through nearly 80 days without community coronavirus transmission.

With the resolve to become a sustainable “green zone” in the pandemic combat and socio-economic development, it posted economic growth of 9.62 percent in the first nine months of 2021. It has also reached and surpassed many other socio-economic targets, according to the official.

Applauding Vinh Phuc’s attainments, Deputy PM Dam asked the province to step up the application of information technology in the COVID-19 fight, accelerate the update of information about people’s vaccination status and testing results on the common system, expand the vaccine coverage, and pay attention to anti-pandemic measures in schools and industrial parks.

Vinh Phuc should take flexible moves against COVID-19 that match the local situation while closely coordinating with neighbouring localities to bring outbreaks under control and keep the flow of goods uninterrupted, he went on, adding that the Government will assign relevant ministries and sectors to soon issue guidelines to facilitate localities’ pandemic prevention and control./.

Most voter’s petitions are responded: report

Most voters’ proposals sent to the 14th National Assembly’s 11th meeting have been dealt with, Chairman of the NA Standing Committee’s Ombudsman Board Duong Thanh Binh said on October 20.

He made the statement while delivering a report on answers to voters’ petitions and the settlement of citizen’s complaints and denunciations during the opening of the second session of the 15th NA.

According to the report, as many as 807 voter's proposals have been sent to competent agencies. Their complaints are related to most areas of social life, including natural resources and environment, policies for contributors to the nation’s revolutionary cause, employment, social security, agriculture, rural areas, organisational structure and policies towards cadres and civil servants, transportation, education and training.

The majority of ministers and heads of centrally-run agencies directly responded to voters' petitions. A number of voters' complaints have been resolved by the ministries and agencies, which provided full information on issues of their concern, meeting the requirements and aspirations of voters and the people. However, some answers did not contain enough information and failed to satisfy the voters. In addition, a number of petitions have not been resolved due to a delay in compilation and submission of guiding documents, it said.

The report also pointed that the NA's agencies should further strengthen supervision of the promulgation of legal documents and supervise emerging problems directly related to people's lives. It is necessary for the NA delegations and deputies to improve the handling of voters' proposals, and promptly transfer them to competent agencies for settlement in accordance with the law.

The Government should direct the ministries and centrally-run agencies to fix shortcomings as stated in the report, as well as review and deal with the recommendations, ensuring the quality and on-schedule resettlement./.

Economic stimulus package should be built to ensure recovery: NA official

It is necessary to build an economic stimulus package that is big enough to ensure economic recovery and social security, Chairman of National Assembly (NA)'s Committee for Finance and Budget Nguyen Phu Cuong said on October 20.

Cuong made the suggestion at the second session of the 15th NA which opened in Hanoi on October 20 morning.

He emphasised that economic recovery and creation of resources to ensure social security are urgent and important tasks, especially in the context of a sharp drop in GDP in the third quarter. Thus, the deployment of the stimulus package aimed at restoring the economy and creating impetus for growth is a must, he said.

Earlier Minister of Finance Ho Duc Phoc presented a report on the implementation of the state budget in 2021, the state budget estimate and central budget allocation plan for 2022 and the three-year finance - state budget plan for 2022 - 2024.

The total state budget revenue in 2021 is forecast to surpass the estimate. However, many important collections did not meet or just exceed the estimate. The central budget revenue shortfall will be about 28-29 trillion VND (1.23 billion USD -12.8 billion USD).

Regarding the State budget expenditure in 2021, the state budget has so far spent 30.85 trillion VND on pandemic prevention and control since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.

Cuong pointed out that there are still some limitations in the implementation of the 2021 public investment plan such as the disbursement from the beginning of the year hasn’t reached the desired target and is lower than the same period last year.

Referring to the state budget revenue estimate in 2022, Cuong mentioned the need to take into account the decrease in revenue because the exemption, reduction and extension of taxes, fees and charges are likely to be renewed in case the pandemic continues to have a negative impact on production and business.

The state budget spending should be strictly complied with the Constitution and State Budget Law, he said./.

Vietnam logs additional 3,646 COVID-19 cases

A total of 3,646 new COVID-19 cases have been recorded in Vietnam in the past 24 hours to 5pm on October 20, along with 72 more deaths, the Ministry of Health announced.

The nationwide tally since the beginning of the pandemic stands at 869,193. The total number of deaths is 21,416.

Among the new cases, 11 were imported and the rest were local transmissions. Of the new infections, 1,810 were detected in the community.

The number of infections increased by 608 cases compared to the previous day’s figure.

Ho Chi Minh City still has the highest infection rate with 1,347 cases, followed by its neighbouring provinces of Binh Duong (492) and Dong Nai (305). The capital city of Hanoi reported 10 new cases.

Other provinces and cities that logged COVID cases in the past 24 hours are An Giang (194), Soc Trang (100), Bac Lieu (99), Gia Lai (93), Kien Giang (87), Dak Lak (77), Long An (72), Tien Giang (65), Tay Ninh (52), Phu Tho (50), Binh Thuan (50), Ca Mau (46), Can Tho (44), Ha Giang (40), Khanh Hoa (39), Tra Vinh (38), Nghe An (33), Thanh Hoa (25), Quang Nam (24), Dong Thap (24), Hau Giang (23), Quang Tri (23), Ha Nam (19), Ben Tre (18), Quang Ngai (17), Binh Dinh (16), Vinh Long (14), Bac Ninh (13), Binh Phuoc (13), Ba Ria - Vung Tau (13), Kon Tum (12), Thua Thien Hue (11), Da Nang (8 ), Ninh Thuan (5), Dak Nong (4), Quang Binh (3), Nam Dinh (3), Lao Cai (3), Hai Duong (2), Yen Bai (2), Son La (2), Phu Yen (1), Ha Tinh (1), Vinh Phuc (1), Dien Bien (1), and Tuyen Quang (1).

The Ministry of Health has directed the health departments of Bac Ninh, Phu Tho and Thanh Hoa provinces to urgently expand their epidemiological investigations and trace those who have close contact with new locally transmitted cases.

In the past two days, a cluster of at least 11 community cases relating to a local pre-school has emerged in Que Vo district in Bac Ninh province, a previous COVID-19 hotspot.

The local authority has urgently conducted their epidemiological investigations relating to this cluster, to quickly locate infected people and prevent infections from spreading further into the community.

It was also announced on October 20 that 1,737 patients have fully recovered from the virus, bringing the total number of recoveries to 796,583.

Of the 3,879 COVID-19 patients being treated in hospital at the moment, 20 are on life support (ECMO).

More than 67 million doses of vaccines have been administered so far in the country. Over 19 million people have fully received two jabs./.

Pandemic response strategy should cover aid for economic recovery: NA committee

The National Assembly (NA)’s Committee for Economic Affairs has asked the Government to carry out a pandemic response strategy that includes support for economic recovery and development.

The committee made the request in a report verifying the outcomes of the Government’s implementation of the socio-economic development plan for 2021 as part of the 15th NA’s second session that opened on October 20 morning.

The report, delivered by chairman of the committee Vu Hong Thanh, emphasised that the fight against COVID-19 has been carried out in a drastic, comprehensive, and timely manner, resulting in important outcomes, and that the governance of the macro-economy has reaped multiple successes this year.

However, it also demanded the Government to rectify the shortcomings in the COVID-19 prevention and control, and provide a detailed and practical report on supply chain disruptions and the shortages of workers and experts in some localities and industrial parks.

The Government was asked to map out solutions to workers leaving big provinces and cities, measures for attracting them back to their workplaces, and ways to create jobs for those who have returned to their hometowns.

For the remaining months of 2021, the NA's Committee for Economic Affairs requested the Government to exert utmost efforts to combat COVID-19, protect people’s health and lives, and quickly address difficulties and obstacles.

The Cabinet also needs to strongly promote the disbursement of public investment capital, guarantee social security, reopen schools, and promptly prepare a programme on economic recovery and development to be submitted to the NA.

It should consider the feasibility of the GDP growth target of 6 - 6.5 percent for next year and give a more detailed and persuasive explanation of the budget overspending and export - import balance, according to the committee./.

HCM City receives more medical equipment, supplies to serve COVID-19 fight

The Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Committee of Ho Chi Minh City on October 20 received medical equipment and supplies worth nearly 22 billion VND (964,200 USD) and 400 tonnes of rice donated by organisations and businesses.

Pham Minh Tuan, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, thanked and highly appreciated the support from businesses, organisations and units for the city's pandemic prevention and control.

He affirmed the positive results in the fight against the pandemic have been partly contributed by the timely and enthusiastic support from localities, organistions, businesses and individuals at home and abroad.

Tuan committed to using the assistance effectively and properly, and bringing to the right persons as soon as possible.

According to the Welfare Centre of Ho Chi Minh City, from the beginning of this year to October 18, the city's Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee and the Committee for Mobilising, Receiving and Distributing the COVID-19 Prevention and Control Fund had received 1.05 trillion VND in support of pandemic prevention and control, 313 billion VND to buy COVID-19 vaccines, and essential goods worth more than 370 billion VND.

From July 1 to October 18, the city's Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee and the Committee for Mobilising, Receiving and Distributing the COVID-19 Prevention and Control Fund received commitments to donate drugs, medical equipment and supplies worth over 2.68 trillion VND.

To date, the Committee for Mobilising, Receiving and Distributing the COVID-19 Prevention and Control Fund has coordinated with relevant authorities to promptly distribute more than 970 billion VND in cash and goods worth more than 355 billion VND in support of pandemic prevention and control./.

HCM City to focus on economic recovery in remaining months of 2021

HCM City authorities said they would focus on economic recovery in the remaining months of the year after failing to meet most economic targets in the first nine months due to the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Speaking at a conference on Tuesday, Phạm Thì Hồng Hà, director of the city Department of Finance, warned however that the economy could face a sluggish rebound.

Her department plans to propose an issuance of Government bonds, and would work with the Ministry of Finance to achieve the capital mobilisation target from next year, she said.

Public spending in the first nine months is only 32 per cent of the year’s plan, she added.

Labour shortage

The city, the pandemic epicentre with more than 419,000 cases since late April, is struggling with a shortage of labour as companies reopened early this month following the easing of lockdown measures, endangering efforts to restart the country’s export-led economy, experts warned.

Companies are struggling to achieve normalcy since a large number of their workers have left the city, they said.

Lê Minh Tấn, director of the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said the city would need to find 60,000 workers this year and 120,000-140,000 in the first quarter of next year. 

Around 150,000 workers have returned to the city from their hometowns, mostly in the Mekong Delta and Central Highlands, he said.

The department would improve employment floors around the city, he said.

He urged businesses to encourage workers to return.

The city has provided relief to 5.13 million people or 78 per cent of eligible people, he said, and urged districts to speed up progress reach everyone by October 22.

It has received 71,000 tonnes of rice from the Government, and distributed it to 4.7 million people. 

Phan Văn Mãi, chairman of the city People’s Committee, said the focus would be on the “twin goals” of continuing to contain the outbreak and revitalise the economy in the last three months of the year.

It is considering allowing resumption of dining-in at restaurants and street vendors and lottery sellers to sell their wares, he said.

Lê Hòa Bình, vice chairman of the People’s Committee, said the city has contained the COVID outbreak, with the number of new infections, hospitalisations, severe cases, and deaths decreasing significantly in the past few weeks.

It plans to remove the checkpoints at its borders with other cities and provinces to ensure easier circulation of goods and restore supply chains, he said.

“Nearly 99 per cent of people aged 18 and over have received their first vaccine shot and more than 76 per cent have got the second.”

The city Welfare Centre has provided social security packages to more than 2.1 million people and more than 14,300 gifts, according to Bình.

Total retail sales of goods fell by an estimated 17.4 per cent to about VNĐ636.3 trillion in the first nine months, and exports by 3.4 per cent to US$31.5 billion.

The index of industrial production is likely to have fallen by 12.9 per cent. 

The city economy shrank by 4.98 per cent in the first nine months and is expected to contract by 5.06 per cent for the whole year. 

Vietnam concerned about situation in African Great Lakes

Vietnam has voiced concerns about the situation in Great Lakes countries in Africa and emphasised a need to address the root causes of instability.

Ambassador Pham Hai Anh, Deputy Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the UN upheld the role of regional cooperation and hailed efforts made to promote relations between Great Lakes countries recently during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held on October 20 to adopt a presidential statement on the Great Lakes.

He said the humanitarian situation remains worrisome, especially in eastern Congo.

He expressed his concern over the plight of millions of displaced people and refugees, as well as the more than 27 million people in Congo that face crisis‑level food insecurity. 

In that context, he encouraged the further intensification of cooperation to implement the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework, to strengthen management of nature resources and to tackle threats posed by armed groups.

The meeting was held under the chair of Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Kenya and Council President for October Raychelle Omamo.

The adopted Presidential Statement called on relevant sides to continue commitments to implementing the 2013 Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for Congo and the Region endorsed by 13 signatory countries, the African Union, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, the Southern African Development Community and the UN.

The document also touched upon challenges and demand for stronger cooperation, notably in reducing the criminal exploitation of natural resources, improving humanitarian situation and responding to impacts of COVID-19.

It underscored the central role of regional cooperation and significance of support from the international community and the UN for stability and development.

Vietnam welcomes formation of Lebanon’s new government

Nguyen Phuong Tra, Deputy Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the United Nations (UN), has welcomed the formation of a new government and hoped that it will make efforts to carry out necessary reforms to bring the country out of the current crisis.

Addressing the UN Security Council’s meeting on the implementation of the council’s Resolution 1559 related to the Lebanese situation on October 20, Tra appreciated international efforts led by France and the UN to support the Lebanese people, while calling on the relevant authorities of Lebanon to make efforts to strengthen the confidence of the international community, including speeding up the investigation on the explosion in Beirut in August 2020, and urging the parties involved to exercise restraint and avoid any actions and statements that increase tensions.

She also called on relevant parties to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Lebanon in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions 1559 and 1701.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Khaled Khiari assessed there has been almost no progress in the implementation of Resolution 1559 in recent times, as Lebanon continues to face many challenges, including instable socio-economic situation, increasing poverty and unemployment rates, and sovereignty violated.

Adopted in 2004, Resolution 1559 called for the disarmament of all militias and the extension of government control over all Lebanese territory./.

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

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