VIETNAM NEWS HEADLINES SEPTEMBER 12

Coronavirus hotspot sees sharp decrease in death rate

The number of COVID-19 deaths recorded in Ho Chi Minh City, the largest coronavirus hotspot in Vietnam, has decreased significantly in recent days, signaling the COVID-19 treatment regimen is proving effective, according to health experts.

Data from the Ministry of Health show the city, the busiest and most populous locality in Vietnam, registered 340 coronavirus fatalities on August 22, and the figure gradually fell to 245 on August 29 before suddenly rose again to 335 the following day. The figure then kept tumbling to 217 on September 1 and 195 on September 9.

The downward trajectory was attributed to the effective implementation of policies and decisions on COVID-19 prevention and control measures adopted by the health sector, said Pham Duc Hai, deputy head of the Ho Chi Minh City Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.

According to health experts, the opening of more intensive care unit (ICU) centres for COVID-19 patients, the large support of medical equipment, as well as the use of antiviral drugs and anticoagulants in treating patients, have helped to lower the number of critical cases.

Furthermore, the strategy of classifying patients has also played a significant part in lowering the death rate.

The southern metropolis has been categorising COVID-19 patients into three groups for treatment. Patients with asymptomatic or mild symptoms and no chronic diseases can be treated at home or in quarantine facilities. Patients with developing symptoms are hospitalized, while those in severe and critical conditions receive intensive care and treatment at ICU centres.

This strategy has not only helped COVID-19 recovery amid tough conditions, but also allowed for the early detection of patients that could suffer from more serious conditions in order to provide timely intervention and avoid serious progression.

Moreover, the mass vaccination campaign for local people can be viewed as another important factor which has significantly contributed to the reduction in the mortality rate.

Experts said individuals that have been vaccinated did not suffer the same serious conditions as those who have not received the jab.

As of September 9 the southern city has administered more than 7.3 million COVID-19 vaccines, with close to a million people being given two full shots.

Volunteers needed for clinical trials of home-grown mRNA Covid vaccine

Volunteers have been invited to sign up for phases 2 and 3a of clinical trials of the ARCT-154 Covid-19 vaccine candidate using the mRNA technology at the Hanoi Medical University.

From now until September 20, the university will receive registrations for participation in the clinical trials, the local media reported.

Volunteers should be 18 years old and above, reside in Hanoi City, should not have a medical history of viral respiratory diseases such as SARS, MERS and Covid-19 and should not have taken the Covid-19 vaccine.

Some 100 volunteers participating in the first phase of clinical trials of the home-grown vaccine candidate got a first shot at the research site of the university. The second shot will be administered to the 100 volunteers on September 12 and 13.

The result of the first phase of clinical trials showed that the ARCT-154 vaccine was safe.

ARCT-154 uses the mRNA technology and can self-multiply, so its immunity is expected to last longer. This is Vietnam’s first Covid vaccine candidate to apply the technology, which is used for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

VinBioCare, a subsidiary of Vingroup, had earlier cut a deal with the U.S.-based Arcturus for the purchase of the technology to produce ARCT-154.

ARCT-154 is the third locally-made Covid vaccine candidate to begin human trials. All three phases of clinical trials of the vaccine will be executed in Vietnam.

Apart from the first phase with the participation of 100 volunteers, the second phase will be conducted with over 300 volunteers, while 20,600 volunteers will participate in the third phase of the clinical trial, with phase 3a needing 600 volunteers.

Earlier on August 2, the Ministry of Health had approved a plan to begin clinical trials of ARCT-154.

NA Chairman meets Mayor of Finland’s Tampere city

Chairman of the National Assembly (NA) Vuong Dinh Hue met with Anna-Kaisa Ikonen, Mayor of Tampere city, the second largest urban area in Finland, on September 11.

The Finnish city is an industrial hub of various businesses and projects in high technology across the fields of health care, fundamental science, tertiary education and nanotechnology.

Ikonen introduced major firms which are keen on carrying out projects and bolstering cooperation with Vietnam in the coming time in digitalisation, information technology, smart cities model, renewable energy, healthcare and scientific research, cybersecurity solutions for Government leaders, businesses and organisations.

In reply, NA Chairman Hue asked the Mayor of Tampere to call on leading firms of the city to further invest in Vietnam, especially in spheres that the city holds strengths, capitalising on benefits brought by the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, in a bid to facilitate bilateral trade-investment.

Vietnam is working to attract more foreign investment to adapt to the supply chain transition, and seize opportunities in economic recovery in the post-pandemic time, he said, adding that the country hopes to step up cooperation with Finland in potential fields such as high technology, telecommunication, renewable energy, environment, water treatment and IT.

Vietnam has over the years paid heed to startup ecosystem development and innovation, cooperation between universities and research institutes. Mechanisms and incentives have been rolled out to attract resources from the local businesses as well as their foreign counterparts, Hue stated.

The Vietnamese top legislator affirmed that the Southeast Asian country is to perfect a legal corridor for a favourable, stable and safe business climate for foreign investors, including those from Finland.

He took the occasion to invite Ikonen and businesses of Tampere to visit Vietnam in the near future.

While in Finland, a high-ranking delegation of the NA led by Chairman Hue paid a visit to the Embassy of Vietnam and met representives of the Vietnamese community in the country.

Ambassador Dang Thi Hai Tam said the embassy has exerted efforts in stepping up citizen protection measures since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as helping Vietnamese students, arranging repatriation flights, and carrying out diplomatic tasks, among others.

The NA Chairman briefed the participants on the outcomes of his visit to Finland, and appreciated their sentiments and charitable activities for their homeland in the times of hardship.

He affirmed that the Vietnamese community abroad is an inseparable part of the nation and citizen protection work will be bolstered in the time to come.

More than 10,000 Vietnamese are staying in Finland, including nearly 2,500 students./.

HCM City's reopening needs high vaccination rate, medicines, safety compliance: deputy PM

A restaurant in Phú Nhuận District delivers food on September 9. HCM City is planning to ease its stringent COVID-19 preventive measures from September 15 to facilitate the economy’s recovery. 

Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam has identified the vaccination rate, supply of medicines and public compliance with regulations as the three key factors that will affect HCM City’s gradual reopening to facilitate economic recovery and safety from COVID-19.

The city plans to ease its tough COVID-19 prevention measures from September 15 if it is able to the bring outbreak under control.

Đam said to reopen safely more than 80 per cent of the city’s population aged 18 and above should get their first shot, and medicines and oxygen must be adequately available.

People must also get used to and follow COVID-19 preventive measures and social distancing requirements, he said.

“The sooner the city can reopen, the more people’s incomes will improve and their struggles will be alleviated.”

Việt Nam’s COVID epicentre with over 286,000 cases has gone through more than three months of increasingly stricter social distancing orders and preventive measures, with locals being asked to “stay where they are” since August 23.

Nguyễn Văn Nên, secretary of the city Party's Committee, said the city is heavily dependent on the services sector and so could not persist with its stringent social distancing mandate forever.

It would gradually reopen with “a new normal” to “live with the virus”, but it has to make sure there are enough vaccines and medicines, and people are knowledgeable about the pandemic, he said.

“If the city is not careful about reopening and unable to keep things under control, something will go wrong. We cannot be complacent or too eager. It has to be safe and gradual.”

On September 9, after two months of closures, the city allowed restaurants to reopen for delivery services until 6pm.

It has speeded up its inoculation rate, arranging mobile vaccination teams to reach more locals and vaccination sessions even after dusk.

As of September 9, it has given over 6.3 million adults their first shots, or 88 per cent of the city’s population aged 18 or more.

More than 971,000 adults have got both shots.

The city targets having all adults getting one jab by September 15 and their second by the end of the year.

It is working on a vaccine ‘green card’ system to enable people to take part in more social activities, including visiting certain business establishments.

It will be based on the number of shots people get and if they had COVID-19 and recovered from it in the previous six months.

It has been carrying out a home-based treatment model, distributing medicines, health supplements and food to patients treating themselves at home or district-level quarantine facilities.

Mobile health stations have been set up to monitor patients at home and quickly hospitalise those with worsening conditions.

Authorities are seeking to ensure abundant availability of medicines and oxygen.

The mortality rate is falling, with the number of deaths on September 10 only 195 against an average of 280 in the week from August 23 to 29.

HCMC education dept makes proposal for reopening of schools

The HCMC Department of Education and Training has written to the HCMC government putting forward a proposal for the reopening of schools in areas safe from Covid-19.

Schools will be reopened to students if the districts or Thu Duc City where the schools are located are determined as safe from the pandemic, according to the municipal department.

While teachers must have already been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 at least two weeks before returning to school, in-person classes will be opened to students who voluntarily return to school only.

Online classes must still be organized, especially for students who cannot attend school, the local media reported.

The municipal department proposed kindergartens have different time frames to pick up students and not provide breakfast in the initial stage.

The first, second, ninth and 12th graders should be prioritized to return to schools depending on Covid-19 safety and anti-virus measures. Classes for the fifth, sixth and 10th graders should be opened next.

In addition, schools should arrange small classes, while students should attend only one session per day.

Under the proposal, private schools and training and education centers should be prioritized for the reopening. These facilities can arrange accommodation for teachers and students to ensure their safety from Covid-19 during the in-person schooling period.

Meanwhile, foreign language and informatics centers should be reopened only when areas in their vicinity are assessed safe from the pandemic.

To help the economy recover, it is necessary to reopen schools, giving parents peace of mind to return to work and ensuring the quality of education, according to the municipal department.

Music video encourages medical workers in pandemic fight

A music video entitled “Nhung thien than ao trang” (Angles in scrubs) has been released to encourage medical workers in the frontline of the fight against COVID-19.

The MV is made by two singers from the central province of Nghe An, spotlighting efforts and sacrifice by medical workers who are working hard to stamp out the pandemic.

It features images of doctors and nurses in the COVID-19 fight as well as the tradition of mutual support of Vietnamese people in hard times.

After the pandemic is controlled, professional artists from the Vietnam Music Academy will remake the MV with singer Dang Duong as the main vocalist./.

HCM City plans to ease COVID restrictions for vaccinated people

The HCM City People’s Committee plans to issue QR codes to people who have got at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and people who have recovered from the disease to enable them to carry on business activities.

Part of efforts to gradually reopen the city's economy starting on September 15, it will see authorities assign a yellow QR code to those with one dose and green in case of two doses and recovered patients.

Dương Anh Đức, deputy chairman of the city People's Committee, said vaccination is the top priority now, and people who have received at least one shot would face fewer restrictions.

The southern metro, home to 13 million people, has so far administered one shot to over 7.3 million people and two to another 700,000.

Nguyễn Hoài Nam, deputy director of its Department of Health, said on Tuesday the city aims to vaccinate its entire adult population (aged over 18) by September 15 and fully vaccinate everyone this year, adding reopening is only possible with full vaccination.

Deputy Director of the Department of Information and Communications Võ Thị Trung Trinh has urged local authorities to take full advantage of technology to administer vaccinations rapidly and efficiently.

The department is working with the ministries of Health and Information and Communications to obtain data from the national vaccination database for the city's, she added.

People can register to get a vaccine on the e-health record app or immunisation information portal, and provincial departments of health will guide people to appropriate vaccination sites.

After being vaccinated, people can also track their immunisation records on the two platforms.

The data will be centrally managed on the national COVID-19 vaccination management platform and enable the National Immunisation Steering Committee to monitor the vaccination status and manage the national campaign. 

HCM City strengthens testing in continuing fight against COVID

The HCM City Department of Health has directed medical facilities to step up COVID-19 testing, especially of people with suspected symptoms, to slow down the spread of the virus in the community.

The last of the city’s three major testing phases will go on until September 15 with a goal of bringing transmission to an end.

The previous two sought to evaluate the risk in areas with a high transmission rate and isolate sources.

In the first, it tested more than two million people and found a positive rate of 3.6 per cent. The second saw 1.7 million people tested and a positive rate of 2.7 per cent.

The department has also directed related units to test workers and volunteers at medical facilities every three days in the final phase.

People with symptoms like cough and fever can call local medical staff, and a mobile team will arrive in 30-60 minutes to take samples for testing.

Medical staff and volunteers have been told to instruct people to do rapid tests at home by themselves so that the testing process both ensures safety against the pandemic and prevents cross infection.

The city has 403 mobile medical stations supporting medical teams, and they respond immediately to all requests for support.

Education experts suggest effective online teaching methods

This school year is the second to implement online teaching due to COVID-19, however, teachers, students and parents still have many difficulties.

Students cannot go to school, but they cannot stop learning, so online learning is the best solution. But learning online effectively is not easy work.

Students fall asleep while studying and yawn in front of the computer, and many families struggle because of internet problems. When networks are fixed, teachers restart lessons but time runs out.

Nguyễn Sóng Hiền, member of the Independent Education Union of Australia, said that choosing a learning method that both ensured health and safety for teachers and students, and ensured quality was a big challenge.

Thanks to the strong development of information technology, online learning is the most optimal option. In order for this method to be the most effective and to limit its shortcomings, the education sector needs realistic assessments and observations.

“The global pandemic tends to be complicated and unpredictable, so the education sector needs to proactively shape a strategic vision in developing and pursuing an online education curriculum for students for the next five years. This is a prerequisite for the sector to ensure set educational goals,” he told e-newspaper VOV.

Hiền suggests the Ministry of Education and Training researches the situation and results of online teaching in each locality, and makes proper adjustments regarding the content, method, teaching period and assessment for different ages, educational levels and situations in different provinces and cities.

In Australia, for example, Hiền said the country's education system was also seriously affected by the pandemic. Online learning has become a popular educational model for high schools and universities.

Australia's advantage is that it has a developed science, technology and digital background, so many e-learning platforms are designed to support the education system. This country also has programmes and systems of learning materials specifically designed for online learning.

“With this learning method, although a disadvantage is limited fun activities and damaging children's health if they stay on a computer for too long, it helps children form self-discipline. They can learn, use and apply digital technology in research and creation,” said Hiền.

Hồ Như Hiến, a teacher at Đông Bắc Ga Primary, Junior Secondary and High School in the central province of Thanh Hóa, said online teaching and learning was not new in Việt Nam.

It has been around for more than 10 years with many online teaching websites with millions of followers.

But for the majority of teachers, this is still a new form of teaching, and difficult to access because of problems with facilities, techniques, information technology and student equipment.

Hiến believes that it is difficult if both teachers and students are not fully prepared, thoughtful and determined to try their best.

He said that earlier, several provincial and municipal departments of education and training recorded lessons and broadcast them on television for students to learn online, however, they encountered major problems with broadcasting time, and teachers could not supervise the student learning.

Hiến suggests that departments record the lessons with participation of outstanding teachers, then send them to schools so they can use the videos for their teaching.

Each school should have a YouTube channel to publish the videos, and teachers should supervise student learning via Zalo groups. Teachers then report the learning progress to the school management board weekly.

Hiến said that the method should give teachers more time to manage students, and check their study progress. It also overcomes advantages about teaching and learning equipment if teachers and students cannot afford the necessary machines. 

He said this would ensure uniformity of time, knowledge and skills for students across the province or city, and the local department of education and training could better grasp the entire teaching and learning process. It is cost-effective so many schools can access it.

Over 51% of Hanoi adults vaccinated against COVID-19

Nearly 3.5 million people living in Hanoi have had one dose of a vaccine administered as of September 10, equivalent to 51.33% of people aged over 18 years.

According to the Hanoi Department of Health, the city injected 360,690 doses of COVID-19 vaccines on September 10, an increase of more than 100,000 shots compared to previous days, marking the highest number of people injected in a day since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Long Bien district, with the support of medical workers from Bac Giang province, the district has so far injected more than 31,000 doses of vaccine while Gia Lam district, with the support of medical workers from Bac Ninh province, has injected about 20,000 doses.

Gia Lam district is expected to complete its vaccination by September 12. Ba Dinh district has three wards having completed 100% of vaccination for its residents.

According to the Hanoi Department of Health, the city has required vaccination sites to organise injections with three shifts per day to speed up the process.

With the current injection pace, the city is expected to soon complete the vaccination of the first dose for 100% of its adults before September 15.

COVID-19: 11,932 cases recorded on September 11

An additional 11,932 COVID-19 infections, including 5 imported cases, were recorded in the last 24 hours to 5pm on September 11, raising the national tally to 601,349, the Ministry of Health announced.

Ho Chi Minh City, which is the country's largest pandemic hotspot, reported the highest number of infections with 5,629 cases.

It was followed by neighbouring Binh Duong province (3,971), Dong Nai (960), Long An (337). The capital city of Hanoi logged 35 cases.

The same day, 12,541 patients were given the all-clear, bringing the total recoveries to 363,462.

Meanwhile, an additional 217 deaths were recorded, and Dong Nai added 56 deaths that were not counted in previous days. The new fatalities brought the country's death toll since COVID-19 broke out in Vietnam in early 2020 to 15,018.

More than 27.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered so far, with over 22.36 million people receiving the first shot and over 4.74 million others fully getting two jabs./.

More than 1,500 recovered COVID-19 patients sign up to help in HCM City

More than 1,500 patients who have recovered from COVID-19 have volunteered to help hospitals, medical facilities and quarantine areas in HCM City, according to the city Department of Health.   

The patients have completed a 14-day home isolation period as required by the Ministry of Health.

For those who recovered within the last six months, they must have antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and for those who recovered more than six months ago, they must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

According to experts, immunity among people who have recovered from the disease is strong and even stronger than those who have been fully vaccinated.

The city authority has encouraged more recovered patients to participate in the fight against COVID-19, especially in caring for and sharing experiences with patients treated at hospitals.

Volunteers can register at the Personnel and Organisation Division of the HCM City Department of Health, at the phone number 0907574269 or 028392209967.

Vice Chairman Dương Anh Đức said that volunteers would be trained in infection prevention and control, and patient care procedures.

The pandemic situation is still complicated, and there is still a shortage of staff at quarantine and COVID-19 treatment facilities. The participation of recovered Covid-19 patients is very important, Đức said

The city’s People Committee has assigned the Department of Finance, the Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs and relevant units to advise the authority on policies and funding to help the volunteers.

Wholesale market must meet safety regulations after reopening: HCM City official

The reopening of wholesale markets in the city requires strict adherence to safety measures, Nguyễn Văn Nên, secretary of the HCM City Party Committee, said on Wednesday after a visit to Bình Điền Wholesale Market, which set up a transhipment station the previous day (September 7).

He praised the efforts of local authorities to develop plans according to various scenarios to ensure safety amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the city.

He expressed sympathy toward market traders who had suffered from more than a two-month closure of the city’s largest food and foodstuff wholesale market. The market was closed in July after dozens of COVID-19 cases were found.

However, Nên said there was no other choice.

“Delay in stamping out the outbreak could have led to serious consequences and created huge challenges in stopping the spread,” he said.

 

He told local authorities to limit the number of people and vehicles entering the market and ensure that people maintain safe distances between each other.

“If there is a new case, it must be promptly handled to ensure that the virus will not spread to others.”

All people working at the transhipment point at the market must be vaccinated. 

Nên said that traders who have recovered from COVID-19 can return to work at the transshipment point.

He asked local healthcare workers to offer medical examinations and supervision at the market, and police, military and relevant agencies to strictly monitor regulations on pandemic control and prevention.

He urged traders to use online services as much as they can so that buyers and traders do not need to gather in the market.

Phan Thành Tân, director of the Bình Điền market management company, said that traders and workers at the market must have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, have a valid negative COVID-19 test certificate (or take a rapid antigen test at the market’s entry) and complete an electronic health declaration before entering the market.

All people entering the market must comply with social distancing regulations, pandemic prevention and control measures, and the government's 5K message: Khẩu trang (face mask) – Khử khuẩn (disinfection) – Khoảng cách (safe distance) – Không tụ tập (no gathering) – Khai báo y tế (health declaration).

The entire market will be disinfected daily at transit areas.

On the first day of the reopening, 10 traders registered to return to the market and 20 traders the next day. Around 17 tonnes of goods were transported to the market and delivered to customers.

The market managemend board and District 8’s Medical Centre have developed a plan to quickly handle and treat infections if they are found, Tân said.

Bùi Tá Hoàng Vũ, director of the city’s Department of Industry and Trade, said each trader is now allowed to register a maximum of 10 workers in charge of loading and unloading goods, and can sell up to 70 customers. Traders have been encouraged to conduct transactions via mobile phones and the internet to limit contact between traders and customers.

The city plans to launch an e-commerce site that will connect wholesale markets with traditional markets, and provide delivery services from wholesale markets to other traditional markets.

The department will grant travel permits to eligible people working at the market, Vũ said.

Prior to the outbreak, 2,000 traders were working in the market, and 10,000 people, or up to 20,000 at peak periods, visited each day. About 5,000 cars and cargo trucks, as well as about 2,000 three-wheelers, enter the market daily during normal periods.

Challenges become opportunities for higher education to promote digital transformation

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on higher education, posing challenges but also opportunities for the sector to change and adapt to current circumstances while meeting the requirements of society, especially today's digital society.

These are the issues being discussed at an international seminar themed “Digital transformation and Higher education: When challenges are opportunities” on September 10.

The virtual seminar was held by the International Institute of Francophonie (IFI) and Vietnam National University - Hanoi in collaboration with a number of domestic and foreign universities. The event drew the participation of various prestigious experts, scientists and managers in the education and training sector both from Vietnam and abroad.

According to the seminar’s organising board, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on higher education around the world over the past two years. When universities were forced to close, teaching and learning had to move to online forms. Therefore, teachers and students must also transform and adapt to the use of technology like never before.

Prof. Dr. Nguyen Thi My Loc from University of Education under the Vietnam National University - Hanoi said that the whole education sector has identified the application of information technology (IT) as one of nine key tasks to effectively implement Resolution No. 29-NQ/TU on the fundamental and comprehensive reform of education and training. A series of policies have been issued to boost digital transformation in education; a specific mechanism was implemented for the training of IT human resources. Teachers have been mobilised to participate and share learning materials in the sector’s digital data warehouse; contributing nearly 5,000 high-quality e-learning lectures, nearly 7,000 theses, and a multiple-choice question bank with over 31,000 questions.

However, according to Prof. Dr. Nguyen Thi My Loc, the digital transformation of the education sector still faces many difficulties and problems that need to be further improved such as network infrastructure and IT equipment (such as computers, cameras, printers and scanners), transmission line and internet services for schools, teachers and students. The development of digital learning materials (such as e-book, e-library, multiple-choice question banks, e-lectures and simulation application software) is still developing spontaneously, so it is difficult to control the quality and contentsof learning. The collection, sharing and exploitation of educational management data and digital learning materials need a common legal corridor in accordance with regulations on copyright, intellectual property, information security,e-transactions and information distribution laws.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ngo Minh Thuy, Director of the Institute for Research and Development of Culture, Language and Education, said that in order to ensure quality in digital transformation for education, it is crucial to implement a synchronous roadmap for implementation while developing policies and plans on online teaching and learning. Depending on the type of class and the requirements of the subject, it is necessary to have appropriate regulations to ensure maximum interaction.

According to Prof.Dr. Le Anh Vinh, one of the prerequisites for successful digital transformation is how to embrace change and accept innovation. Higher education in Vietnam should receive investment and promote the sense of determination to implement digital transformation. Also at the seminar, Prof. Ronald Strickland from Michigan Technological University in the US and Prof. Vasclav Snášel, Rector of the Technical University of Ostrava in the Czech Republic as well as many other speakers and researchers presented their research, assessments, solutions and discussions on the challenges and opportunities facing digital transformation in higher education.

Implementing synchronous policies for tourism recovery

Vietnam has been making efforts to ensure safety at destinations and for tourists, particularly accelerating its vaccination campaign against COVID-19 for people and employees at tourism centres, towards gradual expansion nationwide.

This is one of six contents of Plan No.3228/KH-BVHTTDL on implementing policies to stimulate demand and recover tourism and travel activities recently issued by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Accordingly, measures will be enhanced to ensure the safety of destinations and tourism service establishments including the improvement of medical capacity for COVID-19 prevention and control and the proper implementation of the 5K message. Domestic and international visitors who receive vaccination certificates in line with the international recognition system will benefit from favourable conditions to assist in their travel. Phu Quoc island district in Kien Giang Province was chosen as the first destination to pilot the welcoming of foreign tourists with vaccine passports. On that basis, the implementation of vaccine passports will be expanded to other destinations around the country such as Ha Long (in Quang Ninh), Hoi An (in Quang Nam), Nha Trang (Khanh Hoa) and Da Lat (Lam Dong).

In addition, the relevant agencies and travel enterprises will strengthen tourism promotion as well as communication campaigns to stimulate tourism with the messages of “Vietnamese people traveling Vietnam” and “Safe and attractive Vietnam tourism”. The media will focus on introducing the destinations, the process of safe traveling and the new policies related to exit and entry activities while updating information about new travel programmes with attractive promotions. Tourism promotion should be enhanced via diverse propaganda channels including websites, social networks, online travel events, major international channels and cooperation plans with Vietnamese representative agencies abroad. Tourism businesses are encouraged to developed stimulus packages with incentives and commitments to quality. Management agencies will support enterprises to reconnect to both online and direct markets and promote their products.

Plan No.3228/KH-BVHTTDL also emphasises the necessity to develop diverse products to meet new market trends, carry out pla better nning of tourism systems, orient the development of sustainable and safe tourism products and tourism associated with natural experiences and health protection. It is crucial to support the development of tourism products that can meet the diverse changes in the market such as night tourism products and services, travelling in association with cuisine, agricultural tourism, eco-tourism, golf tourism and health care tourism.

The relevant agencies will continue to boost digital transformation in tourism, develop a national database system on tourism and form a digital information system about tourist sites, destinations, establishments and services. In particular, information and technology apps ensuring safe tourism for destinations, service providers and tourists, such as the “Vietnam safe travel” app, the registration and declaration system for safety at https://safe.tourism.com.vn, digital COVID-19 vaccination certification system https://travelpass.tourism.vn, will be applied to serve international tourists when conditions permit.

A smart tourism ecosystem and convenient mobile applications will be developed to support visitors. Functional agencies will also help travel businesses to connect, introduce and sell their products more conveniently via the online environment including at virtual fairs, forums and programmes.

Enterprises will receive support to boost the recovery of tourism activities. Preferential credit programmes will be proposed for business recovery activities, the payment of employees’ wages, market study and development of new products and services of tourism businesses. Tax exemptions and reductions for stimulation activities, the development of new products and services, digital transformation and vocational training are also mentioned in the plan.

Great support will be given to the development of human resources with high skills who can meet the requirements for the recovery of tourism activities in the new situation.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism requires the implementation of the plan to ensure the dual goal of epidemic control and socio-economic development and a harmonious combination between epidemic prevention and control and travel activities as well as the uniformity, feasibility and effectiveness of policies and measures to stimulate demand and rejuvenate tourism activities.

Farmers expand breeding of high-value fish in floating cages in Ninh Thuận

Farmers in the south-central province of Ninh Thuận are investing more in marine aquaculture as products could be sold for high price.

In Ninh Hải District, which is one of the province’s major marine aquaculture areas, farmers breed high-value marine fish species such as cobia, grouper and pomfret.

Lương Thị Hiền, one of the first farmers in Ninh Hải’s Khánh Hải Town to breed marine fish, said she bought 500 grouper fry for her first marine fish breeding crop raised in floating cages.

After 10 months of breeding, she harvested more than 300 kilogrames of grouper and earned VNĐ50 million (US$2,200) after selling them. Because of the high value, she has decided to expand cultivation.

Groupers eat trash fish and bran, and can reach a weight of one kilogramme after 10 months of breeding. Traders buy them at the high price of VNĐ150,000 – 180,000 ($7 - 8) a kilogramme. 

Besides marine fish, farmers in Ninh Hải breed lobsters and bivalve mollusk species like Pacific oysters.

Nguyễn Hữu Tài in Ninh Hải’s Tri Hải Commune, who has four floating cages of Pacific oysters, has harvested two floating cages, earning an income of nearly VNĐ90 million ($3,900).

Pacific oysters eat natural food in the sea and can be harvested after four to five months. The price of Pacific oysters is also stable, Tài said.

Competitive advantages

With a coastline of more than 105km and many lagoons and bays, the province has advantages for marine aquaculture development.

It currently has 800 floating breeding cages for marine fish, with an annual output of 190 tonnes, according to the province’s Fisheries Sub-department.

It also has 402 oyster floating cages and 2,642 lobster floating cages. In the first eight months of the year, farmers in the province harvested about 30 tonnes of lobsters.

Despite travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers have been able to sell lobsters at a high price of VNĐ600,000 - 2.3 million ($26 - 100) per kilogramme depending on their size and variety.

Đặng Văn Tín, head of the sub-department, said the province’s marine aquaculture models have provided jobs and increased farmers' incomes.

The province is expanding zoned breeding areas and applying advanced breeding techniques, as well as focusing on marine species that have high value, demand and competitiveness.

Farmers have been encouraged to take part in organic and biological marine aquaculture to achieve sustainable development.

The province is also providing training courses to teach farmers breeding techniques and how to monitor diseases and the water environment. 

Sales of marine fish inside and outside the province are also being promoted.

Advanced breeding techniques are being promoted to attract more investors and traders. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) floating cages based on a Norwegian method, for example, are more resistant to wind and sea waves than traditional wooden floating cages. 

Surrogate mothers take care of newborns in HCM City

The baby boy takes 20 minutes to drink a tiny amount of milk. Then, Võ Thanh Phương gently picks up the newborn, pats his back to help him burp and puts him into his cradle.

By now it is 3am and Phương's eyes nearly close. She sits against a wall and is about to take a few minutes' sleep when a little girl squeals nearby. Phương quickly runs over and whispers to her. Phương checks her nappy and uses a small tower of warm water to clean her.

Phương does everything masterfully, even though she has never given birth.

Phương, 33, is a teacher in HCM City. She married seven years ago but has not had a child. Hearing Hùng Vương Hospital had founded the H.O.P.E Centre at Lý Thường Kiệt Street in District 5 to take care of newborns whose mothers suffered from COVID-19, Phương instantly registered to help.

After a health check, the hospital nurses spent two days giving Phương training about caring for newborns. Phương learnt about problems with newborns such as choking, vomiting, and how to understand their needs through their crying.

There are two working shifts at the centre per day. The first is from 7am to 5pm, and the second 5pm to 7am the next day.

Each volunteer is in charge of six babies: feeding, changing nappies, singing lullabies, whatever is needed.

“I have been married for many years but have no children. Coming here, doing the work of a mother, I feel really happy,” Phương told e-newspaper Vietnamnet.

Võ Thanh Phương finds meaning in her volunteer work.
During her first days, Phương felt tired because she had never had a sleepless night before. To fight against sleep, Phương now drinks coffee, though she does not like it. She often splashes water on her face to stay awake.

“When the babies come here, they all look so immature. But after a few weeks, they are stronger. Their facial expressions are more soulful because besides being cleaned and fed, every day, they are also spoken to and sung lullabies,” Phương said.

Kim Tiền, 22, is another “mother” at the centre.

Tiền works for a company in HCM City, but after hearing that hundreds of newborns had to live far from their mothers due to COVID-19, Tiền temporarily quit her job.

Tiền said that with so many people needing help at this time, she did not want to miss a chance to help others.

At first, she did not tell her family about her volunteer work so they would not worry. Then on the second day of working, her mother gave her a video call, and saw her in a pink uniform holding a bottle of baby-milk. “Who is the baby? Where are you?” she repeatedly asked.

Tiền told her mother about her work and received her full support.

She said that on their first day of being “a mother,” as soon as a car of babies arrived, the nurses rushed out as if picking up their own children.

Looking at the tiny newborns lying in a long line of cradles, with sparkling eyes, Tiền felt an indescribable feeling. She suddenly realised how painful it must be for mothers to give birth but then not be close to their children.

"So, I told myself that I would love the children during this difficult period to partially compensate them," Tiền said.

On the first nights, Tiền found taking care of the babies much harder than she thought.

Many of the babies sleep all day and stay awake all night, so the volunteers must hold them for a long time before they will sleep.

As a young girl, Tiền has not had any experience looking after newborns before. The first time she held the babies in her arms, she was just afraid because they were so small and fragile.

In the past, if she saw vomit or dirty nappies, Tiền felt awkward, but when she entered the centre she didn't feel shy about anything.

She can now hold two babies in her arms at the same time, and her leg can push the cradle for another baby.

Feeding children requires meticulousness and patience, especially for children who eat slowly and vomit easily. Tiền said that in the past she was a patient person, but now that patience has risen to a new height.

Võ Thị Ngọc Diệp, head of the Nurse Division under the Hùng Vương Hospital, said all the volunteers were young and did different jobs before, such as editors, students and kindergarten teachers.

Some of them have never given birth.

“All of them are enthusiastically adapting to the life here and are eager to work,” she said.

About 60 babies are being taken care of at the centre. Many babies cannot be picked up because their families are COVID-19 patients. Some of them are more than one month old, but still cannot go back home.

Diệp said that children who have been separated from their mothers since birth are disadvantaged. Many mothers did not even have time to see and remember their children's face. In some cases, the mothers even died from the coronavirus.

“That's why when the children are picked up by their families, the volunteers here are extremely happy. If it is their mothers who come to pick them up, everyone feels like have won the jackpot because they know that the children still have mothers, and the babies have not been orphaned,” said Diệp.

Transforming Việt Nam: the power of National Innovation Systems

Experts from Việt Nam and Europe have gathered at an online seminar to discuss the application of the National Innovation Systems (NIS) in Việt Nam, a new concept that could bring profound effects.

The Vietnam Institute for European Studies and its parent organisation, the Vietnam Academy of Social Studies, collaborated with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) in Việt Nam to organise the webinar “National Innovation Systems in Europe: Trends, Policies, Challenges – Lessons for Việt Nam” on Thursday.

Coined by the late economist Christopher Freeman in the 1980s, the National Innovation System is the network between institutions of both the public and private sectors, where “activities and interactions initiate, import, modify and diffuse new technologies.”

These institutions are the governments who create and enact policies to encourage research and development (R&D), as well as provide funding; the private companies who both invest in and commercialise R&D projects; the R&D organisations and universities who provide innovations; and the intermediaries who connect investors and ideas.

European experience

Germany has invested heavily in innovation, ranked third in the Union for R&D expenses. The European powerhouse spent 3.18 per cent of its GDP in 2019 to invest in new products, services and processes, according to Dr. Pencho Kucev of KAS. Out of this investment, the private sector accounted for almost 70 per cent, educational institutions 18 per cent and the state 12 per cent.

In the case of Finland, Dr. Tomi Särkioja, senior advisor of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and former co-chairman of the Finland - Vietnam Innovation Partnership Program also commented that, the production value experience a boom in the early 1990s, rose 800 per cent from 1990 to 1996, due to the emergence of firms such as Nokia and products like mobile phones.

These success stories were attributed by both Dr. Kucev and Dr. Särkioja to government incentives that promoted entrepreneurship and fostered innovation.

Vietnamese struggle

Việt Nam has heavily interested in building and promoting its own NIS. Since the announcement of the “Entrepreneurial Year” in 2016, the Government has created organisations such as the National Technology Innovation Fund, the National Foundation for Science and Technology Development and the National Innovation Center.

Initial successes have been recognised.  According to the Global Innovation Index, from 71st place of 2014, Việt Nam rose to 42nd in 2020, and is  ranked third in ASEAN.

According to Dr. Nguyễn Chiến Thắng, director of the Institute of European Studies, total national expenditure on R&D has increased significantly due to the participation of corporations such as Vingroup and Viettel. 

Dr. Nguyễn Chiến Thắng, director of the Institute of European Studies.
He also noted however, that these results were not enough. Other components of the indexes, such as institutions, human resources and infrastructure have Việt Nam ranked very low, and in need of major improvement – a sentiment shared by academic delegates from Việt Nam. The development in science and technology companies are also not distributed evenly, most notably in central Thừa Thiên-Huế Province.

In identifying the challenges to Vietnamese Innovation, Dr. Võ Xuân Hoài of the National Innovation Center narrowed them down to five hurdles: finance, weak quality of human resources, segmentation of the ecosystem, intellectual property policy and regulation policy. The doctor stressed that barriers in policy should be changed to “compete with countries such as Singapore and Thailand.”

Prof. Đặng Nguyên Anh, Vice President of the VASS, opens the webinar in his keynote address. 
Nurture the future

Despite the challenges, Hoài believes that the potential for Việt Nam to become an innovative country are evident: “a young population with a preference for digital economy, with talented individuals in multiple aspects and great attraction of foreign investment, as well as a proactive government participating and enabling the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

Việt Nam has a chance to learn from other countries and their models, such as European ones. But applying the ways of others cannot be in a matter-of-fact way, as “every model, even the European NIS has its own pros and cons,” said Dr. Christian Lawrence of the Critical Issues firm Brunswick. Việt Nam must develop and grow the NIS in its own way.

Participants also agreed that the private sector is the cornerstone of the NIS, and state policies should enable and empower them more in innovation.

Both corporations and the government must work together to streamline innovation and socioeconomic development plans, so that the NIS is unified and not fragmented. 

Life's sweet for Chi Lăng custard apple farmers

Whenever autumn comes, the rocky Chi Lăng mountain area in the northern province of Lạng Sơn is covered with green custard apple trees.

The province now has about 2,000 hectares of custard apples, of which more than 613 hectares are produced in accordance with VietGAP and Global GAP standards, yielding about 19,000 tonnes of fruit.

Custard apples from Chi Lăng District are mainly purchased wholesale and transported to neighbouring provinces. Some local households also advertise their products on e-commerce platforms such as Voso and Postmart.

Despite the pandemic, the specialty fruit of the province still sees brisk trading, with an output of about 300 tonnes per day.

As each kilo is sold at VNĐ20-30,000 (US$0.9-1.3), the revenue of the farmers in the district is expected to reach a total of VNĐ720 billion (US$32 million) this year.

With such a large income, custard apples are dubbed as “gold on the mountains” by locals. The fruit has greatly helped improve the lives of farmers in the district, half of whom have become well-off.

Ma Văn Lét of Quán Thanh Village in Chi Lăng District, a local farmers who escaped poverty by growing custard apples, revealed that his family earns around VNĐ400 million (US$17,500) per year thanks to the fruit.

“By developing extra off-season custard apples, my family’s life is much better. Income from off-season custard apples has improved constantly, now increasing by about 40 per cent compared to five years ago,” he said.

As the fruit has been identified as a local key agricultural product, Chi Lăng authorities aim to create a large production area for custard apples, annually expanding the cultivating area by about 300 hectares.

The district will continue to coordinate with agencies to create favourable conditions for the production and consumption of the fruit and at the same time, focus on implementing measures to prevent and control COVID-19, according to the state regulations.

Ho Chi Minh City receives anti-pandemic medical equipment worth VND13 billion

The Vietnam Fatherland Front, Ho Chi Minh City Chapter held a ceremony on September 11 to receive medical supplies and medicines worth VND13 billion (US$570,500) in donations from enterprises and organisations to help the city in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Vietnam Anh Quoc Truong Dai Hung International Pharmaceutical JSC donated 50,000 boxes of herbal medicine worth VND12.5 billion to serve COVID-19 treatment and the Cao Dai Tin Trading company donated 50 oxygen generators and accessories worth VND445 million.

Between July 1 and September 10, Ho Chi Minh City's Committee for the reception and distribution of the COVID-19 Prevention and Control Fund received donations worth over VND1.8 trillion (US$79 million) from 168 organisations, individuals, international friends, overseas Vietnamese, religious organisations, agencies, and businesses.

*Viet Duc Hospital said that Phuong Trang Group has just donated 550 oxygen generators and 300 SpO2 oxygen meters to the COVID-19 Intensive Care Centre under the Viet Duc Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City to help with the treatment of a large number of COVID-19 patients.

The hospital has also presented 645 oxygen generators to medical facilities across Ho Chi Minh City. “Hopefully with these joint efforts, the prevention and control of COVID-19 pandemic will be successful in the near future,” said hospital director Tran Binh Giang.

* Deputy Director of the Department of Foreign Affairs of Kien Giang province Nguyen Viet Thong on September 10 handed over VND100 million to a representative of the Consulate General of Vietnam in Cambodia’s Preah Sihanouk province to support Vietnamese people in Cambodia facing difficulties due to the pandemic.

The Consulate General has so far provided relief aid for more than 8,000 Vietnamese households and workers in provinces covered by the Consulate General including Preah Sihanouk, Kampot, Kep, Koh Kong, Kampong Speu and Takeo.

Bac Kan promotes investment in tourism

The northern mountainous province of Bac Kan has promoted investment attraction in tourism over recent years in order to boost its tourism industry and potential and gradually turn tourism into a spearhead economic sector.

The 12th Provincial Party Congress for the 2020 – 2025 term identified one of its four key tasks as increasing investment attraction to tourism and industry, with the focus on the Ba Be lake tourist site, making it a spearhead economic sector.

The Bac Kan Provincial Party Committee issued Resolution No. 18 on August 12, 2021 on Bac Kan tourism development in the 2021 – 2025 period, with a vision to 2030.

Accordingly, the province strives to turn the Ba Be tourist area into a national tourist site and the Nam Cut lake tourist site into a provincial tourist site with annual tourism revenue of more than VND1 trillion (US$43.8 million).

The resolution expects to attract strategic investors and experienced enterprises to invest in complex tourist service sites and large-scale tourism projects, especially accommodation establishments, entertainment complexes, and high-class resorts while encouraging start-up enterprises and diversified tourism services and products suitable with local strengths.

To realise the resolution of the Provincial Party Congress, the Provincial People's Committee issued an action plan, solidifying goals and solutions on local tourism development with special attention being paid to investment attraction in this field.

The province will focus on the planning of key tourist areas in line with provincial planning for the 2021 – 2030 period and plans on the preservation and restoration of the ATK Cho Don special national relic and Ba Be lake tourism site, amongst others.

The Bac Kan Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has also provided advice to the Provincial People's Committee on the plan to promote Bac Kan tourism, typical tourism products, and the application of information technology in smart tourism in the province in the 2021 - 2025 period.

The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has also participated in fostering local tourism at investment promotion conferences and connecting local tourism with other provinces and cities across the country.

The department has also organised inter-regional tours, provided training for human resources and acquired management experience in this field.

According to the Bac Kan Department of Planning and Investment, by the end of July 2021, the province granted an investment certificate to the Mo Viet Joint Stock Company to implement an agricultural project in combination with eco-tourism in Cho Don district.

In addition, the Provincial People's Committee has given the nod to a number of investors to study and invest in large tourism projects in Ba Be, Cho Don and Cho Moi including Onsen Fuji Service Travel JSC, Sun Group, FLC Group, Truong Thanh Vietnam Group JSC, Son Hai Construction and Service JSC, Green Global JSC and others.

The Bac Kan Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism together with other departments and localities are trying to create the most favourable conditions for investors to launch tourism projects.

With synchronous solutions in addition to advantages and great potential, the tourism sector of Bac Kan province is destined for great breakthroughs in the future.

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

VIETNAM NEWS HEADLINES SEPTEMBER 11

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