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VIETNAM NEWS HEADLINES MAY 30

257 Vietnamese students test positive for SARS-CoV-2

The education sector in Vietnam has recorded 284 COVID-19 cases, including 257 students, deputy minister of education and training Ngo Thi Minh revealed at a conference in Hanoi on May 29.

Many localities where the COVID-19 outbreak is under control has permitted students to return to school.
Most of the cases were detected in Bac Giang, Bac Ninh and Dien Bien provinces, Minh said, adding that the number of people in close contact with positive cases (F1) stood at nearly 8,000.

“The ministry has recently issued documents directing grassroots-level education departments to take anti-coronavirus measures at schools and organize online learning for students who are unable to go to school,” said Minh.

With regard to the graduation examination for the 12th graders, Minh said localities will consider arranging exam locations inside quarantine sites.

For those students who unfortunately got infection, she said the ministry will issue a document to grant them wild cards to pass the exam.

The graduation examination is scheduled to take place on July 7-8.

Religious sect prosecuted for spreading SARS-CoV-2 virus in HCM City

Police of Ho Chi Minh City’s Go Vap district have decided to prosecute the Revival Ekklesia Mission Vietnam, a Christian sect, for spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the community.

The police labelled it as a criminal case in a decision issued on May 30 and said the religious sect has been prosecuted on a charge of “spreading dangerous infectious diseases to people”.

Since the first case was detected on May 26, 133 people have so far tested positive for the virus closely linked to the outbreak at the Revival Ekklesia Mission Vietnam, the Ho Chi Minh City Centre for Diseases Control (HCDC) said on May 30.

The HCM City Municipal Administration has taken strong measures in an effort to break up this chain of transmission, including cordoning off affected areas, tracking down close contact, and carrying out extensive testing.

Experts fear the number of positive cases associated with the religious sect would increase considerably in the coming days, as positive cases had previously fanned out to many locations, including HCM City’s neighbouring localities. In addition, many have yet to show up for compulsory health declaration.

According to the local investigation agency, this religious sect operates without complying with COVID-19 prevention and control regulations, leading to the spread of the disease to many people.

Hanoi suspends religious activities from 0:00 am on May 29

Vice Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Le Hong Son on May 28 signed a document requesting the suspension of religious and belief activities in the city, starting from 0:00 am on May 29, in an effort to fight COVID-19 pandemic.

The move came after new clusters with unidentified sources were found in residential areas and businesses. Notably on May 27, new cases related to a cluster at “Hoi thanh truyen giao Phuc Hung” (Revival Ekklesia Mission) were discovered in Go Vap district, Ho Chi Minh City.

Religious organisations and worship establishments were required to follow prevention and control measures as directed by the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Health Ministry, the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, the municipal authorities and Steering Committee for Religious Affairs, as well as Decree No.11/CT-UBND dated May 5 by the municipal People’s Committee on COVID-19 prevention and control measures in the new situation.

Heads of religious and belief establishments must remind dignitaries and followers to promptly report high-risk cases to authorities or medical stations, seriously follow the 5K message by the Health Ministry, fill in health declarations at tokhaiyte.vn, on apps or at local authorities as instructed by the Health Ministry.

They must also take responsibility for violations of prevention and control regulations that result in infections in their communities.

The municipal authorities also asked for enhancing religious activities online, not inviting foreigners to Vietnam or sending dignitaries or followers abroad for religious activities until further notice allows./.

Southern region tightens preventive measures against COVID

The HCM City Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention said on Friday morning that 12 more people are suspected to have contracted COVID-19.

The confirmation has to come from the Ministry of Health, according to protocol.

Two of them had come into contact with a couple who tested positive for coronavirus at Hoàn Mỹ Sài Gòn General Hospital in Phú Nhuận District, a three-year-old son of the couple and a colleague.  

But none of the four cases is related to the outbreak at the Revival Ekklesia Mission Christian sect in Gò Vấp District detected on May 27.        

Everyone who came into contact with them has been tested and quarantined.

But the other eight were indeed related to the Revival Ekklesia Mission, which increases to 44 people the number of people infected there, according to the centre.

On May 28, Hoàn Mỹ Sài Gòn and Tân Phú District hospitals were locked down because of the new suspected patients.

The Mekong Delta province of Long An on May 27 recorded its first ever COVID infection. The patient in Cần Giuộc District worked as a cook at the Sheraton Hotel in HCM City with an infected person related to the Revival Ekklesia Mission.      

He is being treated at the Cần Giuộc Regional General Hospital.

Province authorities identified 20 people who came into contact with the patient and 103 who in turn came into contact with them. But all of them tested negative.

The district has isolated an area in Long Hậu Commune where the patient lives, disinfected it and continues to contact trace.           

Professor Dr Phan Trọng Lân, head of the HCM City Pasteur Institute, said coronavirus variants were currently causing rapid spread.

“Quarantining is still the most effective method to prevent transmission.”

Everyone should be aware of the importance of strictly complying with the Ministry of Health’s 5k prevention protocol -- khẩu trang (face mask), khử khuẩn (disinfection), khoảng cách (distance), không tụ tập (no gathering), and khai báo y tế (health declaration) – he said.

When many people get vaccinated, it would protect them and reduce transmission in the community, and new variants would not develop, he added.

HCM City and other relevant authorities are tightening preventive measures.

They have said people aged above 60 should not go out unnecessarily, more than 10 people should not gather outside of offices, schools and hospitals, and everyone should maintain a distance of at least two metres from other people in public.

The HCM City People’s Committee has instructed authorities in Thủ Đức city and all 21 districts to step up supervision and check street food stalls and restaurants, and withdraw violators’ business licences.

Hospitals have been instructed to tighten screening procedures and classification of patients, and patients need to register first to limit queues.    

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam has instructed Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport to close down between May 27 and June 4.   

More quarantine areas

Following instructions from the People’s Committee, the Vietnam National University- HCM City’s Military and Security Training Center set up a quarantine area on May 27 with 600 beds and admitted 473 people.

The People’s Committee has approved the renewed use of university dormitories to quarantine people who come into close contact with patients, and the temporary use of the Cần Giờ Hospital– Base 2 with 300 beds as a quarantine facility.

It has instructed the latter to gear itself up to treat COVID patients and isolate people suspected of infection.

There are 30 Government-run facilities and 42 hotels to quarantine people with a combined capacity of 10,481 beds.

Health authorities are seeking to expand the number to 30,000.

For the purpose, they plan to put into use nine more military-run quarantine facilities and a dormitory at the Việt Nam National University-HCM City, which have a total of 19,520 beds.

In Đồng Nai, authorities said the province would use dormitories at high schools, universities and colleges as quarantine facilities if the five existing ones become inadequate.

Industrial parks

Many southern provinces and cities are tightening preventive measures especially at industrial parks and export processing zones since the pandemic has hit many of them in Bắc Giang and Bắc Ninh provinces.

The Bình Dương Province People’s Committee has, for instance, instructed local authorities and industrial parks and export processing zones to develop scenarios to combat COVID if outbreaks occur, saying they should strengthen regular checks and shut down violators for good.

Workers should be asked to fill online health declaration forms every day, it said.  

Hồ Xuân Lâm, vice chairman of the HCM City Federation of Labour, told Sài Gòn Giải Phóng (Liberated Sài Gòn) newspaper: “We have instructed labour federations in Thủ Đức City and all districts and trade unions in industrial parks and export processing zones to set up communication teams for COVID prevention and control.” 

Vietnamese health minister holds talks with Moderna representative over COVID-19 vaccine deal

Vietnamese health minister Nguyễn Thanh Long on Friday held discussions with Zuellig Pharma, the Moderna distribution partner in Việt Nam, over a possible deal to provide COVID-19 vaccines.

Minister Long and the pharmaceutical company talked about the “capacity and the conditions to provide Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to Việt Nam.”

Health minister Long asked Zuellig Pharma to supply vaccines “at the earliest time and with the most appropriate price” to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, as the country is currently suffering from a major fourth wave of infections that has seen thousands of new cases.

The Zuellig Pharma representatives said they would discuss Việt Nam’s proposals with Moderna.

The same day, health minister Long also held talks with several foreign officials and partners – including representatives from the Japanese and South Korean embassy in Hà Nội, as well as delegates from Indian, Europe, UK, Japanese commerce associations and South Korean companies including Samsung, SK, and LG regarding supplies of COVID-19 vaccines to Việt Nam as well as vaccinations for workers in industrial zones and manufactories.

Given the country’s success in handling the pandemic compared to elsewhere in the world, Việt Nam’s access to COVID-19 vaccines is heavily limited as suppliers give priority to more badly-hit countries.

The health minister and other parties have discussed mechanisms to access COVID-19 vaccines such as asking countries to remove the ban on vaccine exports, encouraging foreign enterprises to directly import vaccines to vaccinate employees working for foreign enterprises in Việt Nam, and cost-sharing mechanism related to access to vaccines.

The foreign partners and officials have also expressed support to accompany and reduce the burden on the Government and people of Việt Nam regarding the issue of access to and supply of vaccines.

At the meeting, Minister Long said that COVAX Facility has committed to providing 38.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Việt Nam and Việt Nam also proposed that COVAX Facility support Việt Nam in purchasing an additional 10 million doses with cost-sharing mechanism.

Minister Long said he hoped that the embassies and businesses of the countries that sponsor COVAX Facility would provide further support and exercise their influence so that more vaccines can come to Việt Nam.

Minister Long has also asked countries with surplus vaccines to facilitate sharing with Việt Nam.

To date, the country has only administered over 1 million shots of COVID-19 vaccine, mostly for frontline workers and medical staff using Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines provided via COVAX Facility, and only some 28,000 people have been given the full two-dose regime. 

PM urges tackling difficulties for Bac Giang amid COVID-19

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has asked ministries and agencies to tackle difficulties for the northern province of Bac Giang to fight COVID-19 pandemic in the spirit of not saying "lack of money, lack of human resources and lack of policies and mechanisms".

During a meeting with local authorities on May 29, PM Chinh called for putting protection of people’s health and lives at the foremost.

Assigning Deputy Prime Minister Le Van Thanh to directly take charge of fighting the pandemic and restoring production and business in the province, the PM requested continuing to enhance the management of all workforce there.

The Health Ministry was asked to send more medical students to Bac Giang to assist the local fight against COVID-19 if necessary while the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs must immediately offer support to workers and residents hit by the pandemic.

The Ministry of Information and Communications was required to adopt modern technology to manage labourers, especially workers.

Secretary of the provincial Party Committee Duong Van Thai said as of May 29 morning, three clusters were found with 2,025 infection cases, including one death.

The province already evacuated 3,000 out of 7,100 people out of concentrated quarantine facilities to prevent local infections.

In the immediate future, the provincial authorities will also create conditions for 34 firms at the least risk, several others at low and medium risks in the global manufacturing chain to resume operations.

Following the working session, the PM visited officers and soldiers of Regiment 831 under the provincial Military Command.

The Regiment now has 130 medical staff from the Military Medical University 103 and officers from the Vietnam – Russia Tropical Centre who are assisting the province in collecting samples for COVID-19 testing.

The leader wished that they would join hands with the nation to help Bac Giang soon drive back the pandemic and stabilise production./.

Donations to anti-pandemic efforts nationwide

The Central Committee of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS) will hand over 200 million VND (8,600 USD) to the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee in coming days to join hands with the nation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sum was raised from Buddhist followers nationwide during a week-long Buddha bathing ceremony which was held online from May 19-26, said Most Venerable Thich Duc Thien, Vice President and General Secretary of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha's Executive Council.

Each Buddha bathing ritual is equivalent to a 10,000 VND contribution to the VBS Central Committee’s COVID-19 response fund, which is free for users with unlimited times.

The event drew the participation of tens of thousands of Buddhist followers at home and abroad.

On the occasion, the Vietnam Maritime Commercial Joint Stock Bank (MSB) and the TNG Holdings Vietnam also donated 30 billion VND to anti-pandemic effort.

Specifically, 10 million VND was given to the Vietnam Fatherland Front to serve anti-pandemic efforts and the remaining to the Health Ministry to buy vaccines.

Since 2020, the banking sector, including MSB, has granted over 500 billion VND to social welfare and community support activities./.

PM orders driving back pandemic in key areas

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has highlighted the ultimate goal of protecting people’s health, driving back COVID-19 pandemic, especially in key areas, to ensure socio-economic development and social welfare.

During a nationwide teleconference in Hanoi on May 29, the PM said the pandemic is under control, but remains complicated in Bac Giang, Bac Ninh, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with more dangerous variants spreading in industrial parks and religious establishments.

He asked sectors and departments to seriously follow prevention and control measures in the principle of “5K vaccine technology”, take more drastic actions, stay more determined, tighten discipline, closely control illegal entries and exits, and raise public awareness of the effort.

The leader wished that Party committees and authorities will uphold their creativity to fulfill assigned tasks in the current situation.

Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long reported that since the fourth wave of the pandemic began on April 27 to 6 am on May 29, the country recorded 3,805 infection cases, including 3,594 local transmissions and 12 deaths. 182 were given all-clear from the virus.

So far, eight localities have gone through 14 days without new infections while the remaining 25 cities and provinces recorded 3,578 cases from April 27. Five cities and provinces logged high number of cases, including Bac Giang, Bac Ninh, Hanoi, Da Nang and Vinh Phuc.

To achieve herd immunity this year, Vietnam has to date signed agreements to buy over 100 million vaccine doses to vaccinate 70 percent of the population aged over 18, and strived to purchase additional 40 million doses, with priority given to Bac Giang and Bac Ninh./.

Report on youth action for climate change in Vietnam debuts

The Special Report “Youth for Climate Action in Vietnam” was launched during an online ceremony in Hanoi on May 29.

The event was co-organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Vietnam, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) and the Central Committee of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union.

On the occasion, a dialogue with President for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) Alok Sharma was also held.

The activity was within the framework of the Youth4Climate Initiative launched by the UNDP in Vietnam last year in order to raise youths’ capacity and awareness of implementing the 2015 nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and updating the 2020 NDCs of the Vietnamese Government in line with the Paris Agreement for Climate Change.

With feedback from youths nationwide, the 56-page Special Report is part of the UNDP’s “Climate Promise” with funding from the governments of Germany, Sweden, Spain and Italy, and the European Union and other sponsors.

It comprises six topics, including bottlenecks and common measures, greenhouse emission reduction, climate change adaptation, nature-based solutions, climate change policy and youth action roadmap. In each topic, authors also offered specific recommendations to authorities during the 2021-2025 period.

Speaking at the event, UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam Caitlin Wiesen Antin hailed the report with the participation of thousands of Vietnamese youths as an important milestone, reflecting their active contributions to climate change response efforts at the national and global levels.

Deputy Director of the MoNRE’s Department of Climate Change Pham Van Tan said Vietnam signed the Paris Agreement in 2015, ratified and then issued a plan to implement it in 2016 with 68 groups of tasks. It also sent NDCs to the UN and added them into law.

COP26 President Alok Sharma called on leaders to listen to youths’ voice and urged countries, including Vietnam, to join hands to reduce greenhouse emissions and cope with climate change./.

HCM City tightens pandemic control at industrial parks over increasing cases

Ho Chi Minh City ought to intensify COVID-19 prevention and control at local industrial parks (IPs) following the detection of new infections here with links to the cluster at “Hoi thanh truyen giao Phuc Hung” (Revival Ekklesia Mission), ordered Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong at an urgent meeting on May 28.

As heard at the function, Nguyen Tan Binh, director of the municipal Health Department, reported that since May 26, the city had detected 58 positive cases at the religious organisation and 4 cases at another cluster in Tan Phu district.

As of May 28, samples of 708 F1s and 11,644 F2s of these cases had been collected for COVID-19 testing, with 6,297 samples turning out negative to date. Localities in the city are imposing lockdowns on 23 places, of which 19 are linked to the Revival Ekklesia Mission.

Among the patients linked to this cluster, two work at the Tan Binh IP and Quang Trung Software IP. COVID-19 testing of 400 people working at the Quang Trung Software IP detected three F1 cases positive for the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

Highlighting the complicated developments of the cluster, Phong asked the health sector to continue tracing contacts and immediately put into quarantine related people.

At noon on May 29, the municipal Center for Disease Control informed that the city recorded 22 more positive cases of SARS-CoV-2 in the community, all linked to the Mission. Of the infections, 18 have already been quarantined./.

Japanese expert tests positive for COVID-19 in Hanoi

A Japanese expert working for Canon Vietnam Co. Ltd. has been diagnosed with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Hanoi, announced the Hanoi Centre for Diseases Control (CDC).

Taki K., 40, lives in Hanoi’s Tay Ho district and works for Canon Vietnam at Que Vo industrial park in Bac Ninh province, a gateway to Hanoi capital.

The patient first tested negative in Bac Ninh on May 14 and was required to return to Hanoi for home quarantine.

He was tested for the second time two weeks later with the result coming back positive on May 29.

The Japanese expert was said to live alone on the 17th floor of Fraser Suites trading centre and hotel complex on Xuan Dieu street.

Healthcare workers conducted epidemiological investigation, contact tracing and testing for those in direct and indirect contact with the patient.

Relevant forces cordoned off and disinfected the hotel complex.

Canon Vietnam had previously recorded several positive cases linked to the outbreak in Mao Dien commune of Thuan Thanh district, Bac Ninh province.

Bac Ninh is Vietnam’s second largest coronavirus hotspot, having logged more than 700 cases since the emergence of the virus in late April. 

No1 goalie removed from Vietnam lineup ahead of World Cup qualifiers

The Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) and coach Park Hang-seo have decided not to call up their No1 goalkeeper Dang Van Lam after the hopeful is said to have come into close contact with a COVID-19 case in Japan.

Dang Van Lam has been the No1 goalkeeper of the national team for the past two years.
“After consulting with the Vietnamese health authorities, the national team’s coaching board and coach Park Hang-seo decided not to summon Dang Van Lam for the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers,” VFF vice president Cao Van Chong told local media outlets.

“This is a pity but we have no choice to ensure the safety of the players,” he said.

The decision was made after Lam came into close contact with one of his teammates who had tested positive at Cerezo Osaka FC in Japan.

Lam is Vietnam’s No1 goalkeeper. He is playing for Cerezo Osaka FC.

The Japanese FC had earlier accepted the VFF’s proposal to allow Lam to play for Vietnam at the upcoming 2022 World Cup qualifiers in the United Arab Emirates.

However, the emergence of the virus forced the club to retain the Vietnamese goalie till June 1. Coach Park immediately called up goalkeeper Van Hoang of Song Lam Nghe An FC.

Park’s decision means Dang Van Lam will miss the chance to play for the national team at the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

Vietnam are scheduled to play Indonesia on June 7, Malaysia on June 11, before facing hosts the UAE on June 15 as part of the remaining fixtures in Group G of the Asian region’s World Cup qualifiers.

Shrimp-breeding in mangroves protects forest cover, offers stable income

The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Trà Vinh is encouraging farmers to breed shrimp in mangrove forests as the practice offers sustainable incomes and helps to maintain the province's forest cover.

With a coastline of 65 kilometres, the province has advantages for aquaculture development, but climate change and changes in the aquaculture environment have caused risks of disease.

To adapt to climate change, the province has shifted to other methods, including the shrimp – forest farming model, which is mostly implemented in the coastal districts of Cầu Ngang, Châu Thành and Trà Cú, and Duyên Hải Town.

Under the model, shrimp bred under extensive farming methods eat mostly natural food in the mangrove forest. The shrimp is 'clean' and is popular with consumers. 

The variety that is mostly bred is black tiger shrimp, one of the country’s key shrimp exports. 

Farmer Phạm Thái Bình in Duyên Hải District’s Long Vĩnh Commune has bred shrimp in a 3ha mangrove forest for nearly 20 years and earns an average profit of about VNĐ100 million (US$4,300) a year.

The profit is not as high as that from breeding shrimp under industrial farming, but it is stable. 

“The shrimp – forest farming model is a sustainable livelihood as it reduces the risk of shrimp disease,” he said. 

Bình breeds about 200,000 shrimp a year and staggers the release of shrimp fry into ponds in the forests four times a year in the dry season to avoid an oversupply in the main harvest season. As a result, the shrimp sells at high prices. 

In the rainy season when the salinity of water fluctuates and shrimp are easily affected by disease, Bình breeds crabs in the mangrove forest. 

Duyên Hải District authorities have encouraged farmers with modest finances who breed shrimp under intensive or super - intensive farming models to switch to shrimp – forest farming. 

Duyên Hải has more than 8,500ha of shrimp, according to the district’s Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The shrimp – forest farming model accounts for nearly 60 per cent of the district’s shrimp farming areas.

Trần Kiến Chúc, chairman of the Đông Hải Commune People’s Committee in Duyên Hải, said that most farmers who breed shrimp in mangrove forests have stable incomes.

The shrimp - forest farming model offers a profit of VNĐ100 – 200 million ($4,300 – 8,600) per hectare a year.

Support

The province’s Agriculture Extension Centre last year supported 22 shrimp breeding households in Duyên Hải’s Đông Vĩnh and Long Vĩnh communes on a total breeding area of 36ha. 

The households were provided VNĐ12 million ($520) per hectare for production costs, including 50 per cent of the cost to buy black tiger shrimp fry, 50 per cent of the cost to buy water - quality measuring tools, and a part of the cost to buy food and other material inputs. 

They were also trained in advanced farming techniques, which help reduce production costs. 

The supported households had an average yield of 700 kilogrammes of black tiger shrimp after breeding for three months and an average profit of VNĐ74 million ($3,200) per hectare.

Huỳnh Hoàng Ân, in Long Vĩnh Commune, said he received support to breed shrimp in a 2.5ha cajuput forest.

The costs to feed the shrimp are not high because they eat mostly natural food. “Shrimp bred under the model grow well and have few diseases,” he said. 

Ân has expanded his shrimp – forest farming area to 7ha.

Nguyễn Văn Phùng, deputy director of the centre, said the shrimp – forest farming model has adapted to climate change well.

The province has encouraged farmers to expand as it offers sustainable profits and keeps forests protected.

The province has more than 9,000ha of forests, mostly mangrove forests, with a forest coverage rate of 3.63 per cent.

Of the province’s total forests, more than 4,000ha were planted by local households who breed shrimp in the forests, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The province plans to grow more new forests, aiming to increase its total forest area to 10,000ha by 2025. 

Businesses work with gov’t to speed up vaccination drive

The business community is willing to work with the Government to speed up the mass vaccination programme providing there is a policy to support them, speakers said at an online meeting on Friday in HCM City.

During the conference held by the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), Đỗ Hồng Hạnh, member of the Việt Nam Textile and Apparel Association, said that some businesses were willing to connect with suppliers of COVID-19 vaccines to ensure optimal conditions for supply.

“A policy, however, is needed for the private sector to participate in the drive in order to speed up the process in general,” she noted.

For example, a company could negotiate with suppliers to bring vaccines to the airport for quality testing before payment, or could even negotiate for the transfer of vaccine production technology, she said.

Đỗ Thị Thúy Hương, vice president of the Supporting Industry Association, said: “The principle of the policy is that the State and the Ministry of Health would approve and manage vaccine quality and provide vaccinations for workers.”

The electronics and supporting industries face a risk of disruption in the supply chain as the fourth wave of COVID has hit the “industrial capital” of the northern provinces of Bắc Giang and Bắc Ninh.

She urged the government to allow companies to pay for vaccinations for their own staff.

“The business community should be able to inoculate their workforce in order to reduce the burden on the state budget as part of the effort to accelerate the government’s vaccination drive,” she said.

Most business leaders (in the electronics, textiles, footwear, wood and dairy sectors) said they were willing to join hands with the Government to find vaccine sources and pay for vaccination costs for workers.

Vũ Đức Giang, chairman of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association, said that businesses in the industry, which has more than 3 million workers, were “impatiently waiting for vaccinations for workers.”

The garment industry has a number of FDI enterprises that have good connections with the governments of the EU and the US, which could facilitate the import of vaccines, according to Giang.

Vũ Tú Thành, regional deputy executive director of the US-ASEAN Business Council, said the FDI business community in Việt Nam, especially pharmaceutical companies that make COVID-19 vaccines from the US and Europe, could help speed up negotiations on purchases of the vaccine.

Private sector plays a role

Referring to Indonesia’s model, Cao Hoàng Nam, director of foreign affairs and communications at PepsiCo VN, said Indonesia has a policy for businesses to contribute costs to vaccinate workers and their families. 

The Indonesian health ministry has appointed certain agencies to import vaccines. Local chambers of commerce and associations send them a list of vaccination data based on which businesses register to buy vaccines for workers, according to Nam.

The vaccines must meet WTO regulations or be approved by the Indonesian health ministry, he said.

Ngô Sỹ Hoài, vice president and general secretary of the Vietnam Timber and Forest Products Association, said the private sector, especially FDI businesses, played a major role in not only funding for vaccinations but speeding up the vaccination drive.

Huỳnh Thị Mỹ, general secretary of the Việt Nam Plastics Association, said that VCCI and business associations should work together to advise the Government and the Ministry of Health on the policy.

Trần Quang Trung, chairman of the Vietnam Dairy Association, recommended that VCCI meet with the Ministry of Health and the Government to discuss the issue more closely.

The government has set a goal to vaccinate 75 per cent of the population in order to maintain international trade and investment which is critical to economic growth.

Alain Cany, chairman of EuroCham, said: “Việt Nam has been one of the world leaders in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Swift border closures, strict quarantine measures, and targeted local lockdowns have kept infections low and enabled domestic business activities to resume.” 

“However, this is not a permanent solution, and it cannot continue for much longer without damaging economic growth. While Việt Nam’s borders are closed, other countries are rolling out vaccinations and re-opening their doors to the world.”

He warned there would be now a real risk that the country could fall behind unless it implements its own mass vaccination programme at scale and pace.

“The private sector, including foreign enterprises, can help speed up the country’s vaccination efforts. Our companies can provide both world-leading equipment and international expertise essential to a successful mass vaccination programme.”

Việt Nam expects to receive 31 million COVID-19 vaccine doses developed by US firm Pfizer in the second half of the year, according to the Ministry of Health.

Việt Nam began its vaccination drive on March 8, using the AstraZeneca vaccine from the UK. More than one million shots as of May 18 had been given to frontline medical workers and members of community-based anti-COVID-19 groups.

Four Vietnamese-made vaccines are under development.

Mass testing

Health authorities in HCM City collected samples from 50,000 residents in Gò Vấp District for COVID-19 testing from Friday night until early Saturday morning, after five pooled samples associated with the Revival Ekklesia Mission, a Christian congregation based in Gò Vấp District, from the same ward tested positive.

Pool testing combines samples from several individuals and conducts one single test to save time. If the result is positive, then each individual sample is tested.

The cluster at the Revival Ekklesia Mission includes 34 of its members and 24 others who came into contact with them. “Mass testing is now the most important tool to control the outbreak,” according to city authorities. 

Nguyễn Thành Phong, chairman of the city People’s Committee, warned that several patients at the religious mission worked in industrial zones, so the risk of spreading to industrial zones was high. 

According to the ministry, genetic sequencing of some of the cases in the new cluster showed they had the highly transmissible Indian B.1.617.2 variant.

The city government has ordered the temporary closure of hair salons and suspension of all religious events and ceremonies. Religious establishments must not gather more than 10 people.  

In a related issue, Việt Nam has just recorded a completely new strain of the coronavirus in the country. The new virus strain, a hybrid between the Indian and British strains, has a fast spreading rate and strong airborne spread, according to Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long.

“The Ministry of Health will announce this strain on the world gene map,” Long said. 

A total of 63 infections that can be traced back to the religious group had been found as of Saturday morning, according to the HCM City Centre for Disease Control.

Thirty-two of the patients are the mission’s followers, while the remaining were their direct contacts.

High school career-guidance programmes offer students practical advice

High schools in HCM City are offering more career guidance programmes to foster students’ awareness about career choices and study plans. 

Bùi Thị Xuân High School in the city’s District 1, for instance, earlier this month carried out a programme with businesses and career counselling specialists who shared information about the labour market. 

Nguyễn Duy Tâm, deputy rector of the school, said the programme aimed to provide students with advice on choosing the career they desire. 

In March the Nguyễn Du High School in District 10 carried out a programme themed “Experience One Day as a Teacher” to help students understand the work and activities that teachers perform in a classroom setting.

The event attracted 197 students from all grades at the school.

Huỳnh Thanh Phú, rector of the school, said that students can learn about their core strengths and weaknesses in particular work environments. Many students became more confident about pursuing tertiary study at universities of education.

The Á Âu Vocational Guidance School in HCM City offers the AAu Experience that includes on-site visits to school facilities and participation in demonstration classes as well as Q&A sessions with the school’s lecturers to give students and parents an insight into prospective careers.

The programme has over the past years met the demand for career orientation at secondary schools, high schools, tertiary establishments, and social support establishments.

A representative at Á Âu Vocational Guidance School said that updated information on the labour market should be part of career orientation programmes.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many apps and software on career orientation have been launched. 

Lê Thị Thanh Mai, head of the enrolment department at Việt Nam National University-HCM City, said that online channels offer useful information on career counselling and guidance for students and parents. 

Career education is expected to be part of the educational curriculum at all secondary and high schools by 2025 as part of the Government-approved project on career education for high school students for the 2018-2025 period. 

Kiên Giang Province focuses on growing, protecting forests

The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Kiên Giang is developing mangrove forests in coastal areas and improving the livelihoods of households that protect forests.

It is growing new mangrove forests in the districts of An Biên, An Minh and Hòn Đất.

A project to create mud flats and growing mangrove forests in An Biên’s Nam Thái Commune has so far planted 35ha of new mangrove forests, according to the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The province is soliciting private investment in forest cultivation and protection, and is leasing out forests for developing eco-tourism, so far approving 26 such projects.

The province has zoned more than 79,800ha of forests, with special use forests accounting for 39,709ha, protective forests for 32,000ha and commercial forests for 8,100ha, according to the department.

Nguyễn Văn Dũng, director of the department, said the management and protection of forests had been done efficiently.

The province’s forest cover increased from 8.6 per cent in 2015 to 12 per cent last year, he added.

The forests are mostly in the U Minh Thượng region, Long Xuyên Quadrangle, Phú Quốc City, Kiên Hải District, the island communes of Kiên Lương District, and Hà Tiên City.

The allocation of mangrove forests for local households to manage has helped protect them and improve people’s livelihoods.

Besides protecting the forests, the households also breed aquatic species and livestock in them to improve their incomes, according to the department.

In Hòn Đất District, for instance, they earn an average of VNĐ150 – 200 million (US$6,500 – 8,700) a year.

The province has a coastline of more than 200 kilometres, but 80 kilometres have been eroded severely, affecting the livelihoods of local residents.

It has built 30 kilometres of embankments in some eroded areas in An Biên and An Minh districts and has petitioned the Government for funds for building embankments and creating mud flats for growing mangrove forests in the remaining areas.

The cost of building the embankments is estimated at around VNĐ900 billion ($39.1 million).

The province People’s Committee has approved plans for sustainably developing forests and developing them in combination with eco-tourism.

Its forest protection focuses on preventing illegal encroachment for other purposes, logging and preventing fires. 

Cần Thơ building embankments along river to prevent erosion

Cần Thơ on May 27 began construction of an erosion prevention embankment on the right bank of the Ô Môn River in Ô Môn District’s Thới An Ward.

The work consists of a 950m embankment, a four- metre wide road inside it, pavements, and water drainage and lighting systems.

To cost VNĐ114.5 billion (US$4.96 million) it is funded by the central and local governments.

Nguyễn Qúi Ninh, head of the city Irrigation Sub-department, said when the project is completed in May 2023 it would help prevent erosion in the ward and help beautify it.

The Ô Môn is a major river in Cần Thơ and plays an important part in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta city’s waterway transport.

A large number of ships, especially big ones, travel on it, creating strong waves that slam into the banks and cause erosion.

The bank in Thới An Ward has been eroded many times in recent years, causing dozens of houses to collapse into the water.

The city is also building a 430m erosion-prevention embankment at the junction of the Ô Môn River and Rạch Tra Canal in Thới Lai District’s Thới Thạnh Commune at a cost of VNĐ49 billion ($2.1 million).  

The work began last September and is expected to be finished in August this year.

It was envisaged after erosion severely damaged a primary school, an old pagoda and a road in the vicinity of the junction. 

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

 

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