According to Mr. Duong Tri Dung, the Department is closely monitoring the developments of the epidemic situation in the city to consult city leaders about when to organize the examination.
By staff writers – Translated by Anh Quan
According to Mr. Duong Tri Dung, the Department is closely monitoring the developments of the epidemic situation in the city to consult city leaders about when to organize the examination.
By staff writers – Translated by Anh Quan
Portal expected to reach large lychee consumers
An online portal has been launched to help farmers in pandemic-hit Bac Giang province sell their lychees.
“Thank God, it’s so effective,” vice director of Bac Giang Enterprise Consulting and Assistance Centre (BECA) Duong Thanh Son said about the portal launched by the centre. Bac Giang has been hit hardest by COVID-19 during its fourth wave in Vietnam, causing difficulties for local farmers.
The portal www.hotrotieuthuvaithieubacgiang.com was launched about three weeks ago and a Facebook page hotrotieuthuvaithieubacgiang was created just a few days later when Bac Giang started entering the lychee harvest season.
Consumers can register to buy a large volume of lychees – a minimum of a tonne – after inputting basic information like name, e-mail, phone number, address and amount of lychee.
Son, who specialises in information technology and communication, said that the portal looked simple but behind it were automatic customer management and customer care programmes that help with online sales.
The portal and the Facebook page have reached hundreds of thousands of users, Son said, adding that he has received positive feedback on social media.
“We connect Bac Giang lychee farmers and co-operatives with buyers. We pledge that our consumers can buy high-quality lychee at very good prices,” Son said.
“If we had thought of the portal earlier and prepared for it about three months ago when lychee was still green, we could have reached more consumers,” Son said.
He said the idea for the portal came up when Bac Giang farmers entered lychee harvest time but the province was struggling to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, the province has about 28,100 ha of lychee with an estimated production of 180,000 tonnes. The COVID-19 outbreaks caused difficulties for harvesting, transporting, selling and exporting the fruit.
Together with the Government, provincial authorities, organisations and individuals, BECA helped farmers in lychee consumption. All BECA staff, mostly IT and media personnel, have helped with online sales.
On the first day of launching the portal, Son said they received hundreds of messages asking to buy lychees. Orders for small amounts, for example a few kilos, were transferred to local retailers while BECA would concentrate on large orders, especially those from enterprises, which as Son said, had financial ability and willingness to buy large amounts.
Within the first week, BECA helped to sell nearly 140 tonnes of lychee.
“We have a goal to help farmers sell 1,000-1,800 tonnes of lychee. It’s a big goal, so we need help from associations, enterprises and businesses,” Son said.
Son is also looking for other potential consumers – community groups. He said, for example, the Duong community – sharing the family name Duong in Vietnam – was very large. Son received an order of 17 tonnes from the Duong community in HCM City, and they were set to order two more containers. The Duong communities in Binh Thuan and Binh Duong ordered two containers each.
Dinh Thi Anh from the northern province of Nam Dinh said that on seeing news about COVID-19 hotspots in Bac Giang province, she wanted to do something for people there, especially farmers who faced difficulties in selling lychee.
She said that she was very happy to find a reliable source that supplies Bac Giang lychees and she asked her friends to add their orders on hotrotieuthuvaithieubacgiang.com and then sell the fruit to people in Nam Dinh city.
All the funds raised would be donated to the national COVID-19 vaccine fund, Anh said.
Anh and dozens of volunteers on June 7 received the first shipment of lychee from Bac Giang and by the afternoon of the same day, they sold nearly a tonne of lychee at two stalls located at 757 Vu Huu Loi and 440 Tran Hung Dao in Nam Dinh city.
“We unloaded the lychees, weighed and divided them into bags of 2kg, received orders and then delivered them to consumers or sold them at the stalls,” Anh said, adding that people not only bought lychee but also donated to the fund.
“We will be with Bac Giang! We can not do big things, so we offer a little help,” Anh said.
Son said that he deeply understood the hardships that local farmers faced as well as the importance of lychee fruit – a source of pride for people in Bac Giang.
They are more proud of the fruit, as now, lychee is grown with VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards. The farming products are not only tasty but also safe. For years, Bac Giang lychee has been exported to 30 countries all over the world including demanding markets like the US, EU and Japan. In the domestic market, the fruit is sold in major supermarket chains.
Son said that since the beginning of harvest time, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Bac Giang lychee could reach consumers both in and outside of the country.
Bac Giang authorities were determined to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on lychee harvesting and consumption.
Particularly, the authorities set up COVID-19-free lychee growing areas, meaning that in lychee growing areas, all people suspected to have close contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases are taken to concentrated quarantine areas and none of such areas are located in lychee growing areas.
Checkpoints have been set up to strictly control and monitor people and vehicles entering the lychee growing areas. All drivers, workers and traders arriving in lychee growing areas must take quick COVID-19 tests.
All vehicles carrying lychee must be disinfected.
Tran Quang Tan, director of the province’s Trade and Industry Department, said that lychee farmers would feel hurt if they hear their fruit needed rescuing.
The province’s authorities called for support, not rescue. To some extent, when it comes to “farming product rescue campaigns”, people tend to think about abundant, cheap, low-quality products.
“Bac Giang lychee does not need rescuing,” Son said, adding that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, since the beginning of harvest time, the lychee consumption was still going on.
“Difficulties? Yes, we face a lot of difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we need your support to overcome them. Bac Giang will overcome all such difficulties,” Son said.
“Bac Giang people are now proud to offer tasty lychee at reasonable prices. As the consumption goes smoothly, both farmers and consumers are happy for the benefits they get,” Son said.
The lychee harvest time in Bac Giang province will last about one and a half months. The province reported more than 70,000 tonnes were sold, meaning that more than 100,000 tonnes of Bac Giang lychee still needs to be sold. This year, lychee prices are similar to those of last year, ranging from 13,000 VND to 30,000 VND per kilo ($0.5-1.3)./.
VN-Index heading toward 1,400 points this week on bullish sentiment: analysts
The VN-Index on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HoSE) closed last week at 1,351.74 points, recovering on the back of large-cap stocks. But for the week, the index still lost 0.5 per cent.
On the Ha Noi Stock Exchange (HNX), the HNX-Index rose 1.72 per cent last Friday to 316.69 points. The index, however, slightly declined by 0.6 per cent for the week.
After plummeting due to strong profit-taking activities earlier last week, the market rebounded later in the week as risk appetite increased.
The market also received support from the improvement of the overload order problems and the comeback of foreign investors after net selling for eight consecutive sessions.
Analysts from MB Securities Corporation (MBS) said that the market was showing investors’ optimism. The positive sentiment would continue throughout this week, helping the market in the race to the 1,400 point-level.
On the technical front, MBS thought that the strong recovery of the market in late sessions last week ended the correction period around 1,300 points, creating momentum for the market to enter a new rising wave.
“With the current strong rally, we think the market can head to the target of 1,400 points in the coming sessions,” MBS said.
SSI Securities Corporation (SSI) also expressed optimism. “The VN-Index followed a positive scenario once there was confirmation about the recoveries of large-cap stocks, as well as the even spread of cash inflows,” SSI said.
“Therefore, there is the possibility that the VN-Index will continue to reach higher in the near future and head toward the target zone of 1,400 points.”
According to BOS Securities Corporation (BOS), technically, the market benchmark breached the resistance level of 1,350 points on strong demand, along with weaker selling pressure. This made some technical indicators reverse and showed positive signs in the short term.
However, cash flow warned about the possibility of weaker demand in some coming sessions. The VN-Index is likely to maintain its rally and head back to its previous peak of 1,370 points this week.
“Nevertheless, selling pressure is expected to increase during rallies, making the market face some more fluctuations,” BOS added.
Meanwhile, Saigon – Hanoi Securities JSC (SHS) said that the market corrected after five straight weekly gains, but last week’s market liquidity remained at a high level with an average of nearly VND31.3 trillion (US$1.36 billion) per session on both bourses, which showed relatively strong selling pressure.
SHS forecast that the market might see some corrections when selling pressure rises at the current level.
As the market corrected last week, most pillar stocks edged down. Of which, gas and oil stocks fell the most in market capitalisation, down 5.7 per cent. PetroViet Nam Coating JSC (PVCoating, PVB), PetroVietnam Oil Corporation (OIL), PetroVietnam Drilling & Well Services Corporation (PVD), Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited (BSR) and PetroVietnam Technical Services Corporation (PVS) all posted losses of more than 5 per cent in market cap.
They were followed by utilities and banking sectors, down 4.3 per cent and 3.8 per cent, respectively.
Foreign investors were still net sellers last week as they net sold a value of VND730 billion (US$32 million). But this amount was lower than that of the week before, which was nearly VND6.2 trillion (US$267.8 million).
Finance ministry inspectorate to check out ailing HCM City stock exchange
The Ministry of Finance’s Chief Inspector has signed a decision to inspect the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HoSE) after its failure to resolve the chronic overload of its trading system.
The decision follows an order from Minister of Finance Ho Duc Phoc for an immediate inspection.
The inspection delegation will work out a work plan depending on the COVID-19 situation in the city.
Nguyen Hoang Hai, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Association of Financial Investors, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) online, that the overload left investors unable to trade securities.
The problem began last year and has steadily worsened, weakening investors’ trust and causing them losses, he added.
According to evn.express.net, the system has been unstable for months, with orders simply frozen or executed very slowly, and stock prices are not displayed, forcing investors to take needless risks.
The worst happened on June 1, when there were excessive volumes and trading value topped VND21.7 trillion ($935.3 million) in just the morning session. The system sounded a warning, and HoSE was forced to suspend trading in the afternoon to prevent possible problems.
From June 2, it refused to allow traders to cancel or modify orders to prevent the system from overloading.
Leading brokerages have to date reallowed the use of the features though some are still enforcing limits during peak trading hours.
Businesses in Ho Chi Minh City wallowing in lack of capital and high production costs
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, most businesses in Ho Chi Minh City face a shortage of capital while production costs are increasing.
Regarding business activities, since the beginning of the year, 1,365 businesses have reported difficulties due to the pandemic, more than 42,500 workers lost their jobs or stopped working, 410 businesses needed loans to pay wages to workers, and 2,274 enterprises completed dissolution procedures.
The chairman expects the business community and people in the area to join the government to overcome this difficulty. He stated that, currently, Ho Chi Minh City has to spend about VND7 billion ($304,350) a day on testing. The city’s goal is to vaccinate its entire population.
“It is very difficult to access vaccines now because supply still cannot meet the demand,” Nguyen Van Nen, Secretary of Ho Chi Minh City Committee said and urged people who know of guaranteed vaccine supply to contact the city.
Meanwhile, Le Thi Huynh Mai, director of Ho Chi Minh City Department of Planning and Investment, said that in the first five months, more than 6,400 businesses resumed operations.
However, the business community is facing difficulties, with the number of enterprises registering for dissolution increasing by 5 per cent over the same period last year (2,458 enterprises) and the number of enterprises temporarily suspending operation increasing nearly 24 per cent with more than 9,800 enterprises.
There are five common difficulties that businesses are facing, including a decrease in the labour force involved in production, incurring expenses for the prevention of COVID-19, employees having their work hours cut or forced to quit, disruptions in access to customers and supply chains, and lack of raw materials for production.
Chu Tien Dung, head of the Ho Chi Minh City Union of Business Associations (HUBA), expressed concerns, saying that more businesses withdrew from the market in the first two quarters than those entering.
A quick online survey of over 100 businesses by HUBA showed that over 84 per cent of small- and medium-sized enterprises have been facing difficulties since the fourth outbreak of COVID-19. Accordingly, 40 per cent of respondents claimed to have had difficulties from a lack of capital, 80 per cent from market disruptions, 52 per cent from downsizing employment, 14 from interruptions to raw material supply chains, and more than 50 per cent suffered from social distancing measures.
Although some enterprises in key industries have quickly reconnected the source of raw materials and re-adjusted their operations, they are facing the biggest pressure from the lack of capital and the rising price of raw materials, raising manufacturing costs and reducing competitiveness.
Many businesses want to restructure, apply new technologies, or digitally transform to promote online shopping, but lack capital for it.
“The first support packages for businesses and employees were timely but the implementation has not had a clear impact on businesses. Some policies such as tax exemption, social insurance reduction have helped businesses reduce difficulties in terms of liquidity and cash flow, but the application time is short and the number of these packages is not large, so it cannot help businesses overcome their difficulties,” said Dung.
Textile and garment companies struggle in fourth Covid-19 wave
Most textile and garment companies in the country have received large orders for the second half of the year but the fourth Covid-19 wave is threatening to hinder production.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, textile and garment orders increased significantly after the Covid-19 pandemic was brought under control in the United States, the European Union and Japan, some of Vietnam’s main importers of textile and garment products.
The manufacturing index of the textile and garment sector in May 2021 rose 2.2% from the previous month and 10% compared with the same period last year. From January to May, the index grew 8.1% year-on-year.
The country exported over US$12 billion of textile and garment products in the first five months of the year, increasing 15% year-on-year.
However, textile and garment companies are struggling with disruptions caused by the ongoing fourth Covid-19 wave, which began on April 27.
Vu Duc Giang, chairman of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association, said at least 45 textile and garment companies had to suspend their operations over the past two weeks. They are facing a number of problems including rising costs, salary payments to maintain the staff and compensation for customers in case of late shipments.
“If a textile and garment company has to shut down for 14-21 days, its production plan for the entire year may be ruined,” he said.
Le Tien Truong, chairman of the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex), said even if textile and garment companies remain operational, they may not be able to maintain their workforce as workers staying in areas under lockdown or social distancing are not allowed to travel to the workplace. This can cause a loss of billions of dollars and affect the reputation of the Vietnamese textile and garment sector.
Nguyen Xuan Duong, chairman of the board of Hung Yen Garment Corporation, said the Government should accelerate Covid-19 vaccination for workers of industrial parks and export processing zones, especially in current hotspots such as Bac Ninh, Bac Giang, HCMC and Hanoi. These hotspots are also home to many industrial parks and export processing zones.
Enterprises under Vinatex said they are willing to use their own money to vaccinate their workers against Covid-19. The cost is estimated at VND100-200 billion.
“We hope the Covid-19 vaccination will be prioritized for workers in the textile and garment sector so that we can stabilize our production in the coming time,” Duong said.
Local firms boost processed mango exports to U.S.
Due to difficulties in exporting Vietnam’s fresh mangoes, many firms have invested in processing to boost the consumption of processed mangoes in foreign markets, mainly the United States.
In the first three months of the year, Vietnam was the United States’ 13th largest mango supplier, according to the Import-Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
During the three-month period, the U.S. increased its import of dried mangoes and mango juice from Vietnam. Vietnam shipped 97 tons of mango juice worth US$102,600 to the American market, skyrocketing by 340% in volume and 160.5% in value year-on-year. The country’s export of dried mangoes to the United States reached 68 tons worth US$83,000.
Despite the modest volume, fostering the export of processed products is a growth trend for Vietnamese mango, said many firms.
Nguyen Dinh Tung, general director of Vina T&T Group, told the Saigon Times that the export of fresh fruits, including mango, had faced multiple difficulties due to high transport costs and the prolonged transportation time, while fresh fruits also have a short shelf life. Besides, many countries have erected technical barriers to fresh fruits to protect local products and customers, he said.
Taking the U.S. market as an example, he said that in the past, it took 20-23 days to ship goods by sea from Vietnam to the market, but now, the transport time is 30-35 days. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s preservation technology keeps mangoes fresh for a mere 30 days.
“Sometimes, the fresh mangoes arrived in the U.S. market, but reached the expiration date and were not sold to customers,” Tung said.
Dang Phuc Nguyen, general secretary of the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetables Association, said that since 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic emerged, many fruit exporters have sought ways to adapt to the new market situation.
Due to high transport costs and the shortage of containers, many firms which specialize in exporting fresh products have shifted to processed products for shipments.
“Processed mangoes have a longer shelf life than fresh ones and do not face severe competition from the products of other countries,” Nguyen said.
Statistics indicated that in 2020, Vietnam shipped some US$800 million worth of processed vegetables and fruits to the United States, accounting for 25% of the total value of veggie and fruit exports, while the proportion was 10%-15% in 2019.
In addition, Europe and other countries are raising their consumption of Vietnam’s processed fruit, mainly dried mangoes and mango juice, urging many local exporters to upgrade and improve their machines and technology and expand production to ramp up the capacity of processing fruits and meet demands.
“This year, Vietnam’s export of processed fruits, including mangoes, is expected to soar by 30% against last year,” said Nguyen.
Vietnam shipped an estimated US$400 million of vegetables and fruits to foreign countries in May, up 48.3% year-on-year, sending the country’s export value of these products in the first five months of the year to US$1.77 billion, up 18% year-on-year.
In 2020, Vietnam exported 2,100 tons of mangoes worth US$4.6 million to America, up 66% in volume and 70% in value against 2019, while the latter bought 1,150 tons of frozen mangoes from Vietnam, up 38% from the 2019 figure.
Unsecured debts require regulation
Unsecured loan sales may see growth accelerated in response to a Vietnamese government ban on debt collection services – however, experts believed a clearer legal framework and firmer rules would help spur a more substantial unsecured debts market.
The package of nine debts includes small loans, valued from VND1.68 million ($73) to VND17.58 million ($770). The consumer loans are unsecured and the starting selling prices are equal to their book value. The total value of nine debts is around VND75.5 million ($3,300).
The bank will select the buyer with the highest bid that is at least equal to the starting price of each debt. The starting price does not include any costs regarding to fee for ownership transfer and other costs, if any, when purchasing the debt.
These costs shall be solely borne by the auction winner. The down payment is also equal to the starting price of the debt.
“Loan sales are not a new phenomenon. Collateral-backed loans are quite common as a part of banks’ asset and liability management,” said Truong Thanh Duc, director of ANVI Law Firm. “They often sell loan packages with collateral such as real estate, machinery, equipment, factories, and cars, among others, while unsecured consumer loans sales are among the first of its kind for a commercial bank.”
A representative of VietinBank said that selling consumer loans is one of the bank’s normal operations, according to regulations, to handle and recover debts.
“Perhaps this is the first time that a commercial bank has offered unsecured loans sales to the public, so it attracts a tonne of attention. We will continue follow our precedent cases on debt sales. At the first stage, we set the initial price equal to book value. If these debts cannot be sold, we would lower the price later on,” the representative said.
Duc of ANVI said that it is not just “a walk in the park” to sell consumer loans at a book value, coupled with interest and late payment penalty interest. Banks can only sell loans at a price equal to 50-70 per cent of their book value even for collateral-backed ones.
The question of whether or not VietinBank could successfully execute their sales still remains unanswered, but it could set a precedent for other lenders to follow suit.
Financial expert Huynh Trung Minh noted that in other countries, trading unsecured debts is familiar to financial institutions and debt buyers, and consumer debts are important for buyers to expand their customers’ database and information.
According to Vietnam’s revised Law on Investment, debt-collecting businesses are now banned in Vietnam as part of local government action to protect customers’ rights.
However, this is considered a strict approach to consumer finance companies, since the majority of their customers are underbanked or unbanked.
Currently, there are nearly 20 consumer finance companies operating in the country. In the last 10 years, FE Credit has emerged as the top player, accounting for around 52 per cent of market share, far ahead of the rivals Home Credit (17 per cent) and HD Saison (11 per cent).
Masataka “Sam” Yoshida, head of the Cross-border Division of RECOF Corporation and CEO of RECOF Vietnam said, “Putting a stop to the operation of debt collectors poses challenges to lenders or creditors where their collection performance will be affected. Consumer finance companies need to make changes to meet these evolving regulatory requirements. This will be inconvenient, time-consuming, and expensive at first but creates an opportunity for the consumer finance companies to rethink their collections strategies and operations.”
On the other hand, Duc of ANVI shared his concern that it would be tough to take advantage of unsecured debts. Therefore, he hypothesised that the sale of the debts is just another approach to dodge the debt collection service ban. Duc also stated most debt collectors, after the Law on Investment took effect, have not dissolved, but instead converted their business to debt trading/buying to be legally in line with the current law.
If banks can sell their unsecured loans, it is likely that they will transfer their debts to ensure operational efficiency. Furthermore, driving forces behind loan sales may stem from a better cashflow statement and financial information to the public.
“We might also see an increasing trend of selling or trading the debts from those who are not strong enough in debt collection. Debt sales can be an effective tool for certain accounts, especially those with low expected recoveries. However, it might be better implemented if policies and procedures for debt sales could have clearer guidance from the government,” Yoshida of RECOF added.
Investors pointing to upbeat momentum
Vietnam’s generally effective control of the health crisis and improvement of the investment and business climate have further strengthened the confidence of investors in the country.
Over the next few weeks, the province will hold an online investment promotion conference to attract more Japanese funding. The event is expected to be joined by 40-50 Japanese companies, mostly operating in manufacturing and processing.
Currently, the province is instructing 10 foreign investors to complete dossiers, which are expected to be licensed this year with the total registered capital of $576 million, including some big projects involving liquefied natural gas warehousing ($200 million), refrigerator equipment ($90 million), and environmental protection ($160 million).
According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), Quang Ninh is a typical example among many localities as good destinations for FDI in Vietnam, where the business and investment climate is significantly improving.
Despite causing grave consequences worldwide, COVID-19 has as yet been unable to prevent FDI inflows to Vietnam for the long term, and rising manufacturing, with both being major drivers of Vietnam’s economic growth this year and beyond.
For 2021 up to May 20, the total of newly-registered, added capital, and capital contributions as well as share purchases hit $14 billion, up 0.8 per cent on-year. Notably, the newly-registered capital hit $8.83 billion, up 18.6 per cent on-year, and the added capital reached $3.86 billion, up 11.7 per cent on-year.
FDI disbursement hit $7.15 billion, up 6.7 per cent on-year, thanks to production and business recovery.
The MPI said many major foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) are expanding in Vietnam, which is again restricting COVID-19 to only a handful of already locked-down areas.
For example, CEVA Logistics (Vietnam) under global logistics and supply chain company CEVA Logistics is now boosting recruitment of more employees for many positions. Under the business plan of CEVA Logistics Vietnam, the firm is expanding its network to ship goods to the US, which was Vietnam’s largest export market, with total turnover of $ 37.6 billion in the first five months of 2021, up 49.8 per cent on-year.
“In Vietnam, the company’s total revenue in the first quarter from freight shipping increased about 30 per cent on-year,” Nguyen Thanh Van, head of Contract Logistics at CEVA Vietnam, told VIR. “It is expected that the rate will be about 20-35 per cent for the entire year.”
According to the General Statistics Office, businesses such as CEVA have contributed greatly to the country’s goods transportation which hit 739 million tonnes in the first five months of 2021, up 10.5 per cent as compared to the same period last year, when the rate declined 8 per cent on-year. Also in the first five months, Vietnam’s total export-import turnover is estimated to hit $262.2 billion, including $130.94 billion from exports – up 30.7 per cent on-year, and $131.3 billion from imports – up 36.4 per cent on-year.
A World Business Outlook Survey conducted released two weeks ago by the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad said that German businesses are showing optimism about Vietnam’s economy.
“Vietnam is still one of the countries with the fastest economic growth in Southeast Asia,” said the report. “German business leaders in Vietnam maintain a positive view with the economic expectation as well as with their situation in Vietnam and they look forward to a recovered year of 2021 and 2022.”
According to the General Statistics Office (GSO), in the first five months of this year, the economy’s index for industrial production (IIP) climbed 9.9 per cent as compared to that of only 1 per cent in the same period last year. Notably the manufacturing and processing sector, which creates 80 per cent of the nation’s industrial growth, ascended 12.6 per cent in comparision with that of merely 2.2 per cent in the corresponding period of 2020.
The IIP in May expanded 11.6 per cent over the same period last year, when the IIP declined 3.1 per cent on-year.
The GSO also reported that, in the first five months of 2021, the economy witnessed 55,800 enterprises newly established, registered at VND778.3 trillion ($33.84 billion) and employing 412,400 new labourers, up 15.4 per cent in the number of enterprises and 39.5 per cent in registered capital.
If another VND975.1 trillion ($42.4 billion) registered by 19,100 operational enteprises was included, the total capital supplemented into the economy in the period was VND1.753 quadrillion ($76.2 billion), up 27.5 per cent on-year. Moreover, 22,600 businesses resumed their operations, up 3.9 per cent on-year. Source: General Statistics Office
Virus-hit provinces seek continuation of production
The people of the two northern provinces of Bac Giang and Bac Ninh are demonstrating their mettle in the fight against recent coronavirus outbreaks, retaining production to protect supply chains as much as possible.
Amishh Rajnikant Jaitha, CEO of Spica Elastic Vietnam Co., Ltd. in Bac Ninh’s Que Vo IZ, said that the interruption recently has caused a lot of challenges to its 45 partners, especially some key ones that have 8,000-12,000 workers. “My company is operating four factories and four offices in separate places. We have asked office staff to work from home, and office areas will be accommodation for other workers. We have bought a lot of beds, and built some more bathrooms for them to live,” Jaitha said.
Dang Thi Kien Chung, head of Planning for ITM Semiconductor Vietnam in Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) said, “That is the best solution to keep employees safe and resume factory operations. Safety is the goal that all of us should pay attention to, in order to confirm our responsibilities to society.”
A representative of Wisol Hanoi, also in VSIP said, “Instead of buying beds, we provided individual tents to make some privacy for workers. At living areas there are services such as wi-fi, air conditioners and purifier, clothes extractor, and the toilets have become bathrooms. They are also fed meals each day,” she said.
Bui Hoang Mai, director of the Bac Ninh Industrial Zones Management Authority said over 500 businesses resumed last week after careful preparation. “The board has established 40 delegations to check and guide factories and facilities to ensure safety. If enterprises are stuck or face some difficulties, they can report to us or the provincial government to ask for some help and resume operations as soon as possible.”
As of June 3, there were 951 positive COVID-19 cases in Bac Ninh, including almost 250 cases at businesses. Over 35,700 vaccines were administered for local people, and 90,000 workers in IZs are expected to be vaccinated this week.
In a meeting last week with Deputy Prime Minister Le Van Thanh, Chairwoman of Bac Ninh People’s Committee Nguyen Huong Giang proposed the government to provide an additional 500,000 antigen rapid tests, and support businesses hit by the pandemic with policies such as tax exemption or extension. She also proposed the state budget to provide around $21.7 million to the province to promptly prevent the pandemic from damaging the area further.
Before resuming operations, businesses have to meet all regulations on preventing and fighting against COVID-19 like negative tests and safe distancing in the factories; as well as setting up accommodation areas for employees. Bac Ninh and Bac Giang authorities continue to closely work with the delegations of the Ministry of Health to manage the pandemic before allowing businesses back into operation.
As of the end of June 4, there were 2,819 cases in Bac Giang positive with COVID-19, including about 380 cases in Van Trung IZ and 1,700 cases in Quang Chau IZ.
Cooperation plans still on hold amid railway system revamp
While state-owned giant Vietnam Railways’ new restructuring plan is expected to leverage private investment in the ailing railway industry, the track to prosperity remains steep.
Vu Anh Minh, chairman of VNR – the operator of the country’s railway network – told VIR, “We will keep the merger of Haraco and Saratrans, the two largest train operators in Vietnam, under VNR and then proceed with the establishment. The submission of the separation to the prime minister for approval is expected within June.”
VNR expected that it will be able to attract private investment for its development plans when the separation is approved. Thus, in the establishment of a cargo transport company, stakes are being planned to sell for potential investors.
The separation also includes investment in construction of warehouses and inland container depots (ICDs); upgrading and development of railway stations into trade centres and offices for lease in line with the Law on Railways 2017; and upgrading of railway routes connecting with China to develop international railway transportation.
“When the separation and restructuring plan is approved, the new changes will enable the company’s partnership with private firms in hundreds of stations and ICDs to more effectively tap into their available potential, thus enabling us to move faster,” Minh noted.
Industry insiders, however, said that it is impossible that there will be any significant foreign interest in railways, although transport is one of the six sectors covered in the Law on Public-Private Partnership Investment, which took effect from January.
Railways have proven difficult for the public-private partnership (PPP) model in many countries worldwide, with Vietnam being not an exception. More opportunities might come for domestic private firms instead. To enable this, the master scheme in line with implementation of Decree No.46/2018/ND-CP governing the management and use of railway infrastructure assets, should be approved, with VNR’s proposal to hand over 297 railway stations, warehouses, and ICDs to the giant to own, use, and develop with assets to be recorded as state capital contribution to the operator to be included.
However, the master scheme remains at odds with the VNR proposal, and so no final conclusion has yet been made. Legal barriers have so far hindered VNR from making the next steps with its cooperation plans with its partners, and many of its projects as well as investors have been suffering as a result.
In 2017, VNR signed a cooperation agreement with Saigon Newport Corporation to develop ICDs and warehouses at Song Than, Dieu Tri, Yen Vien, Dong Anh, and Dong Dang stations, with the plan to develop more in the future to meet demands. However, the projects have not yet been carried out.
Similarly, Lotte E&C’s proposal to invest in the second phase of the upgrading of the Yen Vien-Lao Cai railway route has been on paper for years, while Japanese auto giant Toyota is seeking to build a railway route connecting its factory in the northern province of Vinh Phuc to the main North-South network, using the Danang railway station as a transhipment hub to other provinces in the central region.
Furthermore, Southern Airports Services JSC has sought a partnership with VNR in upgrading the Saigon Railway Station building. Many other initiatives remain stuck because of Decree 46.
In 2017 when the restructuring plan of VNR was first submitted to authorised agencies, the giant planned for the restructuring by 2020, but inevitable disagreements and legal issues have dragged the proposals into the 2021-2025 period instead.
The separation of the railway network is important at this time as the new restructuring plan is still waiting for completion of a new order that replaces 2017’s Decision No.707/QD-TTg on approving the restructuring of state-owned enterprises. At present, the draft master plan on restructuring of such enterprises for 2021-2025 is still being completed by the Ministry of Finance.
In the last 10 years, the railway sector has failed to mobilise resources for its development plans. State funding for railways, despite an increase, was just $174-196 million annually over the period, which has been mostly used for maintenance works and social security, and not for development plans.
IFC promotes Vietnam’s PPE production capacity for COVID-19 fight
As the significant shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in many countries has impacted the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 18 months, IFC is supporting PPE manufacturers in developing nations including Vietnam to supply reliable and quality PPE products to protect frontline health workers and reduce community transmission.
Given the unprecedented pandemic, the global demand for high-quality PPE products – face masks, medical gloves, safety glasses and shoes, respirators, coveralls, vests, and full bodysuits – increased three to four times between 2019 and 2020, according to a recent study funded by the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).
In Vietnam, PPE manufacturing capacity surged with a 6-fold jump in production in 2020 and the country has emerged as one of the new PPE suppliers globally. This ramped-up supply was initially driven by textile manufacturers shifting production in response to the health emergency and to mitigate losses caused by cancelled orders for garments.
“Some textile manufacturers who started producing PPE products as an immediate response to the pandemic, are now considering the medium- to longer-term business opportunity in this area,” said Vu Duc Giang, chairman of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS). “However, local manufacturers have struggled with insufficient input materials, technical skills, and sector knowledge, and disparity between local and international standards to access the global market.”
In response, as part of the global PPE advisory programme supported by the UK government, the IFC is working with local garment manufacturers through the VITAS and national labs through the Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality of Vietnam (STAMEQ). The aim is to improve PPE producers’ operations and reduce costs by removing unnecessary burdens related to PPE standards and conformity assessments.
A kick-off webinar – PPE Supply and Demand Perspectives – was organised today in Hanoi in collaboration with VITAS. This is the first of a series to boost PPE-related industry knowledge, with a focus on technical requirements and standards for PPE products in different markets.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the resilience of supply chains to the limit, especially on medical supplies including PPE. The UK believes that the diversification of PPE manufacturing will make the global supply chain more adaptable and prevent future disruption,” said Gareth Ward, British Ambassador to Vietnam. “I am very pleased that Vietnam has been chosen as a priority country for this UK government-funded programme. Vietnamese companies have a lot of potential to succeed globally with a skilled labour force.”
Over the next 18 months, the project will also support select manufacturers to scale quality PPE production, access reliable supply of materials and equipment, and achieve PPE international standards and certification to expand exports.
“Access to cost-effective and quality PPE products is vital to national COVID-19 responses, helping contain and manage the spread of the coronavirus,” said Kyle Kelhofer, country manager for Vietnam, Cambodia and Lao PDR. “Promoting the production of PPE products in compliance with international standards not only helps increase Vietnam’s resilience to the pandemic but also presents a business case as the PPE global supply chain is diversifying with opportunities for new manufacturers from emerging markets including Vietnam.”
In January 2021, the IFC and the UK government launched a global PPE advisory programme to increase the supply of COVID-related PPE products to developing countries – as part of the IFC’s COVID-19 response and under the IFC’s Global Health Platform. The IFC’s platform was launched in July 2020 and includes up to $4 billion financing to increase access to critical healthcare services and products to fight the pandemic in the developing world.
Foreign investors from South Korea continue ramping up investment in Dong Nai
Investors from South Korea are looking to increase investment in Dong Nai in the midst of the global health crisis.
South Korean Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Kang Myong-il said that many South Korean companies wanted to expand investment in the province. However, their projects have been suspended due to travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once the pandemic is controlled and trade flows between two countries return to normal, a new wave of South Korean investment is expected to flow into Dong Nai. South Korean investors highly appreciated Dong Nai’s potential in the field of industrial production, technical infrastructure, and real estate sector.
Some South Korean investors have made big investment in the province including Changshin’s $100 million footwear factory in Tan Phu Industrial Zone (IZ), Hansol Technics’s $100 million electronic component factory in Ho Nai IZ and Intops’ $30 million electronic equipment factory in Amata.
The representative of Hansol Technics said that the company decided to develop its factory in Dong Nai due to the province’s developed IZs and convenient traffic. The company specialises in manufacturing electronic components so the investment in Dong Nai will facilitate it to source input products from other partners.
Park Hyun Bae, chairman of the Korean Business Association in Dong Nai is upbeat about the potential of Dong Nai to lure foreign direct investment (FDI) capital in the industrial, energy, service, trade, and supporting industries. Despite the pandemic, many Korean businesses have requested information about Dong Nai. They hope that when the COVID-19 pandemic is contained, it will be easier for them to travel to the province to register new investment. Indeed, South Korean investors are looking to rent big land sites in Dong Nai to carry out large projects to produce electronic components, fabrics for the textile, footwear, as well as machinery and equipment.
As of present, South Korea is the second-largest import market of Dong Nai, following China. The province mainly buys materials to produce textile, apparel, footwear, computers, electronic components, equipment, tools, and spare parts. On average, local companies spend $200 million importing materials from South Korea.
Obstacles hindering O Mon III venture
The O Mon III thermal power plant in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho is facing lingering issues related to investment policy and responsibility, leading to the protracted delay in part of the gas project.
After the Law on Public Investment took effect in 2020, the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) proposed to the prime minister to apply the provisions of the law to appraise and decide on the investment policy for the O Mon III. Meanwhile, the ministry proposed amendment and supplement of Decision No.1015/QD-TTg dated August 2019 on the establishment of a state appraisal council to appraise the project’s feasibility study. However, some obstacles have emerged during the implementation of investment policies, especially the authority to approve investment policies.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), the MPI, the National Steering Committee for Power Development, and the Commission for the Management of State Capital at Enterprises (CMSC) have submitted many reports to the government to tackle difficulties in the investment procedures for the project.
Last December the government submitted a report to the National Assembly Standing Committee on this issue. According to its conclusion, the use of official development assistance (ODA) loans for enterprises to borrow 100 per cent for the O Mon III is not within the scope of the Law on Public Investment as well as under the prime minister’s authority to approve investment policies. It has been nearly two years since EVN submitted the project to the CMSC to request for investment policy. However, the authority to approve the investment policy for this project has not been determined.
The O Mon III was approved by the government to be on the list of ODA projects funded by the Japanese government in 2012. EVN was the investor of the project and signed the ODA loan contract with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). In 2013, Vietnam and Japan signed a commitment note to grant the first loan worth $254 billion for the O Mon III. The JICA loan agreement would be signed by the parties following the result of negotiation and signing of a gas purchase and sale contract.
Foreign investors have often raised their voices about the obstacles hindering the Block B gas project. In 2015, US oil giant Chevron decided to withdraw from the project by transferring stakes to PetroVietnam.
In July 2020, Japan’s Mitsui Oil Exploration Co., Ltd. (MOECO) and Thailand’s PTT Exploration and Production Public Co., Ltd. (PTTEP) also submitted letters to the prime minister about their concerns for the slow approval of the onshore power project, which has caused tremendous challenges for the Block B gas project chain and delayed the final investment decision (FID). Thus, the target of the first gas flow by the end of 2023 will be missed.
Two months later the foreign investors sent another letter to the prime minister noting that the first gas for the project is expected in September 2024 at the earliest. Due to the delayed approval of investment policy, the investors could not make the FID in 2020 while the first gas flow by the end of 2023 became infeasible.
EVN said the delayed approval of the investment policy is due to the inability to identify the agency responsible for this project, which slows down the progress and efficiency of the project chain. Meanwhile, the wellhead gas price has been calculated since 2016 with the price slippage of 2.5 per cent per year and the transportation price slippage of 2 per cent a year, which has raised investment and electric production costs.
Commenting on the conditions for borrowing ODA loans from JICA, EVN said that the plan has better economic efficiency than the commercial loan plan. In addition, the Japanese government has confirmed to continue to provide ODA loans for the O Mon III. However, to make efficient use of the loans, it needs to establish the authority to approve investment policy for the project. Up to now, the project is still waiting for the amended decree to be approved for implementation.
To issue the amended decree, it is necessary to get feedback from relevant ministries and sectors. It will take a great deal of time, even though FID needs to be made this October.
EVN has formulated a plan to use domestic and foreign commercial loans to remove bottlenecks at the O Mon III. With this plan, the power generation progress of the project will take place in the third quarter of 2026, 18 months earlier than the plan of using the ODA loan. However, the biggest obstacle for the new plan is the increase in the total investment, mainly due to the loan interest.
On May 7, the Government Office issued a document announcing the opinion of Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh, assigning the CMSC to cooperate with the MoIT and relevant agencies to handle EVN’s proposal and report it to the prime minister soon.
In 2018, when calculating the O Mon III and IV projects using gas fuel, EVN proposed the electricity selling price of VND2,355 (10 US cents) per kWh and a maximum of about VND2,840 (12 US cents) per kWh to ensure efficient financing of these projects.
The Block B gas pipelines are being implemented by Phu Quoc Petroleum Operating Company (PQPOC) and South West Pipeline Operating Company (SWPOC), along with PTTEP and MOECO. The approval of O Mon III is the premise to finish commercial negotiations and select the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor.
The bidding packages will expire in bid validity in October, and investors expect the investment policy to be issued by August to open commercial bidding packages. If delays continue, PQPOC could have to extend the EPC bidding validity for the fifth time for contractors. In the worst scenario, PQPOC would have to reorganise the international bidding, which would likely delay the whole project for more than a year.
Inflation reined in as materials prices rise through year
Despite a big rise in the prices of construction materials and fuel, a 5-year low in the consumer price index caused by weak demand in the first five months of 2021 is signalling a successful control of inflation.
“Weak demand at home and in the global market are generally there. In the first five months, prices have increased, but not too strongly. COVID-19 has led to tightened spending,” Anh said.
According to the General Statistics Office (GSO), in the first five months of 2021, the average 5-month consumer price index expanded 1.29 per cent on-year, the lowest ascension in the period since 2016 (see chart).
Vietnam is using prices of 11 groups of items to measure the inflation rate in the country. In the period, the average price of the groups rose by about over 1 per cent on-year. Notably in the group of housing and materials, in which the average price rose 4.42 per cent on-year, the steel price has augmented strongly.
The Vietnam Steel Association was cited by the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Department of Industrial Economy as reporting that due to a rise in input material prices in the global market, the domestic price of steel products has also climbed strongly. In May the average steel billet price hovered at VND14,000 (60 US cents) per kg, up 30 per cent against that in early last December.
The price of construction steel in Vietnam in early May increased in parallel with the rise in steel material price. For example, the price of iron ores on May 5 was around $190 per tonne at China’s Tianjin Port, up by about $50 per tonne or up 25-39 per cent as compared to that in early December. This has caused a big rise in the price of the domestic steel market in the first quarter and the beginning of the second quarter.
“The price of materials is likely to highly increase,” said department director Le Tuan Anh.
In the same vein, the price of oil globally has also increased. By late last week, oil prices rose by more than 3 per cent on renewed optimism about global demand as global vaccinations continue.
Goldman Sachs is expecting the price of global crude oil to rise to $80 per barrel by the end of the year. “The case for higher oil prices therefore remains intact given the large vaccine-driven increase in demand in the face of inelastic supply,” Goldman analysts said.
So far this year, the number of enterprises halting operations was 59,800, up 23 per cent on-year. On average, each month has seen nearly 12,000 enterprises withdraw. This has also reduced demand for goods in the market.
Global analysts FocusEconomics told VIR in a statement that price pressures in Vietnam this year are expected to ease slightly compared to 2020 amid a projected appreciation of the VND, with panelists seeing inflation average well below the government’s estimate of 4 per cent.
“FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panelists expect inflation to average 2.9 per cent in 2021. For 2022, the panel projects inflation to average 3.6 per cent,” read the FocusEconomics statement.
Vietnam to shortern quarantine period for fully-vaccinated people
Vietnam is mulling to reduce the quarantine period for vaccinated foreign experts and Vietnamese people stranded overseas to seven days.
Specifcailly, the MoH is urgently completing the process of receiving experts and Vietnamese people to Vietnam. The ministry is developing a closed management process from the time of immigration registration to concentrated quarantine and medical monitoring at home.
It is expected that people entering Vietnam will be classified into different groups. Vaccinated people are subject to various coronavirus tests to confirm the effectiveness of vaccination. The main reason is that at present vaccines are 70-90 per cent effective. If they test negative, the quarantine period will be shortened to seven days.
The committee expected that the COVID-19 pandemic will be contained by June but there are still some sporadic cases in the community. It will not be easy to achieve herd immunity soon given vaccination efforts in Vietnam and many countries around the world. Therefore, the forces should always be alert to prevent and fight the epidemic.
Relaxing quarantine rules for fully vaccinated business people and foreign experts will help ensure the investment and trade flow between Vietnam and the world.
According to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs, there are nearly 8,500 highly-skilled foreign workers on a priority list to enter Vietnam. They involve some 2,000 employees of key national projects that use new technologies.
Live streaming in Vietnam growing more popular for agricultural business
Farmers across the country have picked up live-streaming to boost sales amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With live streaming, millions of customers can keep track of how we harvest lychee,” said a farmer. “We received many orders after each live stream.”
Regarding the activities, Nguyen Dac Viet Dung, chairman of Sendo said, “As the pandemic is growing more serious, we hope to aid farmers to efficiently approach new technologies such as live streaming to form a firmer foundation for the agricultural sector.”
A representative of Shopee also said that the Shopee Farm programme is expected to help farmers to shift to online business models to take advantage of e-commerce like other vendors selling clothes and cosmetics.
Indeed, live streaming for agriculture is an inevitable trend in Vietnam, said Nguyen Hoa Binh, chairman of Nextech Group which operates live streaming skill training institution NextOn.
“Before Vietnam, China was very successful in adopting the live streaming model for agricultural businesses,” said Binh. “Many trends in China also take root in Vietnam and the rest of Southeast Asia in 2-3 three years.”
A prime example for the success of agriculture in e-commerce is Hubei, a Chinese province, where farmers began to sell their produce online with live streaming to overcome the health crisis. As a result, over the first quarter of 2020, revenue from online sales in the province saw an on-year growth of 184 per cent with hundreds of millions of RMBs.
In the 1.4-billion population market of China, live streaming is a core part of online sales and has become a skill most retailers in the country demand from their staff members.
In particular, in last May, the country’s Ministry of Labour and Social Security listed retail live streaming as one of the top 10 new sectors generated by Industry 4.0.
As of the end of 2020, China had about 600 million people purchasing goods after watching live streams, and 250 million vendors (16 per cent of the country’s population) have adopted the business.
As the pandemic grew more serious last year, live streaming has became a lifebuoy for all corners of Chinese society. Leaders of local authorities, billionaire Jack Ma, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and even farmers use live-streaming services.
Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes
At least 55 employees of the HCMC Hospital for Tropical Diseases were recently infected with the coronavirus despite having received two shots of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
The hospital, HCMC’s frontline facility for treating Covid-19 patients, was locked down starting Saturday after three employees of its IT and admin departments were found infected with the coronavirus. That cluster later ballooned to a total of 55 cases as of Monday morning.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the vaccine has been ineffective, experts say. All the vaccinated cases are largely asymptomatic, showing little chance of developing into severe cases or becoming new infection sources to others in the community.
Tran Tinh Hien, a director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit and former director of the HCMC Hospital for Tropical Diseases, said “there is no vaccine with 100 percent protection rate from infections.”
A survey of vaccinated U.K. citizens from December last year to February revealed that the AstraZeneca vaccine has a 60 percent efficacy 28 days after the second shot. Another report in medical journal Lancet also said the AstraZeneca vaccine helped reduce instances of symptomatic Covid-19 cases, as well as severe ones and fatalities, Hien noted.
“At the HCMC Hospital for Tropical Diseases or in any other community which has been vaccinated, a 5-10 percent rate of coronavirus-positive cases doesn’t mean the vaccine has failed,” he said.
Le Quoc Hung, head of the Infectious Disease Department of HCMC’s Cho Ray Hospital, echoed Hien’s opinion, adding that the virus would find it much harder to replicate inside a vaccinated person, which lowers the chance of that person passing on the virus to someone else.
The AstraZeneca vaccine also provides the best protection against the coronavirus four to six weeks after the second shot, so people could still get infected in the time frame before full protection, he said.
“Four weeks following the second shot, the chance of being infected is reduced, but that doesn’t mean there’s no chance,” Hung said, adding that the occurrence of infection doesn’t mean the vaccine’s not effective.
Hung said the vaccine helps generate antibodies, but if not enough antibodies have formed, either because a person has received only one shot or not enough time has passed for the body to generate enough antibodies, one can still get infected.
And depending on a person’s physiology, it can happen that one is fully vaccinated and still not generated enough antibodies to completely block an infection, he added.
The viral load in the 55 infected employees at the hospital was “extremely low,” Nguyen Tan Binh, director of the HCMC Department of Health, said Monday. He did not specify how low the load was.
“It is a good sign that shows the vaccine’s effectiveness,” Binh said.
Vietnam has launched a mass Covid-19 vaccination program using the AstraZeneca vaccine since early March. So far, around 1.5 million people have been vaccinated.
UNICEF welcomes Vietnam’s approval of programme on child protection online
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has welcomed the approval of a programme to protect and support children to interact in cyber environment in a healthy and creative manner in the 2021-2025 period by Vietnamese Government.
This is the first national-level programme on child protection in the cyber environment.
UNICEF Representative in Vietnam Rana Flowers said that the Internet brings many opportunities, but also many risks. The new programme approved by Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has taken into account the need to strike a balance between addressing the threats to children and the promising changes that the digital environment might deliver to them.
It is about connecting children with innovative learning methods, problem solving, and enhancing the understanding and skills they need to succeed in the digital world, she said.
According to Rana Flowers, solving the problem of child abuse on the Internet requires the commitment of the Government and the self-regulation of online platforms as well as management agencies.
However, the prevention of abuse in the cyber environment will only be successful when there is the active and full participation of parents and children themselves equipped with information about risks as well as preventive measures and report online abuse.
She said the UNICEF expressed its concern about children’s safety in the cyber environment in five key areas. That is adults unintentionally provide too much information for child abusers to commit crimes; children spend too much time playing violent games online; children are persuaded by friends or bad people to share their sensitive images; children are vulnerable to online fraud, bullying, and abuse by pedophiles who pretend to be of their same age.
When abuse occurs on a cyber environment, parents are often unaware of the risks and do not know what their children are going through online. For children, they will feel lonely and sad. When bullying happens at school, everyone can see it, but when it happens online, cruelty and abuse can have a significant impact on children’s mental health and self-esteem, making them feel isolated and lonely, Flowers said.
Parents should spend time talking with their children, identifying protection strategies and encouraging children to stand up for each other, promote kindness and protect each other from abuse, she added.
The UNICEF representative also called on people to act together to make the internet a safe environment for children to learn, communicate and express themselves.
According to a recent UNICEF survey, many young people in Vietnam are victims of cyberbullying but three-quarters of them don’t know where they can seek support. More and more cases of sex crimes and child trafficking are being reported. However, few measures have been taken to protect them from the dangers of abuse by the digital world or access to health content on the Internet in a safe way.
With the programme to protect children in the cyber environment, the UNICEF expected the Government of Vietnam to work with the information and communication technology industry to keep up with the pace of change and protect children from dangers, harmful effects as well as ensuring that the internet is always safe for children, she said.
The private sector and civil society should be encouraged to offer different solutions and opportunities to protect children online, she added.
Under Decision No 830 signed by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, the national programme on child protection online aims to protect the privacy of children and prevent and handle acts of abuse. Specifically, the programme focuses on supplying children with age-appropriate knowledge and skills so that children can self-identify and be able to protect themselves when online.
The programme includes initiatives in deploying new technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data to automatically collect and analyse early warnings on the content not suitable for children.
Websites with the national “.vn” domain and those with IP addresses in Vietnam will be required to self-categorise content suitable for children’s ages. Those who provide online services and applications for children have to self-deploy solutions to protect children and assist parents or caregivers in managing children’s use of applications and services.
Network operators and digital platform providers such as Google, Facebook, and Zalo will apply artificial intelligence technology and big data analysis to filter videos and clips with malicious content./.
More than 93,000 students in Hanoi take high school entrance exams
More than 93,000 students in Hanoi began their high school entrance exams on June 12.
On the morning of the first day, they took a 90-minute Vietnamese literature test and a 45-minute foreign language test. On the morning of June 13, they will do mathematics and history tests with a duration of 90 minutes and 45 minutes, respectively.
The candidates have a 30-minute break between the two consecutive tests.
The city’s Department of Education and Training has established 184 testing sites, including 3,988 testing rooms, and mobilised more than 14,500 education officials, teachers and staff teachers to serve the exams across the city. Backup exam rooms and medical staff were also set up at every exam venue.
This year’s exams took place amid the complicated developments of COVID-19, the city’s authorities making thorough preparations to ensure the safety of students as well as the security of the exams.
Accordingly, all students were asked to complete health declaration forms online before June 11 and strictly follow the Ministry of Health’s 5K message – khau trang (facemask), khu khuan (disinfection), khoang cach (distance), khong tu tap (no gathering), and khai bao y te (health declaration). Social distancing protocols were set up and drills conducted to ensure students are properly distanced during the exams./.
HCM City vows to speed up COVID vaccination
Ho Chi Minh City will speed up COVID-19 vaccination, Nguyen Thanh Phong, chairman of its People’s Committee, told an online meeting on June 11.
A team led by People’s Committee vice chairman Duong Anh Duc and health experts will be set up to carry out procedures related to negotiations for vaccine supplies, consultations and organisation of inoculations, he said.
The city aims to vaccinate two thirds of its population this year, has a roadmap with a priority list of people because of limited supply yet, but would also ensure a sufficient number of people get vaccinated, he said.
District 12 authorities sought permission from the People’s Committee to continue district-wide social distancing under the Government’s Directive No. 15 after 15 days of social distancing under the more stringent Directive No. 16 in its Thanh Loc ưard.
Le Truong Hai Hieu, its chairman, said Thanh Loc has not recorded more new COVID-19 cases since social distancing began.
Tan Thoi Nhat ward has the largest number of COVID-19 cases in the district, 51, he said.
The district has set up a quarantine with 100 beds at the Tran Phu Secondary School.
Nguyen Tri Dung, chairman of the Go Vap People’s Committee, said the district has had 106 COVID patients, including five whose status would be announced by the Ministry of Health.
According to the city Department of Health, the city’s largest cluster, which began in Go Vap on May 26, has seen 441 cases.
They include one each from four industrial parks. But thanks to early detection, there has been no spread from them to other workers, it said.
The city has so far controlled Go Vap cluster well, it said.
Dung said 15 days of social distancing is enough for the district.
He said locals have complied strictly with regulations on social distancing under the Directive No.16. Non-essential services enterprises have closed.
The district has seven markets, seven supermarkets, and 200 convenience stores open to keep prices steady he said.
The district also identified facilities for use as quarantine.
The Tan Binh District People’s Committee sought permission from the city for social distancing under the Directive No. 15 for one more week.
Director of the municipal Department of Health Nguyen Tan Binh said many small COVID clusters have been found this week in the city, but due to social distancing, the risk has been low.
In the clusters found in a warehouse in Hoc Mon district, Ehome apartment building in Binh Tan district and a family in Thu Duc city, only people in the infected people’s family were found infected, he said.
The city is monitoring the clusters, he said.
Binh said the city would continue to tighten preventive measures, especially at industrial parks and export processing zones, to detect, localise and stamping out outbreaks in a timely manner.
Duong Hong Thang, chairman of the Hoc Mon People’s Committee, said manual workers and street vendors should be tested since they make up 70 per cent of the district’s patients so far./.
Asian media impressed with Vietnam’s victory over Malaysia
Defeating Malaysia 2-1 in a match early on June 12, the Vietnamese football team continue to receive applause from Asian media for maintaining their impressive unbeaten streak in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers.
The hard-fought win helps the team consolidate their top spot in Group G with 17 points after seven matches, while maintaining their impressive unbeaten streak with five wins and two draws in the Asian qualifiers. Vietnam are still two points ahead of the second-placed United Arab Emirates (UAE), who won 5-0 over Indonesia in the other match the same day.
In their match report, world football governing body FIFA emphasised: “Vietnam remain unbeaten in the group thanks to Que Ngoc Hai’s late penalty that saw them edge Malaysia 2-1 in Dubai”.
In the last match, Vietnam will have a decisive game to decide the top spot in the group against the UAE, and FIFA said that this will be one of the most exciting and eagerly awaited encounters on the final match day of the 2nd qualifying round.
Meanwhile, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), in its post-match commentary, affirmed the Vietnamese team continued to consolidate their pole position in Group G after the victory over Malaysia. “The two teams came into this game on the back of entirely opposing fortunes: Malaysia had lost their last match 4-0 against the United Arab Emirates, while Vietnam had beaten Indonesia 4-0 and cemented their strong position with a win, also having avoided any losses since the Qualifiers began,” the AFC said.
Witnessing their home team once again beaten by Vietnam, the Malaysian media could not help but be disappointed. In its article published early this morning, the Malaysian national news agency (Bernama) admitted their World Cup dreams had been dashed: “One dream is over… Malaysia’s fourth defeat in five outings against Vietnam since Park Hang-seo took over as coach in 2017 means the Harimau Malaya can forget about finishing in the top two positions in Group G of the 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup second-round qualifiers”. Malaysia still have the goal of winning tickets to the 2023 Asian Cup finals, but according to Bernama, this journey will also be very difficult for them.
Sharing the same opinion, the New Straits Times acknowledged that Malaysia’s World Cup campaign had ended early this morning after the country’s football team suffered a 2-1 defeat to Vietnam. This is their fourth defeat in the last five encounters between both.
“The sad story for Malaysia is that the Vietnamese, who must be the best in Southeast Asia, always do just enough to beat us”, the New Straits Times wrote, adding that although Malaysia have several naturalised players from Brazil, Kosovar or Gambia, it is still not enough for them to beat Vietnam. “The Golden Dragons again did just enough. One goal extra for three points,” the long-standing newspaper in Malaysia wrote.
In Thailand, the country’s press also praised Park Hang Seo’s side. SiamSport wrote: “The Golden Stars continue their unbeaten record as they won 2-1 against Malaysia. Currently, Vietnam have 17 points, firmly at the top of the table with a ticket to play in the 3rd qualifying round almost certainly in their hands.”
Indonesia’s IndoSport also praised the Vietnamese team after their dramatic victory over Malaysia: “The UAE won 5-0 against Indonesia, aiming to take the top spot from Vietnam. Unfortunately, that victory was still not enough to bring Bert van Marwijk’s team to the top, because at the same time, Vietnam excelled against Malaysia in a fierce and dramatic match.”
The Korean press also congratulated Park Hang Seo’s side on their latest victory, expressing their belief that the Vietnamese team will make history if they reach the final qualifying round for the first time ever. In the Korean version of Goal, Park Byeong-gyu wrote: “The Vietnam national football team, led by coach Park Hang-seo, are about to advance to the World Cup Asian final qualifiers. It will be their first time in history if Vietnam, who lead Group G, can advance to the final qualifying round”.
On Yonhap, reporter Ahn Hong-seok also believed in the ability of the Vietnamese team to continue: “If Vietnam win or draw in their final match with the UAE on the June 15, they will advance to the final qualifiers, topping the group. Even if Vietnam lose to the UAE, there is a possibility they will advance to the final qualifier as the group’s runners-up”.
In an article published on OSEN on early June 12, the author said Park’s talent was once again confirmed, helping Vietnamese football prepare to turn a new page in its history.
To hold in their own hands the keys to an historic berth in the final stages, Park’s side need at least one point in the last match against hosts UAE. However, according to Park, Vietnam will continue to confidently aim for victory, although that goal will be more difficult against an in-form UAE.
The final match of the Vietnamese team in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in Asia against the UAE will take place at 23:45 (Hanoi time) on June 15 at the Zabeel Stadium in Dubai./.
More vaccines via COVAX Facility to arrive in Vietnam in July: UNICEF
More vaccine doses from the COVAX Facility, the global COVID-19 vaccine equity scheme, are scheduled to be delivered in Vietnam in July, UNICEF Representative in Vietnam Rana Flowers has told Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long.
Flowers and Long met in Hanoi to expedite the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to Vietnam amid the fourth coronavirus wave.
Long said Vietnam is battling the highly transmissible Delta variant of coronavirus and several decisive measures have been put in place to control the situation, including more talks with foreign manufacturers and partners for more COVID-19 vaccines and facilitating local development of home-grown vaccines.
One of Vietnam’s priorities now is to soon have enough COVID-19 vaccines for mass inoculation, he said, reiterating the request for UNICEF to work with COVAX to speed up delivery of vaccines to Vietnam in the third quarter, and the country’s commitment to using the vaccines in a fair and effective manner.
Flowers, for her part, cited a survey conducted by UNICEF and its partners found that about 67 percent of Vietnamese respondents said they are ready to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, which is quite high.
She shared concerns over the complicated developments of the current fourth wave in the country. She said that 1,910 high-capacity cold chain fridges to store vaccines – supported by Australia’s aid to Vietnam – will be delivered to Vietnam by UNICEF in late July.
UNICEF has also ordered five refrigerated trucks for transportation of vaccines and the shipment will arrive in August and September, along with some 5 million syringes via air routes.
Regarding expediting COVID-19 vaccine shipments to Vietnam via the COVAX Facility, the UNICEF official remarked that the following batch would be delivered as soon as it is approved by the World Health Organisation, scheduled for July.
UNICEF has delivered some 2.5 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to Vietnam from COVAX out of the commitment of nearly 39 million doses./.
Vietnam e-sports white book debuts
The 2021 Vietnam e-sports white book was released on June 10 by the Vietnam Recreational E-sport Association (VIRESA) and the Appota E-sports creative platform developer and provider.
This is the first-ever annual publication providing key information on e-sports for individuals, organisations, and businesses in the field, fostering its development in Vietnam.
It will also provide updates on the operations of Vietnam’s e-sports industry and analysis, as well as touch on e-sports growth amid digital transformation, the e-sports economy, and 5G and the future of the sport, among other topics, according to VIRESA.
The publication is hoped to support investors and businesses engaging in the sport and identify a suitable path forward for Vietnam’s e-sports industry, VIRESA President Nguyen Xuan Cuong said.
The global e-sports market was posting annual growth of 10-15 percent prior to COVID-19. Notably, it surpassed the 1-trillion-VND revenue milestone in 2019.
In Vietnam, the number of players surged to nearly 18 million last year as more people reached out to e-sports during the social distancing period.
The sport is listed among the official events at the upcoming 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games./.
Air-conditioned COVID-19 testing chamber put into use
A mobile air-conditioned COVID-19 testing chamber has been put into use in pandemic hotspot Bac Giang province, helping medical workers deal with the impact of hot summer weather. The chamber was built in Hanoi by Nam Viet Design, PAM Air, and Signify over the course of four days.
Unlike previous days, when medical staff in Bac Giang had to race against time to take samples for testing in extremely hot weather conditions while wearing tight medical clothing, nurse Chu Thi Thanh and her colleagues feel that collecting samples is now much easier as they work in a cool space.
The chamber weighs around 270 kg and has six wheels to make it more mobile.
Communication from the inside to the outside of the chamber and vice-versa is done through a walkie-talkie and a system controlled by smartphones. The developers of the chamber are now waiting for feedback from medical staff to make any improvements. It is hoped that more mobile chambers like this will be developed to support frontline workers in Bac Giang./.
Hanoi targets raising ratio of trained workers to 80 percent by 2030
Hanoi targets increasing the proportion of trained workers in the city to 75-80 percent by 2030 under a strategy on labour market development built by the municipal People’s Committee.
The strategy aims to provide a strong premise for developing a stable labour market, effectively mobilising and utilising human resources to boost socio-economic growth.
It is to have 80 percent of its workforce possess IT skills by 2025 and 90 percent by 2030, while reducing the overall unemployment rate to below 2.5 percent.
The number of workers engaged in the agriculture sector is to fall to below 30 percent by 2025 and 20 percent by 2030.
Hanoi expects to have a modernised labour market information system under the strategy. Its data will be linked to other regions in the country and ASEAN countries, especially main labour markets in Vietnam.
To this end, the city’s authorities will review legal documents relating to labour supply and demand, bringing them in line with labour market regulations, international conventions, and standards ratified by Vietnam and ensuring they are consistent with the legitimate interests of employees and employers.
It will develop a specific mechanism and carry out projects to support job creation for specific labour groups, such as people with disabilities, ethnic minority workers, and new graduates from universities and vocational education institutions.
Attention will be paid to training programmes to improve the skills of new graduates and existing employees to meet job requirements.
Hanoi’s authorities will also support the development of a labour market information system, introducing solutions to digitise and update employee data and sharing the database on population, business registration, and social insurance./.
Kien Giang does not let COVID affect socio–economic development
The Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang has managed outstanding socio-economic development in the first five months of this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic, according to its People’s Committee.
Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Lam Minh Thanh attributed it to authorities at all levels proactively implementing development measures. Most sectors have achieved excellent growth so far, he said.
Industrial production grew by 10.6 percent year-on-year to more than 20.4 trillion VND (870 million USD).
Its retail sales and services grew by 10 percent to 49.8 trillion VND (2.16 billion USD).
Exports were up nearly 16 percent at 317 million USD, with rice accounting for 111 million USD and seafood for 94 million USD.
Farmers in the province reaped a bumper harvest and got high prices for the 2020-2021 winter – spring rice crop to earn an average of 40 million VND (1,740 USD) per hectare, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Aquaculture output was up 9.1 percent at more than 62,000 tonnes.
The province targets total exports of 750 million USD this year, and to step up promotion of agricultural products to expand export markets and boost the output of key items rice and seafood.
Kien Giang has been the country’s largest rice producer for long, and more than 50 percent of its workforce is in the agricultural sector.
The province has implemented various measures to develop agriculture, especially rice and seafood production, in recent years.
They include developing efficient faming models adapted to climate change and sustainable development.
The province is developing the large-scale rice field model in which farmers pool their fields, grow the same rice varieties, use the same farming techniques and have the same crop schedule under contracts that guarantee purchase of the entire harvest.
It is also developing aquaculture, especially the models of breeding shrimp under advanced farming techniques and other environmental friendly models like rice – shrimp farming model in coastal areas.
Under the rice-shrimp farming model, farmers rotate between rice in the rainy season and shrimp in the dry season on the same field to adapt to saltwater intrusion in coastal areas.
The model also produces clean rice and shrimp as farmers use few chemicals.
They harvest about 4 – 4.5 tonnes of rice and 450 – 500 kg of shrimp per hectare annually, earning 100 – 130 million VND (4,300 – 5,600 USD), according to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
With a coastline of more than 200 kilometres, the province plans to turn more mono-rice fields in coastal areas into rice-shrimp farming fields to adapt to climate change.
Hon Dat district, which has the largest area under rice in the province, is zoned for 16,000ha of rice-shrimp fields in coastal areas by 2030, according to its Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“Farmers in the district are actively turning monoculture rice fields into rice-shrimp fields,” Le Van Giau, head of the bureau, said.
“The district plans to have 2,500ha of rice-shrimp fields this year.”
In 2017-2020 the province switched to other crops and aquaculture on more than 32,800ha of unproductive rice fields, helping increase production efficiency and farmers’ incomes.
The income from these fields has been increased by 35 percent, according to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Quang Trong Thao, deputy director of the department, said the province has restructured its crops to suit conditions in each area and achieved high efficiency.
Besides, it has boosted the use of advanced farming techniques and machinery to improve yield and quality and reduce costs, he said.
Kien Giang had more 725,800ha under paddy and harvested 4.5 million tonnes last year, 5 percent more than the target.
It also had 100 large-scale rice fields with a combined area of 30,672ha last year.
To sustainably develop agriculture, it has strengthened investment in infrastructure, especially irrigation, to prevent saltwater intrusion and secure water for cultivation, according to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
It has built hundreds of temporary dams to prevent saltwater intrusion and store freshwater, properly regulated the operation of sluices and electric pumping stations to supply water to the Long Xuyen Quadrangle, the western part of the Hau River delta and the U Minh Thuong region.
In the ongoing summer – autumn rice crop, the province plans to grow 280,000ha of rice and harvest an estimated 5 – 60 tonnes per hectare.
The province’s rice output will be 4.2 million tonnes this year, according to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The province plans to breed brackish water shrimp on 136,000ha this year using industrial, semi-industrial, advanced extensive and rice – shrimp farming models.
It has developed concentrated farming areas and value chains for key products like rice, vegetables, mango, pineapple, and pepper on a total area of more than 100,000ha.
Its average annual agricultural output per hectare last year was worth 100 million VND (4,300 USD), up nearly 22 million VND since 2015, according to the department./.
Artists help sell agricultural products
Tonnes of agricultural products like lychee, plum and wax gourd were sold out within an hour by actor Nguyễn Xuân Bắc via a programme livestreamed on the Beatvn Facebook page on Tuesday.
The programme, entitled ‘Connecting Agricultural Products – Sharing Love – Joining Hands to Overcome the Pandemic’, was initiated by the Central Committee of the Hồ Chí Minh Communist Youth Union in co-ordination with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Việt Nam Women’s Union and the Việt Nam Farmers’ Union.
Speaking at its opening ceremony, Ngô Văn Cương, Secretary of the Central Youth Union, said the programme aimed to support farmers that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is also expected to familiarise the farmers with new methods of online sales to adapt to the new context of the pandemic, in addition to creating a network of agents to connect and consume agricultural products nationwide.
The programme kicked off on Tuesday, featuring Nguyễn Xuân Bắc, the director of the Việt Nam Drama Theatre and an actor familiar to Vietnamese audience for starring in many comedies and films like Gặp Nhau Cuối Năm (Year-End Meet).
In plain blue clothes and wearing a sun helmet and a face shield, Bắc looked similar to a Vietnamese farmer and started to share the story about lychee, the fruit that is associated with his childhood and “crystallisation of the farmers’ working spirit”.
His livestreamed stories attracted up to 279,000 viewers and ended up with 5,000 orders for 85 tonnes of agricultural products, mostly for lychees from the pandemic hotspot Bắc Giang Province.
“This is a very meaningful programme. It is not a rescuing effort but to cherish and support the consumption of Việt Nam’s agricultural products,” the actor said.
Bắc added that he volunteered for the programme when it was launched by the Central Committee of the Hồ Chí Minh Communist Youth Union and has called for the participation of communities, especially youth union members, in assisting the farmers.
“Please cherish the value of Vietnamese agricultural products because they are the fruits of the farmers’ sweat and efforts,” he said.
Besides the kick-off programme, three other programmes were livestreamed at 8pm on June 8, 9 and 10 on the Beatvn Facebook page. Further details could be provided by contacting the sales support via hotline 1900 299216 or on the website nongsanviet.online.
The same night, actress Hà Thị Thu Hương, who starred in Phía Trước Là Bầu Trời (Ahead Is the Sky), also livestreamed to help sell Bắc Giang lychees, Bắc Kạn wax gourd and Bắc Hà plums. She secured more than 200 orders, some for hundreds of kilos.
Recently, singer Thái Thùy Linh also supported farmers in pandemic hotspot Bắc Giang Province by selling melons on her social media pages. About 500 kilos were sold within hours.
Hospitals to add beds if COVID-19 cases increase
The HCM City Department of Health has instructed the Hospital for Tropical Diseases and Củ Chi District Hospital to make plans to admit COVID-19 patients if the number of cases in the city increases significantly.
The department is preparing 2,000 beds for treatment and 200 ones for resuscitation. In the worst-case scenario, the number of beds for treatment would increase to 5,000.
The department will change the function of Củ Chi District Hospital to serve COVID-19 treatment, with 500 beds including 20 for emergency and resuscitation. It will inform patients to visit other health facilities such as Củ Chi Regional General Hospital in Củ Chi District.
The Department of Health has instructed the Hospital for Tropical Diseases to use 400 beds for COVID-19 treatment and 46 for resuscitation.
The hospital will transfer its inpatients with contagious diseases, except tetanus, to hospitals with departments of infectious diseases in the city. Other hospitals should create favourable conditions to admit inpatients from the Hospital for Tropical Diseases.
The Hospital for Tropical Diseases will divide its health officials into two separate groups working in two areas, including one treating COVID-19 patients and the other treating tetanus patients.
Earlier, the health department told Phạm Ngọc Thạch Hospital, which specialises in treatment of tuberculosis and lung-related diseases, to divide its facility space. This was adapted from a successful case in South Korea.
The hospital has separated one half of its facility, and is using only one entrance and exit door. It has buildings with negative pressure rooms, 700 beds, and equipment for diagnosis, testing and treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Lê Văn Thịnh Hospital has set up a separate department for admitting, screening and treating patients with symptoms of COVID.
According to the department, hospitals are faced with a challenge during this fourth wave of COVID. If they do not carry out proper screening, they could become a transmission source leading to unexpected consequences.
As of June 7, COVID-19 patients had visited 22 hospitals. Among these, 13 hospitals have detected positive cases through screening and rapid tests. They were then isolated and transferred in time to designated hospitals.
Gia Định People’s Hospital, for instance, found three patients who tested positive for coronavirus in one day and reported the cases to the preventive health system. They were then able to trace and discover the Gò Vấp District cluster.
To reduce the number of hospitals under lockdown, the Department of Health has instructed all public and private health facilities to test patients with symptoms of cough, fever, sore throat or loss of taste or smell, even if they have not gone to COVID-19 hit areas.
Patients in Gò Vấp District and District 12’s Thạnh Lộc Ward, the worst-hit areas in the city, should be tested for COVID-19 if they visit health facilities.
More than 500 COVID-19 patients are being treated in the city.
Workers in Bắc Giang, Bắc Ninh happy to be back in factories
Nguyễn Hồng Mến packed her bags and left home on an important mission. She waved goodbye to her two children knowing it could be weeks before she saw them again.
Mến is one of many factory workers who volunteered to give up their home lives to help kickstart the country’s economy.
She works in Bắc Ninh, a province hit hard by the fourth wave of COVID-19.
Although there’s light at the end of the tunnel with the number of cases dropping, there is still much hard work to be done.
Mến has swapped her family home for a dormitory she shares with 11 people.
But she feels this is just a small sacrifice to get back to work.
“My colleagues and I volunteered to move in to help the company fight the pandemic and maintain production,” said the 34-year-old who works at Samsung Display Việt Nam.
“It’s not compulsory. For now, we are staying until June 16.”
“The dormitory is only a 5-minute walk from the factory. We have clean bunk beds and air-conditioners. Twelve people stay in one room, but given the struggles we face due to the pandemic, that’s good enough for us,” she added.
“There’s downtime for every company. During this critical time, I’m happy with what my company has done for us. A lot of other companies can’t do the same.”
The two northern provinces of Bắc Giang and Bắc Ninh have been the most affected since the latest wave of infections hit the country at the end of April.
By the middle of May, social distancing was applied in areas of both provinces, and four industrial parks in Bắc Giang where thousands of workers work were shut down.
But as their operations are crucial to the economy, Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam said it is in the Government’s interest to maintain production activities at the industrial parks, while doing everything they can to control the pandemic.
The Bắc Giang People’s Committee has allowed some companies in the four previously closed industrial parks to resume working, under the condition that they meet safety requirements set by the province’s health department.
By Monday, 42 companies in the Vân Trung, Quang Châu, Đình Trám and Song Khê-Nội Hoàng industrial parks had been allowed to resume operations.
Starting from June 2, hundreds of companies in Bắc Ninh opened up their dormitories for factory and office workers to move in.
Young mum Trần Thị Thu Hằng misses her two-year-old son deeply but is determined to get back to work to provide for her family.
Even though there are still risks of infection, she feels her company is doing all it can to keep staff secure.
Hằng, 26, who works at Seojin System Vina Company Ltd in Tiên Sơn Industrial Park, said: “The pandemic does affect us financially. My parents are no longer working, so I have to work to make money.
“I feel safe staying at the company because the prevention measures are being applied well.
“Staying here I don’t have time for anything else, and I miss my home and my son. But it also wouldn’t work if everyone wants to stay at home and stop working, because that will badly affect the economy and our own incomes. So I think moving in to stay and work at the company is a way to protect ourselves and the community.”
Trương Văn Vụ works at a factory under the Foxconn Technology Group in Quang Châu Industrial Park in Bắc Giang.
The 23-year-old moved into a quarantine area on Monday, where he will be staying to get tested for COVID-19 before moving into a dormitory.
“The area I’ve just moved into is divided into different zones. My zone has 60 tents, which are placed two metres away from each other. It’s inside the factory so we do have air-conditioners,” he said.
“I have to stay here for a few days, then get the vaccine, then take a couple of tests. If my results are all negative then I can move into the dormitory in Đình Trám Industrial Park, then go to work.”
Vụ said his company encouraged him to move into the dormitory.
“The process of selecting which workers can move in was quite tough because you have to be from the areas that don’t have F0s (COVID-19 patients),” he said.
“It’s a difficult process, but I decided to go because if I have the virus and stay at home, it will get transmitted to my family, my village and commune.
“Besides, I also need to make money to take care of my wife and children. I’m doing this for my family. They also agreed for me to go.”
Over 42,000 workers in HCMC lose jobs in Jan-May
Over 42,000 workers lost their jobs or were suspended from work and some 9,300 businesses in HCMC left the market from January to May 2021, said city chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong at a meeting with leaders of businesses affected by Covid-19 on June 10.
According to the HCMC Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, 2,274 businesses in the city completed procedures for disbandment in the first five months of the year. Besides, 1,365 businesses reported they were facing difficulties due to the pandemic and 410 wanted to borrow money to pay the salaries of their employees.
Phong said prior to the fourth Covid-19 wave, the city’s economy had recovered and achieved some positive results. The total retail sales of goods and services in the first five months of 2021 rose 8.9% year-on-year to over VND456 trillion (US$19.8 billion). The city’s exports reached US$19.63 billion and budget revenue was estimated at more than VND174 trillion, increasing 15.1% and 22.8% compared with the same period last year, respectively.
“However, during the fourth Covid-19 wave that began on April 27, the city reported some Covid-19 clusters, with the biggest one being the cluster related to the Revival Ekklesia Mission. The city had to impose social distancing on Go Vap District and Thanh Loc Ward, District 12, from May 31,” the city’s leader said.
The city has brought the latest outbreak under control. However, complicated developments of the pandemic are still negatively affecting the city’s economy and businesses.
“The prosperity of the city and the growth of businesses are connected. Therefore, the city cannot be an outsider when businesses face challenges and difficulties,” Phong said.
Addressing the meeting, Nguyen Dang Hien, vice chairman of the HCMC Food Association, said the biggest challenge that businesses in the city are facing is the transportation of goods to other provinces.
“When passing through the Mekong Delta provinces, drivers transporting goods must present their health declarations and Covid-19 test results. However, these papers are valid for just 24 hours in An Giang and 72 hours in Bac Lieu,” he explained.
The HCMC Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs has submitted a proposal to the HCMC People’s Committee to release a Covid-19 rescue package worth VND1,075 billion, expected to benefit over 500,000 laborers and thousands of businesses that have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. This will be the city’s second Covid-19 rescue package, after the first one was released last year.
Some businesses suggested that the city cut tolls on the Hanoi Highway by half and suspend the plan to collect fees from businesses for using infrastructure facilities and public services at seaport terminals.
Thirty-two legal documents need to be amended, supplemented, and promulgated
Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh has just signed Decision 889/QD-TTg promulgating a list of 32 legal documents that need to be amended, supplemented and promulgated.
Of which, there are 16 to be promulgated by the National Assembly (NA), 12 to be issued by the Government and four documents to be issued by ministers and heads of ministerial-level agencies.
The Deputy PM requested ministers and heads of ministerial-level agencies in charge of drafting legal documents closely coordinate with NA agencies to urgently study and propose solutions for the draft legal documents to be submitted to the NA and the NA Standing Committee for consideration and approval.
Ministers and heads of ministerial-level agencies shall closely coordinate with the Ministry of Justice to urgently study and propose measures on how to include the legal documents in law and ordinance development programmes in 2022 and subsequent years.
They also shall focus on directing and speeding up the progress of legal documents already included in the working programme of the Government and the Prime Minister in 2021; as well as closely coordinate with the Government Office to include legal documents in the working programme of the Government and the Prime Minister in 2022 and the following years.
Vietnamese people in Czech Republic, UK contribute to COVID-19 fight
The Vietnamese Association in the Czech Republic on June 11 granted 500 million VND (21,720 USD), donated by the Vietnamese community in the country, to Vietnam’s national COVID-19 vaccine fund.
President of the association Nguyen Duy Nhien said that through the funding, the Vietnamese community in the Czech Republic wants to contribute to the fatherland’s fight against the pandemic.
Thanking for the support, Vietnamese Ambassador Thai Xuan Dung asked Vietnamese people in the Czech Republic to continue to unite and support each other and well implement pandemic prevention and control measures.
Assessing Vietnam’s COVID-19 combat, head of the Union of Vietnamese Associations in Europe Hoang Dinh Thang expressed his belief that under the drastic leadership of the Government and joint efforts of all people, the pandemic will soon be put back in the country.
Also on the day, the Vietnamese Embassy in Great Britain and North Ireland launched a fundraising campaign in support of Vietnam’s COVID-19 prevention and control efforts.
Ambassador Nguyen Hoang Long affirmed that mobilising resources at home and abroad is extremely important because the fight against the pandemic is still prolong and arduous for Vietnam.
He called on Vietnamese representative offices in the UK, through their relationship channels, to inform their partners and the Vietnamese community in the UK and abroad about COVID-19 prevention and control in Vietnam, thereby mobilising practical contributions to this work in all forms, including connecting to vaccine sources and promoting the transfer of vaccine production technology./.
Tropical low depression develops into storm
A tropical low-pressure system has developed into a storm, internationally named Koguma, becoming the second hitting the East Sea since the beginning of this year.
At 1pm on June 12, the storm’s eye was at around 18.8 degrees north latitude and 109.0 degrees east longitude. The strongest wind near its eye was 60-75 km per hour, according to the National Centre for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting (NCHMF).
The storm is forecast to move in the west-northwest direction at a speed of 15-20 km per hour.
At 1am on June 13, the storm is off the coasts from Hai Phong to Nghe An, with the strongest wind close to the storm’s eye reaching level 8 (60-75km per hour), with gusts at level 10.
In the next 12 hours, the storm is forecast to keep the the west-northwest direction at a speed of 15-20km. It will make landfall and impact the northeastern and north-central localities before weakening into a tropical depression.
Under the influence of storm Koguma, provinces from Thanh Hoa to Thua Thien-Hue would experience medium to heavy rains between 80-150mm on June 13. Heavier rains, with up to 350mm was also predicted to hit the northen delta region and provinces of Hoa Binh, Son La, Phu Tho, Thanh Hoa-Quang Binh. Heavy rain in the northwest region is likely to last through June 14.
The Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control has held an urgent meeting on June 12 to direct agencies to prepare for the tropical low-pressure system.
Tran Quang Hoai, deputy head of the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control, asked the Committee’s office to collaborate with the Directorate of Fisheries and the Command of the Border Guards, to monitor ships operating in the affected area of the tropical depression, keeping regular communication with the owners of the vessels to handle incidents that might occur.
Vessels are instructed to move to a safe shelter and localities are requested to ban vessels from going out to sea if necessary.
Hoai told relevant agencies to ensure the safety of tourists on the islands; safety at aquaculture floating cages, dike works that are under construction. They are also directed to be ready to protect agricultural production, low-lying areas, urban areas, and industrial parks./.
COVID-19: 104 new cases recorded on June 12 afternoon
The national tally of COVID-19 rose to 10,241 with 104 new cases detected in the past six hours to 6pm on June 12, of which one is imported and 103 are local infections, according to the Health Ministry.
Among the locally-transmitted cases, 44 are in Ho Chi Minh City, 41 in Bac Giang, 16 in Bac Ninh, and two in Ha Tinh.
On June 12, 23 patients were given the all-clear, raising the number of recoveries to 3,827. The death toll was 58.
Among active patients under treatment at hospital, 433 have tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 once, 112 twice and 73 thrice.
Twenty-one provinces have gone through 14 days without detecting new cases./.
Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes
Ministry grants conditional approval of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
The Health Ministry on June 12 granted conditional approval of Comirnaty vaccine manufactured by Pfizer Manufacturing Belgium NV and Germany’s BioNTech Manufacturing GmbH for domestic emergency use in the fight against COVID-19.
This is the fourth vaccine to receive such authorisation, following Oxford/AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, and Sinopharm’s Vero Cell.
According to the approval decision, the vaccine comes in doses of 0.3ml of mRNA molecules protected by lipid nanoparticles.
The packaging is described as trays of 195 vials, with each vial holding six doses of vaccine.
The ministry asked the Drug Administration of Vietnam to license the import of Comirnaty vaccine as well as oversee its quality in line with the regulations.
The Administration of Science Technology and Training was directed to choose qualified units to assess the safety and efficiency of Comirnaty vaccine based on feedback from the ministry’s advisory board on the use of vaccines and medical biologicals during the use.
The General Department of Preventive Medicine was responsible for Cormirnaty vaccination while the National Institute for Vaccines and Biologicals must test and grant a certificate for the vaccine before it is put into use.
Previously, the health ministry said it had negotiated for a deal of 31 million doses of Pfizer and the first shipment could likely arrive between now and July.
Last week, during a meeting with UNICEF Representative in Vietnam Rana Flowers, Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long has also expressed his request for COVAX Facility – the global vaccine sharing initiative – to supply Pfizer vaccine to be used for Vietnamese children aged 12-18.
As of 4pm on June 12, 1,454,221 doses of vaccines – mostly AstraZeneca – have been administered in Vietnam since the inoculation drive started in March 8, 2021. 54,385 people have received the full two doses./.
Award-winning writer and translator passes away
Award-winning writer Nguyễn Xuân Khánh passed away due to natural causes at his home on Saturday in Hà Nội. He was 88 years old.
Khánh was popular for a series of novels on Vietnamese culture and history including Hồ Quý Ly; Mẫu Thượng Ngàn (Mountain Goddess) and Đội Gạo Lên Chùa (Bring Rice to the Pagoda).
His work on the founder of the Hồ dynasty Hồ Quý Ly (1336-1407), published in 2000, and Mẫu Thượng Ngàn published in 2006 have been reprinted many times due to their historical and cultural insights.
Đội Gạo Lên Chùa was published in 2011 by the Women’s Publishing House and created a stir in the local literary scene. The novel was highly acclaimed by not only literary critics but also the wider reading public.
The novel, which sold out its initial print run and was reprinted two more times over three months, also won acclaim for explaining the origins of Buddhism in Việt Nam.
His works earned him the Việt Nam Writers’ Association Award in 2000 and in 2011 and the Hà Nội Writers Association in 2011.
Born in Hà Nội, Khánh studied medicine at Hà Nội Medical University. He joined the military in 1952. He began to write in 1957. He worked at the Văn Nghệ Quân Đội (Military Literature and Arts) magazine and Tiền Phong (Avant-garde) newspaper before retirement in 1983.
He wrote his latest novel Chuyện Ngõ Nghèo (Poor Alley’s Tale) in 2016.
He also translated many works including Nathalie Sarraute’s The Golden Fruits and Jules Verne’s Five Weeks in a Balloon.
National COVID-19 vaccine fund raises over 4.8 trillion VND
The national COVID-19 vaccine fund received more than 4.84 trillion VND (210.2 million USD) worth of donations from 283,169 organisations and individuals as of 5pm on June 12, according to the fund’s management board.
Minister of Finance Ho Duc Phoc said that his ministry commits to transparently publicising the fund’s daily and periodical amounts of donations obtained as well as the spending of the Ministry of Health after each round of the domestic vaccination against COVID-19.
The ministry, which is in charge of the vaccine fund, has established a management board for it at the State Treasury and opened a bank account to receive support from individuals and organisations inside and outside the country.
Vietnam needs 150 million doses of vaccines to administer about 75 percent of its population this year, with total cost amounting to 25.2 trillion VND./.
Phu Quoc fish sauce making becomes national intangible cultural heritage
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recognised the making of fish sauce on Phu Quoc island city in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang as a national intangible cultural heritage in late May, creating a driving force for local residents to maintain and uphold the essence of the traditional craft.
Chairwoman of the Phu Quoc Fish Sauce Association Ho Kim Lien said Phu Quoc’s waters are home to a variety of seaweed and plankton that are major feed sources for anchovies – a key ingredient in its fish sauce.
The craft has existed in Phu Quoc for over 200 years ago. Local residents catch fresh anchovies and salt them before fermenting them in giant wooden barrels.
Fermenting them in wooden barrels is a feature of the traditional craft. The older the barrel is, the more durable it becomes and the better the quality of the fish sauce is.
The barrel has a wide mouth and is made from 55 planks of equal size: 2.2 metres long, 20cm wide, and 6cm thick. The diameter of the barrel mouth is about 3.2 metres and that of the bottom is some 2.6 metres. It is also strapped with green rattan.
Lien said the fish sauce is produced based on traditional methods, with the recipe being three parts anchovy and one salt, and the fermentation period lasts from 10 to 15 months. From the first to final layers, the fish sauce is divided into different types based on their protein levels. The final product has an amber colour and a slight aroma.
With support from the French Embassy in Hanoi in 1998, the Ministry of Fisheries along with Kien Giang province prepared an application for geographical indication. On June 1, 2001, Phu Quoc fish sauce was the first product in Vietnam to secure such status.
In July 2013, the EU granted the “Phu Quoc” origin certificate to the Vietnamese fish sauce.
A month later, the Ministry of Industry and Trade handed over the certificate to representatives of the Phu Quoc island district People’s Committee and the Phu Quoc Fish Sauce Association and it has now become an attractive local tourism product.
Phu Quoc city is now home to around 100 fish sauce makers, mostly in Duong Dong and An Thoi wards. Between now and 2025, it will strive to produce 12 million litres of fish sauce each year on average.
According to Lien, a major difficulty for the industry is that some consumers cannot identify genuine Phu Quoc traditional fish sauce, leading to unstable prices. There is currently no planning for a Phu Quoc fish sauce craft village, so it has not yet become a tourist destination.
The Phu Quoc Fish Sauce Association, founded in October 2000 and with 53 members, will pay attention to developing fish sauce quality to continue promoting its trademark, she said.
The craft is also expected to seek UNESCO world intangible cultural heritage status, contributing to improving its brand value and promoting the image of Phu Quoc island city./.
NA Chairman urges stepping up vaccine strategy
National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue has asked for stepping up the vaccine strategy with a specific roadmap and measures to achieve herd immunity, thus laying an important foundation to catch up with the global economy.
Chairing a working session with permanent members of the NA Committee on Social Affairs and several NA organs in Hanoi on June 13, Hue urged the Government to review the efficiency of support packages for laid-off workers and those hit by COVID-19 pandemic to report to the NA in the next meeting.
He reiterated the Politburo’s stance on continuing to realise the dual goals of fighting the pandemic and ensuring macro-economic stability and the safety of finance-banking and public debts.
The leader suggested continuing with the 5K technology message, considering vaccination a strategy; and enhancing international cooperation in seeking vaccine supplies.
In order to effectively perform socio-economic development policies and provide support for those hit by the pandemic, Hue asked the Government to soon issue a growth scenario, accelerate the disbursement of public investment, continue improving business environment, developing private and digital economy, and stimulating domestic demand while boosting collaboration to effectively direct fiscal-monetary policy, and soon bring the Resolution adopted by the 13th National Party Congress into life.
Lawmakers reported that the NA and its Standing Committee issued nine resolutions and documents to ease difficulties amid the pandemic.
As a result, payment of 99.2 trillion VND (4.3 billion USD) worth of added value tax, corporate and individual income tax, land lease for 57,000 business households and 128,600 firms has been extended, along with 19.3 trillion VND in special consumption tax for automobiles last year./.
Vietnam Young Initiatives forum held virtually
The Vietnam Young Initiatives forum was held virtually on June 12, with Vietnamese students across Europe taking part.
The event also marked the beginning of the Innocity 2021 competition for Vietnamese youths at home and abroad, which was a joint effort between the Vietnamese students’ associations in Europe and the Global Network of Young Vietnamese Intellectuals under the auspices of the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations, the Vietnam Software and IT Services Association, and the Association of the Vietnamese in Europe.
The competition aimed to seek solutions to developing smart cities and urban areas in Vietnam.
Discussions at the event focused on the role of young Vietnamese on innovation and ecological system in Vietnam, and support for Vietnamese at home and abroad in the country’s innovation.
Nguyen Thi Dieu Linh, member of the Vietnam Youth Federation and President of the Vietnamese Students’ Association in the Czech Republic, expressed her hope that new factors will be discovered at the event to contribute to the homeland./.
Nearly 160 wild animals saved in May
The Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) said as many as 157 wild animals were saved thanks to notice from residents via its hotline in May.
The ENV also reported that there were 299 crime cases related to wildlife were dealt with during the month, adding that it also recorded the 20,000th case since its wildlife protection office and hotline 1800-1522 was launched in 2005.
After receiving notice from the ENV, the Binh Duong provincial forest ranger department received 44 rare and precious turtles, which have already been sent to the Dau Tieng wildlife conservation station in the locality.
EVN Deputy Director Nguyen Thi Phuong Dung expressed her hope that the organisation will continue serving as a bridge to contribute to preventing wildlife trade in the country./.
VGCL delegation presents gifts to pandemic-hit workers in Thanh Hoa
A delegation led by Vice President of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) Ngo Duy Hieu visited and presented gifts to workers hit by COVID-19 pandemic at Sakurai Vietnam Co. Ltd in the Le Mon Industrial Park in the central province of Thanh Hoa on June 12.
President of the Thanh Hoa provincial Labour Federation Vo Manh Son said the province has yet to discover any official or worker infected with the coronavirus. Several F1 and F2 cases who finished quarantine have returned to work.
Trade unions distributed 36,300 leaflets to its members and workers to raise their awareness of prevention and control measures as recommended by the Health Ministry. They also directed the establishment of over 2,300 safety teams to fight the pandemic in businesses, particularly in industrial parks.
Son suggested the VGCL soon add workers and trade union employees into the list of those being given priority to vaccination.
Hieu, for his part, asked the provincial trade unions at all levels to continue staying vigilant in the fight against the pandemic.
Firms were also required to adjust distance and work shifts in factories to mitigate possible transmissions.
On the occasion, the delegation presented 100 million VND (4,300 USD) to support trade union members and workers hit by the pandemic./.
Vietnamese-Cambodians obey notice on relocating floating houses
Close to 1,000 households of Cambodians of Vietnamese-origin have followed the Phnom Penh authorities’ June 2 notice on relocating floating houses and fish farming rafts along the Tonle Sap river in seven days.
Accordingly, the group – mostly eking out a living from fishing and cage fish farming – in Chbar Ampov and Prek Pnov districts, among other locations, on June 11 and 12, dismantled their raft houses while waiting for a place to resettle.
Earlier, Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia Vu Quang Minh directly visited and encouraged the people of Vietnamese origin in displaced areas across six districts in Phnom Penh. He also met with leaders of neighbouring Kandal province, saying the embassy is seeking a plan to support the group.
Regarding the matter, the Foreign Ministry’s State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs, meanwhile, discussed with the Cambodian side, proposing Cambodia create favourable conditions and take practical support measures for the group to resettle and ensure their legitimate interests./.
Lao provinces join hands with Vietnam to fight COVID-19
Many Lao provinces have joined hands with the Vietnamese Government and people in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
On June 12, representatives from Phongsaly province’s authorities arrived at the Vietnamese Consulate General in Luang Prabang to present about 15,900 USD in support of Vietnam’s northern provinces of Lai Chau, Son La, Phu Tho, Vinh Phuc, Tuyen Giang and Thai Nguyen.
Earlier on June 11, representatives from Luang Namtha provincial authorities granted nearly 31,900 USD to the Consulate General to assist the northern provinces of Dien Bien, Son La, Phu Tho and Vinh Phuc.
Speaking at the event, the Lao side affirmed great friendship with Vietnam and wished that the Vietnamese localities would soon curb the virus spread and overcome difficulties to restore production and trade for socio-economic development.
Vietnamese Consul General in Luang Prabang Nguyen Dang Hung hailed the deed as a vivid manifestation of the great friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive partnership between the two countries.
He also vowed to soon send the sum to his homeland to help with pandemic prevention and control./.
Vietnam seeks COVID-19 vaccine technology transfer
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the Health Ministry has directed units to study and clinically test made-in-Vietnam vaccines while seeking technology transfer from abroad to proactively fight the pandemic in the country.
The ministry’s Administration of Science Technology and Training (ASTT) said on June 12 that two domestic manufacturers are working on COVID-19 vaccines. In particular, Nanocovax by the Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC has been approved for the third stage of clinical trials, which will be carried out by the Military Medical University and the Ho Chi Minh City Pasteur Institute right there and in Hung Yen, Long An and Tien Giang provinces and several qualified units.
About 13,000 people will be chosen for the phase.
Another candidate is COVIVAC by the Nha Trang Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC) which is under the first stage of clinical testing. The second stage is scheduled to take place in Thai Binh province.
The IVAC plans to produce about 6 million doses each year while Nanogen expects to manufacture around 20-30 million doses annually.
According to the ASTT, the Health Minister on May 7 issued Decision No.2301/QD-BYT on the establishment of a steering committee for a research programme on COVID-19 vaccine technology transfer and production.
Vingroup negotiated with a US manufacturer to transfer the technology of producing vaccine from mRNA which requires only one shot of 5mg. Its plant will be capable of producing 100-200 million doses each year, starting from the fourth quarter of this year or the first quarter of next year.
At present, the Company for Vaccine and Biological Production No.1 is stepping up negotiations with a Japanese partner to transfer technology to Vietnam.
It also signed a deal with a Russian investment fund for the sale of 5 million doses of Sputnik-V vaccine each month, towards transferring technology with an annual capacity of 100 million doses./.
President Ho Chi Minh’s thought, morality, lifestyle – precious assets: Party chief
President Ho Chi Minh’s thought, morality, and lifestyle are precious spiritual assets of the Vietnamese Party and people, illuminating the revolutionary cause, leading to the victory of the Vietnamese revolution.
Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong made the remarks at the national teleconference reviewing the five-year implementation of the 12-tenure Politburo’s Directive 05-CT-TW on enhancing the studying and following of President Ho Chi Minh’s thought, morality and lifestyle on June 12.
Learning and following the late leader’s thought, morality and lifestyle is a necessary, regular and indispensable task for the entire Party and people, particularly Party organisations, State agencies and officials and Party members.
On behalf of the Party Central Committee, the Party chief welcomed and praised collectives and individuals that stand out in performing this task.
The nation’s revolutionary cause is still facing many difficulties and challenges, he noted, given rapid, complex and unpredictable developments of the national and global situations.
He stressed the importance of continue learning and following the President’s ideology, morality and style, and highlighted the need for officials and Party members to set themselves as good examples for others.
The leader showed his hope that this task will continue to be enhanced in a more substantive and effective manner so as to contribute to the implementation of the 13th National Party Congress’s Resolution as well as the nation building, safeguarding and renewal cause.
The national teleconference also saw the presence of Politburo members: State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue, and permanent member of the Party Central Committee’s Scretariat Vo Van Thuong./.
Ca Mau tourism works to adapt to “new normal” situation
The tourism sector of the southernmost province of Ca Mau is taking measures to adapt to the “new normal” situation amid complicated development of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the fact that it had remained free of COVID-19 so far.
Tourist destinations pay great attention to following the “5K message” of khau trang (facemasks), khu khuan (disinfectant), khoang cach (distancing), khong tu tap (no gatherings), and khai bao y te (health declarations).
Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Tieu Minh Tien said the province has issued a set of criteria to assess safety in COVID-19 prevention and control in the tourism sector, including specific regulations in each category and destination.
The local tourism sector is ready with measures to record new development progress in the near future, he said.
Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Hong Quan said the province has set tourism as one of its economic pillars and identified measures for sustainable development.
The Prime Minister has approved the master plan for Ca Mau Cape national tourism site and the province already has planning for tourist areas such as Khai Long and Hon Da Bac and ecological tourism sites in Tran Van Thoi and U Minh districts.
It has upgraded infrastructure, diversified products at destinations, and actively sought investment in various fields, including tourism.
According to Tien, Ca Mau will step up tourism marketing at home and abroad to promote its land, culture, and people.
It is due to link up with cities and provinces to form tourism product chains in the Mekong Delta and on an inter-regional scale./.
Contributing to strengthening people’s trust in Party, State, regime
The Secretariat of the Party Central Committee on June 12 held a nationwide online conference reviewing the five-year implementation of the 12-tenure Politburo’s Directive 05-CT-TW on enhancing the studying and following of Ho Chi Minh’s thought, morality and style.
General Secretary of the Party Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong attended and chaired the conference, which was also to carry out the 13th-tenure Politburo’s Conclusion 01-KL/TW on continuing the implementation of Directive 05.
The report delivered at the conference stated that this work over the past five years has been seriously and effectively implemented throughout the political system, creating a positive change in awareness and action.
During the implementation process, ministries, departments, sectors and localities have identified breakthroughs to focus on leading, directing and organising effective implementation, thereby promoting socio-economic development, strengthening the people’s confidence in the Party and State; contributing to preventing the deterioration in political ideology, morality, lifestyle as well as “self-evolution” and “self-transformation” manifestations; and actively protecting the ideological foundation of the Party, and refuting wrongful and hostile views.
Over the past five years, educating political theory and the contents of Ho Chi Minh’s thought, morality and style for officials, Party members, members of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union and students has been seriously carried out, contributing to improving political level and mettle of officials, Party members and people, especially the young generation.
In addition to the obtainments, the report pointed out shortcomings and limitations that need to be overcome during implementing Directive 05 such as creativity, efficiency, drastic measures, and forms in leadership, direction, organisation of implementation in some areas. The deterioration in political ideology, morality and lifestyle still exists among some officials and Party members, leading to violations of the Party’s regulations with some being disciplined and penalised./.
Joint efforts for a healthy Vietnam
The establishment of the national COVID-19 vaccine fund is a vivid illustration of the nation’s solidarity, enabling each citizen to make a contribution to the formidable fight against the pandemic. All of the funding is being used to win the fight and ensure no one is left behind.
After a long hospital stay for treatment of ameloblastoma (a benign tumour), actor Tran Hoang Long, who goes by the stage name Long Chun and is “TikToker”, thoroughly understands the hardships that doctors and medical staff have endured. He has called for support for Covid-19 hotspot Bac Giang province over the past days, while making a small contribution to the vaccination fund and spreading the message behind the fund.
Meanwhile, for scientists like Dr Dang Minh Tuan, support for the fund is not just about material contributions. He said he wanted to spread the fund’s message in an effective fashion, with many number “9s” in his donation.
At the epicentre of the latest COVID-19 outbreak and facing formidable challenges, many local people in Bac Giang province are taking up the COVID-19 fight and stand ready to make a contribution to the fund.
The vaccination fund is a vivid illustration of national solidarity in the fight against the pandemic. Information about the fund and its significance should be distributed to call on the national strength.
During tough times, Vietnamese people have shown their resilience and solidarity. Everyone believes that no one will be left behind in this fight, and each citizen will receive COVID-19 vaccine shots./.
Firms violating COVID-19 prevention rules must be suspended: Deputy PM
Businesses that have failed to meet COVID-19 prevention and control requirements must be suspended, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said at a meeting in Hanoi on June 11.
Dam, who is also head of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, asked enterprises to arrange work shifts to make it easier for quarantine in case of infections.
Once COVID-19 cases are found at industrial parks, testing results must be produced within a day to accelerate contact tracing and quarantine, the official requested.
He asked localities to use different testing methods for different groups of people, and implement the quarantine and lock-down work flexibly and creatively.
According to the Deputy PM, all of the workers who are at the high risk of infection would be vaccinated against the coronavirus in July, while the inoculation for employees at industrial parks nationwide is expected to be completed in August.
At the meeting, leaders of localities with industrial parks like Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Long An, Tay Ninh and Ba Ria-Vung Tau said they have drawn up scenarios for COVID-19 infections in the industrial parks.
Nguyen Huong Giang, Chairwoman of the People’s Committee of northern Bac Ninh province, which has been hit hard by the pandemic, said relevant forces should quickly take actions in contact tracing and sealing off pandemic clusters, while focusing on testing.
She also stressed the significance of screen testing to detecting COVID-19 cases at industrial parks.
Le Anh Duong, Chairwoman of the neighbouring province of Bac Giang, also stricken by the pandemic, pointed out major causes of transmission at industrial parks, and suggested other localities prepare on-the-spot plans, especially improving testing capacity./.
Storm Koguma weakens into tropical depression, no damage reported
Storm Koguma, the second storm to hit Việt Nam this year, weakened into a tropical depression on Sunday after reaching the central province of Nghệ An.
The storm caused heavy rainfall and thunderstorms in the northern region, including Hà Nội, and in the central provinces from Thanh Hóa to Quảng Trị.
No casualties or property damage were reported.
High school entrance exam sitters in Hà Nội had a difficult commute to their test venues on Sunday because of the rain.
Risks of flash floods and landslides were forecast in the northern provinces of Hòa Bình, Sơn La, Lào Cai, Yên Bái, Phú Thọ, Tuyên Quang, Thái Nguyên, Quảng Ninh, Lạng Sơn, Lai Châu and Điện Biên, as well as the central provinces from Thanh Hóa to Hà Tĩnh.
Moderate and heavy rainfall was forecast to continue in the northwest region Monday morning.
The Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control has been collaborating with the Directorate of Fisheries and the Border Guard Command to keep track of fishing vessels at seas, as well as maintaining communication with fishermen to help them avoid the storm.
Local authorities were tasked with ensuring safety at dyke constructions and keep track of water levels in paddy fields at low-lying, urban areas and industrial parks to avoid sudden floods.
Singer presents music video dedicated to LGBT community
Two years after leaving Vietnamese showbiz to head to the US to study, singer Hương Tràm has surprised her fans by releasing a music video Đong Tình (Flirting) touching on LGBT issues.
A project with songwriter Tú Dưa, a former member of the once-famous boyband Quả Dưa Hấu (The Watermelon), the video is about a love triangle between a woman and two men.
On the conception of the video, the singer said that since she was a child, she felt she was more sensitive than her peers.
“I could recognise some friends who had different and extremely sensitive hearts. To this day, they are still my best friends and my loyal audience, who are always by my side,” she said.
“My video depicts the pain and sacrifice of people who still haven’t been accepted widely by the whole of society,” Tràm said.
Aiming to present a message that “love is among any of us and regardless of gender and social class”, the video is for music lovers as well as anyone who supports equality, she said.
“The music video has premiered in Pride Month, after two years without any music product, I hope it would not make my audience disappointed,” Hương Tràm said.
In the video, the singer plays the role of a wife who learns her husband is in love with a male colleague. The video features her pain and the experience of the two men and the pain they feel at having to keep their love hidden.
The video took the singer and her English-speaking team three days to film.
“The biggest challenge for me during the filming process was probably the language barrier. I’ve been in the US for two years. Everything is new for me, including the language. I couldn’t have done the shooting without the help of young friends I met here in the US,” the singer said.
According to songwriter Tú Dưa, the recording process faced several obstacles due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the geographical distance between Việt Nam and the US.
“The pop ballad song was recorded when Hương Tràm flew back to Việt Nam. The recording was given to four different musicians for arrangement. The singer then selected the best version to bring to the US for mastering,” Tú Dưa revealed.
Before working on this project, in 2018, the songwriter also composed the hit Duyên Mình Lỡ (Hopeless Love) for Hương Tràm.
His ballads presenting delicate and romantic lyrics have helped his former Quả Dưa Hấu bandmate Tuấn Hưng have a solid reputation in Việt Nam’s contemporary music scene.
He also composed the song Giữ Lại Hạnh Phúc (Hold Back the Happiness) for singer Thu Phương.
Born in 1995 in Vinh City in the central province of Nghệ An, Hương Tràm won the first season of The Voice Vietnam in 2012. A year later, in 2013, she bagged the Việt Nam’s Devotion Music Award for ‘The New Artist of the Year’.
Her video Em Gái Mưa (The Rainy Girl) brought the singer the second Devotion Award for ‘The MV of the Year’ in 2018. In the same year, she was given the Best Asian Artist Vietnam title at the Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) 2018 in Hong Kong.
New songs honour frontline forces battling pandemic
As Việt Nam is facing the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, new music productions have been released to honour frontline forces.
Tỏa Sáng Việt Nam (Việt Nam Shines Bright) is a new song by young singer and songwriter Bùi Công Nam to show his love and gratitude to health workers and frontline workers who are working day and night to take care of and protect the community.
The song has meaningful lyrics combined with a joyful melody that bring faith and joy to people.
Nam said: “The song reflects my pride as a Vietnamese. I expect Vietnamese people to keep strong together to overcome the challenging time and make Việt Nam shine.”
The song features the voices of Nam, singer Miu Lê and rapper GDucky.
GDucky, runner-up of TV reality show Rap Việt 2020, wrote rap lyrics for the song, calling on people to fight against the pandemic, donate to the national COVID-19 vaccine fund, and praise the solidarity and bravery of frontline forces and Vietnamese people.
The MV contains beautiful images of healthcare workers across the country working to protect people, as well as charity activities such as Việt Nam Red Cross Society’s campaign to help farmers in pandemic-hit localities sell agricultural products, and “rice ATMs” to support the poor across the country.
MV Tỏa Sáng Việt Nam was released on YouTube on June 4, and has earned more than 517,000 views and hundreds of compliments for its emotional lyrics.
Singer and songwriter Nam was born in 1994 in the Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) province of Đắk Lắk.
He became popular after competing in Bài Hát Hay Nhất (Sing My Song), a TV reality show about original songs, launched by the Việt Nam Television in 2016. His music is pop, ballad and country.
He won Song of the Year at the 2019 Cống Hiến (Devotion) Awards given by Thể Thao & Văn Hóa (Sports & Culture) with his song Có Ai Thương Em Như Anh (Nobody Loves You As I Do).
This year, he became a hit on social media in Việt Nam after joining Xuân Hạ Thu Đông Rồi Lại Xuân (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Spring), a TV reality show showcasing street performances of favourite Vietnamese singers.
Its videos, which screen live performances on HCM City streets, have earned tens of millions of views on YouTube.
Lieutenant Colonel Vũ Thị Huyền Ngọc of the cultural house of the Việt Nam Border Guard’s Political Department has released a song Lời Ru Nơi Tuyến Đầu (Lullabies at Frontline) as a gift to the country’s heroes who are sacrificing to protect the people.
Ngọc said she wrote the song to honour motherhood after seeing a baby girl cry when she saw on TV her mother, a doctor sent to Bắc Giang Province, a hotspot of the latest COVID-19 outbreak.
“As a mother, I cried at this beautiful image,” Ngọc said.
The song also expressed her gratitude to her women colleagues and frontline forces who left their families and children to fulfil their duties.
Lời Ru Nơi Tuyến Đầu is Ngọc’s third motivational song during the pandemic, along with songs Vì Nơi Ấy Có Anh (Because You’re Here) and Nếu Anh Không Về (If You Don’t Return).
As recognition for her contribution to the fight against the pandemic, the General Department of Politics under the Việt Nam People’s Army last year granted Ngọc a certificate of merit for studying and following President Hồ Chí Minh’s thought, morality and lifestyle.
Experts call on community to keep donating blood
Health experts have called on the community to maintain blood donation activities to ensure blood sources for emergency aid and treatment at hospitals on the occasion of World Blood Donor Day (June 14).
President of the Việt Nam Red Cross Society and Permanent Deputy Head of the National Steering Committee for Voluntarily Blood Donation Mobilisation, Nguyễn Thị Xuân Thu, said that COVID-19 seriously impacted blood donation mobilisation and collection activities.
“On this occasion, we call on those who are healthy enough to donate blood, which is the responsibility and sacred duty of every citizen. I also request the Steering Committees at all levels and relevant authorities to honour and praise typical examples of blood donation and mobilise relatives and friends to participate in blood donation, especially amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the community,” said Thu.
The appeal was made as blood shortages have occurred across the country due to a decline in blood donors amid the COVID-19 pandemic spreading in many provinces and cities nationwide.
“Each unit of blood is valuable as a lifebuoy for the patient. I want each person to stay healthy so that they can keep a regular blood donation rhythm and to give patients the safest blood source,” said the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion director Bạch Quốc Khánh.
Khánh said the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected blood donation activities and blood transfusion safety globally as well as in Việt Nam. Despite challenges of organising blood donations during the pandemic, millions of people around the world still continue to make efforts to donate blood, including blood for treating COVID-19 patients.
“Over one million blood donations in our country in 2020 and tens of thousands of people who came to donate blood during the COVID-19 outbreak have shown the community’s responsibility in helping the health sector overcome the blood shortage,” said Khánh.
“I’m very happy to say that all blood donors are safe and none tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Ensuring the safety of blood donors, medical staff and blood recipients is always the number one priority of blood transfusion facilities,” added Khánh.
On the occasion, 100 outstanding blood donors across the country will be honoured for their contribution to the country’s blood donation mobilisation movement, 14 of them have donated blood 50 times or more. Huỳnh Thanh Hùng from HCM City has donated blood 74 times, followed by Nguyễn Hoàng Nhơn also from HCM City with 70 blood donations, Phan Vũ Quốc Chinh from HCM City donated blood 64 times, Nguyễn Văn Lâm from Trà Vinh Province 63 times and Nguyễn Văn Nguyên from Hà Nội 60 times. They have donated a total 3,220 units.
With the theme “Give blood and keep the world beating”, World Blood Donor Day aims to raise global awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products for transfusion and of the critical contribution voluntary, unpaid blood donors make to national health systems.
The day also provides an opportunity to call governments and national health authorities to provide adequate resources and put into place systems and infrastructure to increase the collection of blood from voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors.
On this occasion, the World Health Organisation also called on the Government, health sector and blood transfusion services of countries to ensure sufficient resources and facilities to ensure the quality and effectiveness of blood collection.
In Việt Nam, the health sector has received more than 1.4 million blood units, equivalent to nearly 1.5 per cent of the population participating in blood donation; in which, 99 per cent of blood came from voluntary blood donors. In the first five months of 2021, blood donation campaigns such as the Red Spring Festival and the All People’s Voluntary Blood Donor Day (April 7), the whole country collected nearly 425,000 blood units.
HCM City sets up working group to buy COVID-19 vaccines
HCM City authorities have set up a working team responsible for buying COVID-19 vaccines for at least two-thirds of its population by year-end, said Nguyễn Thành Phong, chairman of the People’s Committee, during an online meeting on June 11.
Speaking about the city’s economic development in the first five months of the year, Phong said the city would speed up the vaccination drive by encouraging the business community to connect with suppliers.
The city had achieved “remarkable results” in its implementation of its “dual goal” of maintaining the economy while applying strict COVID preventive measures in the first five months, he said.
“The city will continue its flexible economic management and pandemic prevention measures.”
Since the fourth wave that began in late April, the city has detected more than 630 locally transmitted cases, ranking third in the country. The cases have been mostly related to the Gò Vấp District cluster.
Phong said the outbreak was basically under control, but warned that the situation remained unpredictable because infection chains without known sources of infection continue to occur.
The city will continue to take serious measures to contain the spread. It has banned religious and group activities, suspended citizen-identification granting procedures, and postponed the entrance exam for 10th grade until further notice, among other social-distancing measures.
The city plans to offer another support package for companies and workers affected by the outbreak, according to Phong.
Since the beginning of 2021, some 1,365 firms in the city have been affected, with more than 42,500 workers losing their jobs, according to the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.
More than 400 companies are in urgent need of preferential loans for wage payments to workers to maintain their business operations.
More than 2,270 enterprises completed dissolution procedures in the first five months of the year (up 4.99 per cent year-on-year), and 9,308 enterprises temporarily suspended operations (up 22.99 per cent year-on-year).
Phong said the city would also set up a working group to speed up the progress of major traffic projects.
The city had asked the Department of Transport to report on seaport toll collection to the People’s Committee, and would continue to accelerate implementation of digital transformation and smart city projects. It would also strengthen fire and explosion prevention measures.
Lê Thị Huỳnh Mai, director of the Department of Planning and Investment, said the city’s total retail sales of consumer goods and services in the first five months were up 8.9 per cent year-on-year. Accommodation and catering service sales increased in the period by 30.8 per cent year-on-year.
Exports reached $19.63 billion in the first five months, up 15.1 per cent year-on-year. Total state budget revenue was estimated at more than VNĐ174 trillion, up 22.8 per cent year-on-year.
Of the figure, exports of hi-tech products at the Saigon Hi-Tech Park reached $8.37 billion in the first five months, up 26.5 per cent year-on-year.
The industrial production index (IIP) increased by 7.4 per cent over the same period. As many as 6,461 enterprises resumed operation in the period.
HCM City opens two more COVID-19 treatment health facilities
The 500-bed Củ Chi COVID-19 Treatment Hospital in HCM City’s Củ Chi District on June 12 was officially put into use, and the COVID-19 Treatment Unit at Phạm Ngọc Thạch Hospital in District 5 will open on the 13th.
Human resources for these facilities are health officials from departments of contagious diseases, resuscitation, and emergency services at the city’s major hospitals.
The facilities will help the city adapt to the ongoing COVID outbreak. The Hospital for Tropical Diseases said three of its staff were suspected of having contracted COVID-19. This will be confirmed later by the Ministry of Health.
The Hospital for Tropical Diseases is temporarily locked down for tracing contacts and stamping out the spread. However, the hospital continues providing reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 patients who are staying there.
On the same day, the city Department of Health sent an urgent dispatch about health staff compliance with regulations on COVID-19 prevention and control after working hours.
To minimize the risk of cross-infection in hospitals and from outside hospitals, the department has instructed the directors of hospitals to urgently ask their employees to improve their self-discipline in COVID-19 prevention and control.
Health staff should always comply with the Ministry of Health’s 5k message: masks – disinfection – distance – no mass gathering – health declarations. They should also wear masks during working hours.
Moreover, after working hours at hospitals, health staff should stay at home and limit contact with their neighbours and friends.
The city has recorded small COVID-19 clusters in its districts. Besides the transmission risk from COVID-19 patients who visit hospitals, health staff face other transmission risks from outside and could transmit the virus to their colleagues.
Two of the three staff at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases who may have contracted COVID-19 live in Hóc Môn District and the other resides in Bình Tân District.
Cancer patient dies of COVID-related complications
A woman being treated for lung cancer has died of COVID-related complications. She is the 58th fatality in Việt Nam.
The 64-year-old who lives in Hà Nội’s Ứng Hòa District was undergoing chemotherapy at the capital’s K Hospital when she tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on May 14.
She received treatment for the virus but because of her pre-existing illness, her immune system was weak and she failed to respond to medication.
The woman died on June 11 and her cause of death has been recorded as septic shock and pneumonia caused by SARS-CoV-2 in lung cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Researchers propose measures for a successful vaccination strategy
Independent Vietnamese researchers from the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Australia, have proposed four measures for a successful vaccination strategy in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Việt Nam.
Nguyễn Thu Anh, the country director of the institute, said vaccination is the key solution for the country to escape from the pandemic, get back to normal and be able to open its borders.
“A successful vaccination campaign is one that will be conducted widely, quickly, safely and effectively,” she said.
Anh, together with her colleague, Ngô Hoàng Anh, recommended four key measures to launch a successful campaign.
First, they called for decentralisation, digitisation and improvement of capacity in handling vaccine-related side effects to speed up inoculation.
Vaccination speed is an important factor affecting the vaccine allocation decision of the COVAX Facility. In addition, the shelf life of vaccine batches provided through this programme is usually about half to two-thirds shorter than the shelf life specified by the company. Therefore, rapid vaccination not only protects people but also determines the number of vaccines the country receives.
The nation’s biggest advantage in COVID-19 prevention and control is the grassroots health system, which includes about 11,000 ward/commune-level health stations.
To rapidly increase vaccination capacity, it is necessary to take full advantage of this by decentralisation of the inoculation programme to the grassroots level, training health workers on anaphylaxis management with the support of mobile ambulance from district or provincial hospitals, and digitising the vaccination workflow, Thu Anh said.
Digitisation is not only convenient for the future deployment of vaccine passports but also helps optimise resources.
People could access a vaccination registration website to declare personal information and make a medical declaration before vaccination. Healthy people with a low risk of side effects can be classified into the safe group and register for vaccination at the commune health station where they are residing. As a result, the commune/ward health station can prepare for vaccination sessions by contacting registered people via text message.
“People at risk of side effects of the vaccine such as a history of anaphylaxis, a history of blood clotting disorders, etc. could be classified into groups that need careful monitoring, and registered for vaccination according to the list of hospitals,” said Thu Anh.
After vaccination, people could be provided with a certificate with full information such as the type of vaccine injected, number of shots, batch number, date of vaccination along with a QR code to access the electronic history. Vaccination information could also be linked to Government-issued anti-COVID applications such as Bluezone, VHD and the National TMCR system to issue vaccine passports.
“Looking at the data of developed countries, we find that after the first 2-3 months of the survey, these countries will vaccinate at an average rate of about 0.5-1 per cent of the population/day. Thus, with 11,000 primary health stations, eight working hours/day, five to six patients/hour and one injection course at a time, if there is no disruption to the supply chain, we have the capacity and facilities to inject about 0.5 per cent of the population or 500,000 doses/day. At this time, to get herd immunity, it will take us a full year, that is, until the third or fourth quarter of 2022,” Thu Anh said.
The second recommendation is to use highly effective vaccines.
“The selection of the right vaccine directly affects the effectiveness of the vaccination campaign in controlling of the pandemic in the community. Early or late opening of the border depends on our choice,” Thu Anh said.
Researchers suggested vaccines be divided into two groups.
Group 1 would feature vaccines that have been widely used, have clear clinical trial data, are deployed in many countries on a large scale, and have a full side effect record system such as Pfizer – BioNTech, Moderna, Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca), Novavax and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).
Group 2 would have vaccines proven to be effective but need more evidence as well as testing with new variants such as Sputnik V, Sinopharm BBIBP – CorV and Sinovac.
“Priority should be given to vaccines that have been shown to be highly effective against the virus variants that have been reported as well as the variant of concern that have been reported elsewhere,” she said.
This table shows the final model inputs for vaccine efficacy at preventing disease and infection, by vaccine and variant type. Source: The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), University of Washington.
Adjusting the plan
The third recommendation is changing the domestic COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan due to current inconsistencies.
According to Decision 1210/2021, issued on February 9, people over 65 years of age and people with chronic diseases are among 11 priority groups for vaccination against COVID-19 in Việt Nam.
However, in Decision 1624/2021 issued more than a month later, on provisional guidelines for pre-vaccination screening, these two groups were listed as subject to delay or caution in vaccination.
According to WHO recommendations, priority populations for vaccination include those at high risk of dying from the disease, such as the elderly and those with underlying/chronic medical conditions.
Therefore, in any country in the first phase of vaccination, in addition to staff involved in pandemic prevention, the old, the sick and pregnant women should be next.
The last recommendation is to conduct clinical trials in high-risk areas.
Locally produced vaccines are entering different stages of clinical trials, including Nanocovax in phase 3 in early June, and IVAC in phase 1/2.
While the current outbreak posing a significant challenge to the health system, this is also a “golden” opportunity for Việt Nam to see the effectiveness of vaccines researched in the country, Hoàng Anh said.
Testing at the epicentre of the outbreak also creates a real test for large-scale, mass-production capabilities before being approved for emergency use on a scale of up to tens of millions of doses.
“Conducting a vaccination campaign that can be said to be the largest in history can be very difficult. Just we take one wrong step, such as the selection of an ineffective vaccine, slow, unsafe vaccination, etc., the pandemic can completely return and erupt more violently. Therefore, we must at the same time be quick, but decisive and precise,” Hoàng Anh said.
Việt Nam’s preparation
Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long said Việt Nam is promoting the purchase of technology, receiving technology transfer for vaccine production to be able to produce vaccines to serve domestic demand.
The clinical trials of Vietnamese COVID-19 vaccine candidate Nano Covax are set to enter Phase 3 this month, aiming to further test the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in humans before mass production.
Another domestic vaccine contender, Covivac from the Institute of Vaccines and Biological Medical (IVAC), is preparing for Phase 1 trial data to be reviewed by the Ministry of Health and could start Phase 2 around late June or early July.
Another locally-developed COVID-19 vaccine, from Vabiotech, is in pre-clinical trials on animals, and another from Polyvac (the Centre for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals, under the Ministry of Health) is still under laboratory research.
Regarding plans for vaccine rollout when more doses are available, Phạm Quang Thái, head of the northern regional office of the National Expanded Programme on Immunisation, said the current system will be used.
“We have everything ready with the current national expanded programme on immunisation, so once the vaccines are here, we’ll just apply the same model,” he said.
Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes