By Minh Phong – Translated by Kim Khanh
Nguyen Thanh Tung, an English teacher living in Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Thanh District, and his mother on Wednesday postponed their next week trip to Hanoi though they had booked flight tickets and hotel accommodation.
Tung had earlier canceled his plans to return to his hometown Hanoi during the Lunar New Year holiday due to the previous outbreak in late January. With the pandemic under control, he again booked air tickets late last month to the capital city, planning to take his mother to visit tourist attractions like Ha Long Bay and Sa Pa later on.
But the surge in community transmissions in Hanoi and northern provinces over the past week dashed all of his hopes.
“I accept losing money to ensure health safety. If I visited Hanoi now, there would be a high risk of contracting the virus since the source of transmission remains unknown and anyone could spread it in the community,” the 27-year-old said.
“My mother is now 65 years old and vulnerable to Covid-19 infection, especially since the ongoing outbreak is linked to new virus strains from the U.K. and India.”
As of Thursday morning, Hanoi had recorded 27 community transmissions, 22 of them linked to the cluster at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in the capital’s Dong Anh District, a frontline facility in the Covid-19 fight. Several parts of Hanoi are now under lockdown while all tourist destinations have been closed.
Bui Thanh Tu, marketing director of a Hanoi-based travel agency, said in the year to April 28, when the new outbreak began, the number of customers booking tours through his company had reached 3,000, five times higher than the same period last year. However, everything has changed. Hanoi has now recorded 27 domestic infections and Tu’s company started seeing tour cancelations en masse. His company estimated to lose VND100 million ($4,350) a day as a result.
Avoiding the crowds during the Reunification holiday (April 30-May 3), Le Thu Hang in HCMC and her family planned to visit the central beach city of Da Nang and Hoi An in neighboring province Quang Nam from May 11-15.
The resurgence of community transmissions in Da Nang and Quang Nam, however, forced her to cancel the trip though she had paid nearly VND20 million ($870) for air tickets.
Unable to get a refund, Hang was allowed to postpone her hotel booking to within the next six months
“I regret the money but my husband has a history of type 2 diabetes. Therefore, we can’t risk our lives to travel at this time,” she said, adding “there would be other occasions to travel, while we only have one life to live.”
Da Nang, home to the famed Golden Bridge and beautiful beaches like My Khe, Non Nuoc and Nam O, has recorded two community transmissions in which the source has yet to be identified while Quang Nam reported one.
Cao Tri Dung, chairman of Da Nang Tourism Association, told VnExpress International that based on statistics from travel companies and businesses, about 20-30 percent of visitors have cancelled their tours to the city since the country’s new outbreak resurfaced in late April.
The popular tourist hub, with a coastline of 30 kilometers, has closed all public beaches and suspended tourism services since May 3 amid the complicated Covid-19 developments.
People flocked to a beach in Da Nang City on April 29, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong.
Without foreign tourists due to border closures and flight suspension, travel companies had been banking on domestic tourism to survive as the summer holiday season approaches, but the new wave has dashed their hopes.
According to statistics from travel agencies in HCMC, many people have canceled their tours planned for the end of May, June and July, the peak months of the summer travel season.
Pham Quy Huy, director of HCMC-based travel agency Kiwi Travel, said 80 percent of the firm’s customers have canceled their trips while many clients have asked to reschedule their tours set to depart in the next months.
Huy said if the new outbreak turns more complicated, his company could lose VND1 billion ($43,500) while major travel companies could forfeit billions of VND invested in boosting summer travel demand.
Nguyen Minh Man, head of marketing at HCMC-based TST Tourist Co., said the new outbreak came right at the peak of the summer travel season and if the outbreak lasts until the end of May or June, domestic tourism would succumb.
Starting April 27, Vietnam has suffered a new Covid-19 outbreak with different clusters in various localities. Previously, the nation had gone over a month without community infections.
In the new outbreak, 64 locally-transmitted cases have been recorded in ten localities, including 14 each in northern Ha Nam and Vinh Phuc provinces.
This is also a goal strongly promoted by the United Nations (UN), in the context of the negative impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and conflicts which have exacerbated poverty in Africa, negatively affecting the goal of sustainable development globally.
A two-day high-level dialogue – “Feeding Africa: leadership to scale up successful innovation” recently hosted by the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) and the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in partnership with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) as well as the CGIAR System Organization, attracted the participation of many African leaders.
The forum aimed to promote the food security agenda in acontinent where about 246 million people are falling into starvation. Strong and responsible political leadership, policy reform, investment in research, technology and innovation are essential to help Africa transform its farming systems and increase crop yields, all contributing to ensuring food security.
In fact, the agribusiness platform launched two years ago in Africa has enabled the transfer of drought-tolerant wheat varieties and increased yields in Africa, but many people are still lacking food. Africa needs to scale up agriculture to feed its 1.4 billion people.
In order to realise their food security goals, African leaders have pledged to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, which both hinder socio-economic progress in the continent. The AfDB has pledged US$10.4 billion in funding over five years to strengthen the value chain of agriculture and food production.
The IFAD pledged to provide U$$1.5 billion to support national efforts to transform food and agricultural systems over the next three years. The Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) has committed up to US$1.5 billion for the period 2020-2024 in terms of agriculture.
The Islamic Development Bank Group said it would earmark US$3.5 billion for developing the agriculture sector in Africa over the next three years. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, joining a coalition of development partners in 2019, declared it would invest US$310 million over the next three years.
In addition, 17 African heads of state signed acommitment to boost agricultural production by doubling current productivity levels through the scaling up of agro-technology, investing in further access to markets, and promoting agricultural research and development.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) once warned of emergency food insecurity in 20 countries, including many in Africa. More than 260 non-governmental organizations recently signed an open letter calling on governments to donate US$5.5 billion to help the tens of millions of people facing hunger.
African countries’ promotion of agricultural transformation is seen as the key to hunger eradication and poverty reduction and is also part of a joint global effort to help 34 million people worldwide escape hunger this year. If the number of hungry people is not stopped in time, progress towards achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals will surely be pushed back.
Hanoi has to tighten the enforcement of quarantine procedure to prevent the spreading of novel coronavirus.
As many as 110 people, including foreigners, were fined VND300 million (US$13,800) for not wearing masks in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem District during the four-day holiday from April 29 to May 2, according to Bui Van Dang, deputy head of the district’s police department.
|A coronavirus checkpoint in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem District asks people to wear masks in public. Photo: Hai Nam|
This move is an effort to prevent the spreading of Covid-19 pandemic in the city. All people are required to follow the regulation strictly.
“Those found not wearing face masks in public have to pay a fine of up to VND3 million (roughly US$130),” Dang said.
The latest Covid-19 outbreak in Vietnam was triggered on April 29, after over a month without local transmissions, when a 28-year-old man tested positive for the virus in the northern province of Ha Nam. He had returned from Japan on April 7 and been quarantined for a fortnight in the central city of Da Nang.
Since then, the number of Covid-19 cases confirmed has been 36, who have been found in Ha Nam, Hanoi, Hung Yen, HCM City, Vinh Phuc and Da Nang, of them 35 are related to people who had completed the mandatory quarantine. The remaining one case is a man in Da Nang, whose transmission source is yet to be identified.
Hanoi has confirmed four community transmissions, three of them making contact with the Ha Nam man and the other one exposed to an infected Chinese expert on a flight from Da Nang to Hanoi on April 29.
The capital city has suspended non-essential services like bars, karaokes and dance clubs, as well as street food vendors and cafes to prevent the disease from spreading.
Speaking during an inspection visit to Noi Bai International Airport on May 3, Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Chu Ngoc Anh said the municipal Disease Control Center has to tighten the enforcement of quarantine procedure and update it for medical workers due to serious evolution of the fatal disease and increased people movement via the airport, especially after the national holiday of National Reunification Day (April 30) and May Day, which ended on May 3.
It’s reported that four thermometers for body temperature measurement have been placed in Noi Bai Airport to screen all passengers. Moreover, eight employees including two physicians work 10-hour shift at the airport.
In addition to four thermometers in the international arrival and departure gates, two spare machines are ready for emergency situation.
Anh said all hospitals in the city must set up rapid reaction teams to confront the high risk of Covid-19 disease spreading.
HÀ NỘI — Soldiers from the Vietnamese army’s chemical division on Thursday disinfected the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hà Nội after it became a COVID-19 hotspot.
The move came as Việt Nam reported 17 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday connected to the hospital in Đông Anh District, raising the number of infected cases there to 22.
Around 70 soldiers and 15 special vehicles were mobilised to spray more than 200,000 litres of disinfectant on 150,000sq.m of the hospital including campus, patient’s reception hall, examination area, emergency department and underground parking lot.
“This one is more dangerous in nature due to the variant of SARS-CoV-2,” said Senior Lieutenant Colonel Trần Văn Chung.
“We have been determined since the day the pandemic broke out again, especially before the news of the situation at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases’ branch in Đông Anh recently.”
Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long said the virus could spread between departments in the hospital or infect patients’ relatives.
“The matter is being evaluated by concerned agencies,” Long said.
He added that the most important thing was that as soon as the incident was detected, the Ministry of Health (MoH) locked down the entire hospital and screened all staff as well as patients and their relatives.
The ministry also requested the hospital send a list of people who had been to the facility for medical examinations and treatment from April 15 to localities to trace, screen, isolate, and test.
Long said: “We have a lot of experience in this field. Bạch Mai Hospital was once isolated, but the scale of Bạch Mai Hospital is much larger than that of National Hospital for Tropical Diseases.
“We believe that localities should urgently trace people who have been in contact with people at the hospital and promptly handle the situation in accordance with MoH’s regulations.”
He said that lessons should be learned from this incident and it was necessary to review the isolation environment, quarantine and infection management.
After exchanging information with relevant agencies and experts, the MoH decided to extend the quarantine period from 14 to 21 days.
The minister emphasised the need to continue monitoring the health of people for seven days after they finished compulsory quarantine.
The testing capacity should be raised to up to five times to ensure the safety and prevent infection.
The MoH has requested hospitals to screen patients and health workers and implement necessary measures to avoid infection. — VNS
HCM City (VNA) – Experts and economists have proposed to expand the issuance of Government bonds to the international market , saying that this will help increase oppotunities to mobilise investment flows for socio-economic development project s of Vietnam in the time to come.
Addressing a workshop in Ho Chi Minh City on April 27, head of the Prime Minister’s economic advisory group Nguyen Duc Kien highlighted the need to attract investment sources, especially for infrastructure and socio-economic development.
Vietnam has great demand for capital to develop key infrastructure projects, especially those serving transport and information technology, they said.
They pointed out a number of projects that will need great investment sums, including a national power planning project in 2021-2030 and a draft plan on road traffic network development in 2021-2030, with a vision to 2050, which require about 13 billion USD and 2.5 billion UDS per year, respectively.
If only relying on the domestic capital market, it will be difficult to meet the large capital needs for investment in economic infrastructure, which requires medium and long-term capital, they added.
According to Kien, Vietnam is considered a reputable partner on the international financial market as it has always paid debts on time.
Notably, interest rates are currently kept low in international capital markets, making it easier for the Vietnamese Government to issue bonds with lower nominal interest rates, save costs and reduce pressure on debt payment.
Since 2005, Vietnam has issued Government bonds on the international capital market for three times with positive results. This has helped strategy makers to learn from experience and lessons.
The group said the Government should consider a plan to build a global medium-term bond issuance programme, which will allow the Government to issue flexibly international bonds in different currencies and volumes at different times.
Participants also underlined the need to build a mechanism serving the effective using and management of capital sources after the issuance.
Financial expert Tran Ngoc Tho said the issuance of Government bonds is one of the important channels to ensure capital sources for socio-economic development requirements.
However, he also warned about risks related to the national currency security, stressing that it is necessary to study and prepare scenarios to deal with risks if any./.