US firms must be accountable to Vietnamese AO victims: Spokeswoman

VIETNAM NEWS HEADLINES MAY 14 (Updated hourly)
An AO/dioxin victim (seating on wheelchair) in Tuyen Quang province (Photo: VNA)

US companies that manufactured the toxic Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin defoliant used by US forces during the war in Vietnam must take responsibility for dealing with the consequences, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said on May 13.

Speaking at the ministry’s regular press conference, which was held online, Hang expressed her regret at the ruling of the Crown Court of Evry City in France on a lawsuit by Tran To Nga against the US firms.

Vietnam has suffered severe consequences from the US war, including the lingering and serious impacts of AO/dioxin, she said.

“We support the claims of AO/dioxin victims against the US chemical firms and those that commercially manufactured AO/dioxin during the war in Vietnam,” the spokeswoman said.

The Vietnamese Embassy in France has kept in close contact with Nga, encouraging her and standing ready to offer her suitable support, Hang added./.

Hanoi suspends Thu Cuc Clinic due to Covid-19 case

The Hanoi Department of Health today, May 13, issued a decision suspending the operations of the Thu Cuc International General Clinic, under the Thu Cuc Medical and Beauty Care JSC, located at 216 Tran Duy Hung in Cau Giay District, to verify and address issues related to its admission and treatment of a Covid-19 case reported on May 12.

Besides, the suspension was also aimed at ensuring the safety of Covid-19 infection prevention operations in line with the Ministry of Health’s regulations, the local media reported.

The clinic will resume its medical checkup and treatment operations only once it gets permission from the municipal department.

On May 12, the Hanoi Department of Health reported two Covid-19 cases linked to Danang City, including a woman and her husband.

The woman on May 9 went to the Thu Cuc Clinic for a medical checkup after showing some suspected symptoms of Covid-19, but the clinic refused to admit her and advised her to go home.

Meanwhile, on May 12, the man also developed some symptoms of Covid-19, so the two visited the Viet Xo Friendship Hospital to have their samples tested. Their samples came back positive for Covid-19.

HCM City’s authorities expel 52 illegal immigrants

VIETNAM NEWS HEADLINES MAY 14 (Updated hourly)
Border guard hand over illegal migrants to authorised forces

Ho Chi Minh City’s police announced on May 13 that 52 foreigners who had illegally entered the country and were arrested in the city, have been expelled.

This is the second time HCM City’s authorities have deported illegal immigrants since the start of the year.

The illegal immigrants admitted that with the help of some Vietnamese brokers, they had entered Vietnam via trails and crossings in the northern border then travelled to HCM City by coach, aiming to seek jobs in the city or going to Cambodia.

HCM City’s police and relevant agencies have stepped up inspections in an attempt to detect illegal immigrants and impose hefty fines on those who arrange illegal entry and stay for foreigners, amid the resurgence of COVID-19 in many localities.

The city’s police also launched investigations on several cases./.

HCM City among top 10 destinations to live and work for digital nomads

Ho Chi Minh City has been named in the top 10 of a list compiled by Club Med’s website of destinations to live and work in for digital nomads in 2021, according to Euronews.

Ho Chi Minh City is one of 10 best destinations to live and work for digital nomads 
The survey conducted by Club Med aims to work out exactly where digital nomads should be flocking to this year and is based on several criteria. This includes considering factors such as cost of living, safety, average internet speed, number of adventurous activities, number of relaxing activities, and places to work.

In its article, Euronews states that the digital nomad lifestyle is now a more attainable than ever due to developments in technology helping to allow people to stay connected, wherever they are based in the world.

Ho Chi Minh City comes in second place on the list for digital nomads with a score of 274 out of 320.

According to Club Med, the southern metropolis has an approximate living cost of EUR830 a month, along with an average temperature of 34 degrees Celsius and high internet speeds, all of which make it a dream destination for digital nomads.

It also stressed the high scores the city achieved in the fun rating, scoring 4.5 out of five, along with a score of four out of five for places to work.

Phuket of Thailand tops the list with a total score of 290 out of 320.

Completing the list is Krabi of Thailand, Colombo of Sri Lanka, Jimbaran of Indonesia, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur of Malaysia, Cancun of Mexico, Siem Reap of Cambodia, and Canggu of Indonesia.

Contract signed for another North-South expressway section

The Ministry of Transport and a consortium of investors of the Dien Chau-Bai Vot subproject of the North-South Expressway project today, May 13, signed a contract for the subproject, which requires an estimated investment of VND11.2 trillion (US$484 million).

Le Kim Thanh, director of the Public-Private Partnership Department under the Ministry of Transport, said Dien Chau-Bai Vot was the second subproject of the expressway project executed under the PPP model to have its contract signed, after Nha Trang-Cam Lam, Thanh Nien Online newspaper reported.

Negotiations and the signing of the contract would not only help boost the socioeconomic development but also be a positive signal for the PPP investment model in traffic infrastructure projects in the 2021-2025 period when the State budget is tight.

Nguyen Quang Vinh, general director of Phuc Thanh Hung Investment JSC, which the investor consortium established to execute the subproject, said after signing the contract, it and the investor consortium would conduct a survey on the construction site, come up with a design and choose contractors to start work on the subproject late this month or early next month.

Speaking at the contract signing ceremony, Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Nhat said in the 2011-2015 period, the transport sector executed 88 infrastructure projects under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) format. However, since then, no projects have been implemented under this format.

The Ministry of Transport has worked with 126 teams inspecting and auditing BOT projects and has learnt about conducting BOT projects better, ensuring benefits for both the State and investors.

The PPP Law, which took effect on January 1 this year, has also created a legal foundation to conduct PPP infrastructure projects, including three subprojects of the North-South Expressway project.

Nhat asked the investor consortium to mobilize resources to ensure the subproject’s progress and quality. In addition, agencies under the Ministry of Transport must closely coordinate with the governments of Nghe An and Ha Tinh to remove obstacles facing the site clearance for the subproject.

According to Nhat, PPP projects need investors with strong financial capacity. The investor consortium of the Dien Chau-Bai Vot subproject includes many large firms which are experienced in construction.

Of these, the Civil Engineering Construction Corporation No. 4 is executing many large packages of the North-South Expressway project that use public investment and other expressway projects.

The Truong Son Construction Corporation has also developed many large traffic projects, such as the Ho Chi Minh Road and the Hanoi-Thai Nguyen and Noi Bai-Lao Cai expressways. It also won tenders for the Mai Son-National Highway 45, Cam Lo-La Son and My Thuan-Can Tho subprojects of the North-South Expressway project and is the investor of the first phase of the La Son-Tuy Loan Expressway project costing over VND11 trillion. 

The Dien Chau-Bai Vot subproject was designed to be some 50 kilometers long, with 44.4 kilometers in Nghe An and 4.9 kilometers in Ha Tinh.

In the first phase, the section will have four lanes with a total width of 17 meters and a design speed of 80 kilometers per hour. The section will comprise the 1.1-kilometer Than Vu Tunnel and four-kilometer Hung Duc Bridge.

As for the investment, some VND5.1 trillion will be mobilized by the investor consortium and nearly VND6.1 trillion will come from the State budget. It will take three years to execute the subproject and more than 16.5 years to recover the capital.

Vietnam’s COVID-19 testing capacity improved strongly: official

The current COVID-19 testing capacity of Vietnam has been improved substantially, rising two- to three-fold from the previous outbreaks, said Deputy Minister of Health Tran Van Thuan.

He made the remark at a teleconference on May 13 with the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, the Pasteur Institute, and testing establishments of the Ministry of Health (MoH).

Thuan said laboratories nationwide are now capable of testing 100,000 single samples per day, and the capacity can increase by five- to ten-fold when it comes to pooled testing.

Vietnam has mastered sufficient testing techniques to detect and diagnose the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, including the Read time RT-PCR for confirmatory testing, rapid antigen testing, and rapid antibody testing, he went on.

Guidelines for each type of testing and different scenarios, including the scenario of 30,000 infected cases recorded in the country, have also been issued, the official noted, asking the General Department of Preventive Medicine and the Administration of Science, Technology and Training to hold regular meetings to share testing experience and knowledge with other units and grassroots medical establishments.

There are 175 testing labs capable of conducting coronavirus tests nationwide at present, including 125 carrying out confirmatory tests, according to Nguyen Minh Hang, Deputy Director of the General Department of Preventive Medicine.

Compared to the previous outbreaks, Vietnam’s testing capacity has improved “very quickly” in this fourth wave of COVID-19 infections. Nearly 310,000 samples have been tested since April 27, when the resurgence began, she said.

Health officials pointed out that the COVID-19 situation remains complex in many countries, including some sharing the borderlines with Vietnam.

Many countries and territories have also recorded the emergence of new coronavirus variants that are more transmissible and dangerous such as the variants first found in the UK and India.

As of the noon on May 13, Vietnam had reported 3,679 cases of COVID-19, including 2,234 local infections and 1,445 imported ones./.

National Assembly Chairman welcomes Chinese Ambassador

National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue has affirmed that developing Vietnam – China comprehensive strategic partnership is a consistent policy, a strategic choice and top priority of Vietnam’s foreign policy.

During a reception in Hanoi on May 13 for Chinese Ambassador to Vietnam Xiong Bo, Hue congratulated China on its COVID-19 pandemic control, impressive economic recovery and the successful organisation of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the Chinese National Assembly’s meeting.

He affirmed that Vietnam attaches special importance to maintaining and developing neighbourliness and comprehensive cooperation with the Chinese Party, State and people.

NA Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue (right) receives Chinese Ambassador to Vietnam Xiong Bo. (Photo: VNA)
The NA leader noted that over the past more than 70 years, friendship and cooperation remain the mainstream of the Vietnam-China diplomatic relationship, in line with the era’s trend and the aspiration and essential interests of the two countries and their people

He expressed his delight at the growing Vietnam – China ties over the past years despite the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the maintenance of regular high-level exchanges, citing as an example that since early 2020, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and Chinese Party General Secretary and President Xi Jinping have held three important phone talks, during which they outlined significant strategic orientations to ties between the two Parties and countries. Exchanges and ties between the two nations’ ministries, agencies and localities have also been strengthened.

Hue also noted that the two countries have shared medical supplies with each other and helped each other in fighting the pandemic as well as in times of natural disasters. Economic and trade cooperation posted remarkable development.

The NA Chairman hailed the Chinese Embassy and the Chinese Ambassador for coordinating with the Vietnamese NA Committee for External Relations to carry out practical and effective joint activities between the two legislatures, including holding trips to China for e Vietnamese NA and People’s Council deputies.

The leader vowed to continue building on the past achievements to deepen bilateral friendship and coordination between the two legislatures.

Ambassador Xiong Bo, for his part, said China attaches importance to and supports Vietnam’s policy of pursuing socialism that suits its realities. He believed that under the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee, the country will fulfill goals set by the 13th National Party Congress.

He said relations between the two legislatures are an important part of the relationship between the two countries, and wished that the two sides would seriously implement common perceptions reached by leaders of the two Parties and countries, and bring into play their role in enhance the sharing of experience in Party building and national development as well as boost collaboration in various fields and understanding and friendly cooperation between the two peoples.

The guest wished Vietnam success in the upcoming election of deputies to the 14th NA and People’s Councils at all levels for the 2021-2026 tenure.

He added that Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China Li Zhanshu hopes to hold a phone talk with Chairman Hue to discuss measures to bolster ties between the two law-making bodies./.

More congratulations to National Assembly Chairman

More foreign legislative leaders have cabled their congratulations to Vuong Dinh Hue on his election as Chairman of the Vietnamese National Assembly.

The congratulations came from President of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) and Speaker of the Legislative Council of Brunei Darussalam Abdul Rahman Taib; Speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly of Indonesia Bambang Soesatyo; Speaker of the People’s Representative Council of Indonesia Puan Maharani; President of the Australian Senate Scott Ryan; and Speaker of the House of Representatives of Australia Tony Smith./.

Kiên Giang’s ambitious rural training plans

The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Kiên Giang plans to provide vocational training to 27,000 workers in rural areas this decade.

The programme is meant to help achieve its target of training 75 per cent of its workforce by 2025 and ensuring 80 per cent of trained workers work in relevant fields.

The province will prioritise areas in which farmers link up with companies to sell their produce, under the agricultural restructuring and the national one commune – one product (OCOP) programme, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

It will also focus on training members of co-operatives, workers who use advanced farming techniques, those in sectors key to various regions, and people seeking to go abroad as guest workers.

In the Long Xuyên Quadrangle, it will train people in seafood processing, aquaculture, fishing, cropping, animal husbandry and repair of boats and other marine equipment. 

To the west of the Hậu River, the focus will be on seafood processing, poultry and animal husbandry, fruit and high-quality rice cultivation, and industries in the Thạnh Lộc and Tắc Cậu Fishing Port industrial parks in Châu Thành District and the Vĩnh Hoà Hưng Nam Industrial Cluster in Gò Quao District.

In the U Minh Thượng region, the emphasis will be on skills related to fishing ports and logistics services, cultivation of rice and fruits, aquaculture, animal husbandry, and rice – shrimp, rice – crab, rice – fish, and aquatic species – forest farming models.

In the province’s island and coastal areas, the training will focus on aquaculture, fishing, cropping, and animal husbandry.

The department and local authorities will review the demand for vocational skills in agriculture and the building of new-style rural areas to provide suitable training. 

The Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and local authorities will review the demand for skills in non – agricultural sectors like industry and tourism to provide training.

The province will also help people find jobs after training and provide soft loans for them to carry on agriculture or business.

It plans to solicit investment in agriculture and rural development and continue investing in industrial parks and industrial clusters to create jobs. 

COVID-19 outbreaks at major hospitals in Hà Nội within control: health official

Deputy health minister Đỗ Xuân Tuyên has said that the COVID-19 outbreaks at two major hospitals in Hà Nội are still within control.

He was speaking during a virtual meeting on Wednesday with medical staff and leaders of the two facilities currently under lockdown after a cluster of infections were found at the Kim Chung facility of the frontline COVID-19 treatment hospital National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Đông Anh District, and the Tân Triều facility of the National Cancer Hospital (frequently called K Hospital) in Thanh Trì District.

Phạm Ngọc Thạch, Director of the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases, said at the moment the facility is housing 372 staff, 305 patients and 41 relatives who are taking care of the patients.

The hospital is treating 284 COVID-19 cases and 21 patients afflicted with other diseases, and Thạch wants to transfer these 21 patients to other medical facilities in Hà Nội – after they have tested negative for the coronavirus two or three times – to avoid risks of infections.

All medical staff who treat COVID-19 patients are negative for the virus since the prevention and control measures are quite strict, so it’s likely the source of infections could have come from the ICU wing or patients who went to the examination wing.

Genetic sequencing results also indicated the patients connected to the tropical diseases hospital’s cluster carry the Indian variant of coronavirus (B1.617), but most of the patients don’t show any clinical symptoms.

Lê Văn Quảng, Director of the K Hospital, said the hospital has not recorded any new cases within the locked-down facility since May 7.

The hospital is facing great pressure due to the number of cancer patients that have had to delay their examination and treatment, Quảng said, asking for more support to help test the contacts of confirmed patients that are quarantined at the hospital to leave for treatment at other facilities.

All the people under lockdown have tested negative, so Quảng wanted to reopen the faculties not affected by COVID-19.

Deputy health minister Tuyên asked that the two hospitals review prevention and control measures – especially COVID-19 screening of incoming patients – to remove the lockdowns as fast as possible.

He asked that the two hospitals conduct COVID-19 testing on all its staff – especially at high-risk faculties like emergency units, respiratory, or infections faculties – every seven days.

Public announcement systems at the hospitals must frequently broadcast messages to urge compliance with basic prevention measures like wearing masks, making health declarations and avoiding large gatherings.

“I personally and delegations from the health ministry all see good compliance (with COVID-19 prevention and control measures) from the hospitals when the inspections are carried out, but whether or not the hospitals maintain that level of compliance is another question,” Tuyên said.

The hospitals should also issue guidelines on limiting the number of visitors to inpatients during the time of outbreaks, Tuyên said.

He also agreed that the K Hospital could resume operations of some faculties if safe conditions are met but the hospital should work with Hà Nội health authorities regarding this issue. 

Pandemic prevention work strengthened to ensure safety on election day

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Preparations in Hanoi for the upcoming election day on May 23 have been basically completed. But amid the complex development of COVID-19, localities have stepped up information distribution efforts and developed plans to ensure a safe and successful election day.

All preparations for election day are now basically completed. All forces have been fully trained in their roles and responsibilities and also in pandemic prevention and control efforts.

In addition to following the “5K” message introduced by the Ministry of Health, the locality has also implemented several measures to ensure a safe and successful election day.

In the context of the complex development of COVID-19, the National Election Commission has recommended that all polling booths and places have clear paths and corridors to ensure a safe distance can be kept between voters, while wearing a face mask and using hand sanitiser is compulsory for all./.

Preschool teachers in Thái Bình prepare lunch boxes for health workers

Preschool teachers in the northern province of Thái Bình have called for the community to help prepare meals for doctors and staff at the provincial General Hospital, as well as patients and their caregivers.

The hospital, where COVID-19 cases are being treated, has been locked down from May 6-10.

All schools have been closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but from 4am every day, teachers at the Hoa Phượng and June 1 Kindergartens buy food at the local market.

Teacher Đỗ Thùy Linh was the initiator of the campaign.

“We all try to get our housework done early. We then help prepare lunch boxes for doctors, health workers and patients,” Linh said.

On May 6, when Thái Bình Province announced the first COVID-19 cases, many places were locked down, including the General Hospital, Linh said.

Like many local people, Linh immediately called her friends working at the hospital for more information.

“I knew that on May 6, more than 4,000 people, including doctors, medical workers, patients and family members had to stay in the hospital,” she said.

“Due to the unexpected appearance of the COVID-19 case and a subsequent lockdown, many health workers as well as patients were not prepared and don’t have even the most essential things.”

Linh and her relatives have called on the community to help those trapped in the hospital.

In just two days, she raised VNĐ24 million (over US$1,000).

Many colleagues from Hoa Phượng and Quang Trung kindergartens have volunteered to help with cooking, shopping, and packing lunch boxes.

“Every day, a ten-member group divides each job, from shopping to processing, cooking and packing meals,” Linh said.

The meals were nutritious and hygienic. On hot days, cooking was also more difficult, but everyone was happy to contribute a small part to share the difficulties with the frontline medical workers.

At around 10am, the meals are taken to the hospital’s gate. Due to safety regulations, these meals are disinfected, and the medical staff distribute the boxes to everyone.

Nguyễn Thị Phúc, a teacher at Hoa Phượng Kindergarten and mother of two little children, also volunteered to do chip in every day.

For her and many other volunteers, preparing the meals was a small effort to help health staff, doctors, and patients overcome difficulties.

Vũ Thị Sen, Principal of Hoa Phượng Kindergarten, who is also Đỗ Thùy Linh’s mother, said the images of medical staff over the past few days touched every member of her family, making them realise they needed to share the burden.

“They voluntarily put aside their own families to work day and night to protect people, hoping the current outbreak will come to an end,” Sen said.

“Therefore, the meals, although not much in material value, are of great spiritual significance, showing the community’s gratitude to the ‘white-shirted soldiers’ who are busy day and night fighting COVID-19.”

From May 7-10, Linh and her friends provided more than 400 meals to Thái Bình Provincial General Hospital.

Linh said that she was also willing to take care of the children of doctors and health workers so that parents could feel secure at work.

“All these activities are free of charge, derived from sympathy and compassion for the local medical force.”

A representative from the hospital’s Department of Social Affairs said in five days (May 6-10), the hospital received a lot of help from donors, who supplied meals, drinking water, masks and protective gear.

“This support is the driving force to help employees and doctors feel confident in COVID-19 pandemic prevention,” the representative said.

Linh said that her volunteer group will continue to help the frontline anti-pandemic forces.

“We will be providing breakfasts for the staff of the Provincial Centre for Disease Control.”

The northern province of Thái Bình has so far recorded nine cases of COVID-19 during the fourth outbreak in the country. 

Vietnamese community helps Laos combat COVID-19

The Vietnamese community is joining hands with the government as well as cities and provinces of Laos in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

On May 13, the Vietnamese Defence Ministry’s Army Corps 11 presented 10,000 N95 face masks to the Lao National Assembly, 200,000 masks and 10,000 tonnes of rice to the Lao Defence Ministry and 60,000 medical masks to the Vietnamese Association in Laos.

Army Corps 11 hands over gifts to the Vietnamese Association in Laos (Photo: VNA)
A day earlier, Army Corps 11 also handed over 10,000 medical masks and 5,000 others to North That Luang village and That Luang Pagoda in Xaysettha district of Vientiane capital, where the unit has been building the Lao National Assembly House.

Previously, the Vietnamese Associations in Champasak and Salavan provinces, and Vietnamese businesses operating in southern Lao provinces handed over cash, medical supplies and necessities worth nearly 28,000 USD to the host administrations to support their fight against COVID-19./.

State President visits HCM City’s major press agencies

State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc on May 13 visited and had working sessions with leaders of Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) Newspaper and Ho Chi Minh City Television (HTV), two major press agencies of the southern largest city.

During his visit to the editorial office of the Sai Gon Giai Phong Newspaper, which has a large circulation in HCM City and southern provinces, President Phuc spoke highly of efforts by its reporters and editors in fulfilling their assigned political tasks, especially in the dissemination of policies and measures of the Party and State and of the city to people, contributing to the construction and development of the southern hub over the past few years.

He called on the newspaper to actively invest in and apply information technology achievements in its operations, as well as improving the quality of its publications in a bid to attract more readers.

The State leader voiced his hope that staff of the newspaper will exert further efforts in reporting regulations and policies in all spheres, to create consensus among local people, notably about the upcoming elections of deputies to the 15th National Assembly and all-level People’s Councils for the 2021-2026 tenure and COVID-19 prevention and control.

At the HTV headquarters, the President also highly valued the HTV’s operations, stressing that it is a historical witness, accompanying the construction and development of the city.

President Phuc praised the HTV for impactful news coverage and engagement in the holding of numerous events honouring the country’s values and HCM City’s development in particular.

In particular, he spoke highly of the HTV’s effective dissemination of information about the implementation of the dual targets in the city and being one of the first units to put forth the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, hoping that it will produce more programmes facilitating HCM City’s growth along with the fight against corruption./.

National Assembly Chairman receives Lao Ambassador

Chairman of the National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue hosted a reception in Hanoi on May 13 for Lao Ambassador to Vietnam Sengphet Houngboungnuang, who was the first foreign ambassador to pay a courtesy visit to Hue as the top leader of the NA.

Hue congratulated Laos on successfully holding the 11th National Congress of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and the election of the new capable and prestigious leadership at the first session of the 9th National Assembly.

Vietnam has kept a close watch on the COVID-19 pandemic in Laos and shared sympathy with Laos over difficulties confronted by its people, he said.

The NA Chairman expressed his belief that under the sound leadership of the Lao Party and State, and with the determination and consensus of competent agencies and the entire people, the fraternal Lao people will control the pandemic soon and continue focusing on socio-economic development.

Affirming Vietnam’s consistent policy of giving the top priority to its relations with Laos and expressing his delight at the development of the great friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Laos, Hue said leaders of the two countries have regularly held talks to continue with existing cooperation mechanisms amid the pandemic. In particular, two-way trade has kept growing.

He went on to say that the two legislatures shared important experience in legislation, facilitated all-level visits, held thematic seminars and monitored the implementation of signed bilateral cooperation agreements.

Hue suggested the Lao ambassador work with the Vietnamese NA Committee for External Relations and other agencies to increase the exchange of delegations and experience via both online and in-person formats, particularly those related to lawmaking and deciding on important issues such as macro-economic and budget management, supervision over legal enforcement, celebrations for the 60th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties and the 45th anniversary of the signing of the Vietnam – Laos Treaty on Amity and Cooperation next year.

The Lao Ambassador, for his part, expressed his belief that under the leadership of the two nations’ leaders, the friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between Laos and Vietnam will further develop.

He thanked the Vietnamese Party and State for sending experts and medical supplies to help Laos fight the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as funding the construction of the Lao NA House which was completed on schedule to serve the first session of the 9th legislature.

In his position, the Lao ambassador pledged to do his best to develop relations between the two countries and Parties.

Hue said the Vietnamese Ministry of Construction will check and officially hand over the work to Laos in late June, stressing that it deserves one of the symbols of bilateral ties in the new period./.

PM holds working session with Ho Chi Minh City officials

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh held a working session with key officials of Ho Chi Minh City on May 13, his first meeting of the kind with a locality after taking up the top position in the Government, which demonstrated the special importance that the PM and the Government attach to the southern hub.

While acknowledging the efforts and important achievements that HCM City has made in the past years, PM Chinh noted that the city has failed to achieve socio-economic targets in the 2016-2020 period. He also pointed to outstanding problems such as slow disbursement of public investment capital, irrational land use structure, delayed equitisation of State-owned enterprises, and lower-than-expected human resource quality.

To address the problems, the PM suggested several major tasks that the city should implement, which are to strengthen the Party organisation, build clean and democratic administrative system with good discipline and order, and push ahead with administrative reform to meet requirements in the new stage of development.

In the immediate future, the city should strictly implement the Party and Government’s directions on COVID-19 prevention and control, and make thorough preparations for the safe and successful organization of the elections of deputies to the 15th National Assembly and all-level People’s Councils in the 2021-2026 tenure, he said.

The Government leader also asked the city to continue revise institutions, mechanisms and policies in order to make timely adjustments and supplements, mobilise social resources for development, pay more attention to human resources, and ensure social welfare, especially for disadvantaged groups in society.

PM Chinh said the Government basically agrees with the 15 proposals of the city and suggested one more idea on building a regional and international financial centre.

HCM City posted a 4.58 percent economic growth year-on-year in the first quarter of this year, along with a 14 percent increase in export value and 1.1 billion USD in foreign investment, while doing well in containing COVID-19, Chairman of the city People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong reported.

He added that the city has set nine key tasks in socio-economic development, including a 6.5 percent economic growth for 2021 and keeping the pandemic under control.

During his working trip to the city, the PM visited and gave encouragement to medical workers at the Cho Ray Hospital and the University Medical Centre.

“Frontline forces made important and decisive contributions to pandemic prevention and control as well as the settlement of consequences,” he said, stressing that the Party, State and people recognize and highly value the contribution of the contingent of medical workers./.

Shortage of workers in Japan under discussions

Permanent Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Hoang Quang Phong and Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Fukuroi city in Japan (FCCI) Kinji Mizutani discussed ways to deal with the shortage of labourers caused by COVID-19 pandemic in Japan during their recent talks.

As of the late October 2020, the total number of foreign workers in Japan surpassed 1.72 million, up about 65,000, equivalent to a 4 percent increase year-on-year. However, it was a far cry from a 13.6 percent rise in 2019, due to the fact that many foreign trainees could not go to Japan amid the COVID-19 pandemic spreading in many countries.

To address the issue, the Japanese Government allowed Vietnamese workers whose visas have expired to apply for specified skilled visa to do other jobs in the country, according to Kinji Mizutani.

Phong said there should be negotiations on the issue between the two Governments, adding that VCCI and FCCI will continue raising the issue during working sessions with relevant agencies and units, as well as propose measures to fix it as soon as possible.

VCCI will maintain the exchange of information about trade promotion demand between the two countries while holding online exchange and connecting activities between Vietnamese and Japanese firms./.

Two more provinces to hold early voting

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The National Election Council (NEC) has allowed the Central Highlands provinces of Kon Tum and Dak Lak to hold early voting at certain polling stations.

Accordingly, voters at polling stations in seven communes in Dak Glei district, and the border guard station in Dak Xu commune in Ngoc Hoi district, Kon Tum province, will cast their ballots to elect deputies to the 15th National Assembly and all-level People’s Council for 2021-2026 on May 22, one day ahead of schedule.

The voting will also take place the same day at polling stations of armed forces in Ea Sup and Buon Don districts, and Buon Ma Thuot city of Dak Lak province.

Apart from Kon Tum and Dak Lak, 12 other cities and provinces will also hold early voting in certain polling stations.

Voters nationwide will go to the poll to select 500 deputies to the 15th National Assembly from 868 candidates on May 23./.

State President hosts Vietnam Buddhist Sangha leaders

President Nguyen Xuan Phuc on May 13 hosted a reception for a delegation from the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS) led by Most Venerable Thich Thien Nhon, Chairman of its Executive Council.

At the reception, held on the occasion of the Buddha’s 2565th birthday, Most Venerable Thich Thien Nhon lauded the success of the Government in the 2016-2021 tenure in all fields.

He said that the VBS has grown comprehensively during its 40-year development, with its Buddhist affairs and activities in building religious solidarity and great national unity bloc lauded by people from all walks of life.

It has raised trillions of dong for the needy, while actively engaging in the movement of planting 1 billion trees as part of efforts to deal with climate change in the country, he said, adding that the organisation has also given strong response to the call regarding COVID-19 prevention and control.

The Sangha has hosted the UN Day of Vesak for three times, said Most Venerable Thich Thien Nhon, recognising the support from President Nguyen Xuan Phuc for the work. Meanwhile, it has paid special attention to the material and spiritual lives of Buddhist followers abroad, he added.

Leaders of the VBS expressed hope that as a State leader, President Nguyen Xuan Phuc will continue to create optimal conditions for the oganisation in its operations.

For his part, President Phuc congratulated the VBS and all Buddhist followers on the occasion of the Buddha’s birthday.

He thanked Most Venerable Thich Thien Nhon and other leaders of the VBS for their valuable opinions, while hailing the efforts of monks and followers in COVID-19 prevention and control.

Describing Buddhism as a religion accompanying the nation, the State leader noted that the organisation has taken the pioneering role in patriotic movements and religious solidarity. He also spoke highly of its charity activities.

He affirmed that the achievements of the Vietnam Buddhism have proved that the right to freedom of belief and religion of Vietnamese people have been protected by the Constitution and law.

The important contributions by the VBS has shown not only the close relations between Buddhism and the nation but also the unity between religion and life, between the Sangha and the country, as well as between Vietnam and the world.

He clarified that Vietnam is home to diverse religions with more than 90 percent of the population following a belief or religion and 24 million of religious followers, accounting for 27 percent of the country’s population.

The consistent policy of the Party and State in this field is respecting and observing the right to freedom of belief and religion of the people, he stated, pledging that the State works to ensure all religious practices take place in line with the law and regulations recognised by the State, while creating conditions for religious followers and dignitaries in religious practicing and performing their duties as a citizen.

He said he hopes the VBS will continue to promote its role and prestige in strengthening the national great unity bloc and the solidarity among religions, thus optimising the strengths of beliefs and religions as well as culture for the national development.

He also reminded ministries, sectors and localities to show strong performance in implementing ethnic and religious policies, while combating the abuse of beliefs and religions which go against the law.

He said he believes that the VBS will successfully organise upcoming important events, including the 40th anniversary of the organisation and the Buddhist congresses at all levels towards the national-level Congress./.

Vietnam Airlines’ frontline personnel inoculated against COVID-19

As many as 1,500 frontline employees of national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines are being vaccinated against COVID-19 from May 13 to 20.

They comprise pilots, flight attendants, and ground staff, who have frequent contact with passengers.

The inoculation, using the AstraZeneca vaccine, is carried out at the vaccination centre of the Hanoi-based Vietnam National Children’s Hospital, with about 250 people to get the jabs each day.

Vietnam Airlines is the country’s first air carrier to arrange the vaccinations for both the flight crew and ground handling workers.

Earlier, nearly 800 employees of the Vietnam Airlines Group at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City and Vinh Airport in central Nghe An province were inoculated.

The latest vaccination programme will raise the number of the inoculated personnel of the group, consisting of Vietnam Airlines, Pacific Airlines, and VASCO, to nearly 2,300.

The Vietnam Airlines Group is to keep working with relevant agencies to expand the vaccine coverage to all the staff, using its welfare fund.

Together with existing anti-COVID-19 measures, the carrier expects the vaccinations will help protect its staff, passengers, and the community from the disease and encourage air travel./.

VSS proposes increasing assistance for voluntary social insurance holders

The Vietnam Social Security (VSS) has proposed the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs raise the State’s monetary support for payment of voluntary social insurance premiums.

The assistance is proposed to increase from the current level of 30 percent to 50 percent of the total premiums for poor holders and from 25 percent to 30 percent for near-poor holders. Others will be entitled to 20 percent, instead of 10 percent at present, according to the VSS’s proposal.

The agency expects the raise will help attract more voluntary participants, particular those from poor and near-poor households, with the coverage growing from nearly 1.13 million at the end of 2020 to around 3.6 million by the end of 2025 and 8.9 million by 2030./.

HCMC asks all hospitals to test employees, patients, caregivers for Covid-19

The HCMC Department of Health yesterday evening, May 12, asked all hospitals in the city to urgently collect samples from all employees, patients and caregivers for Covid-19 testing.

The hospital began to take samples immediately after receiving the order last night and continued to collect more samples this morning.

The order came after a patient from the Hanoi-based K Hospital, which is currently one of the country’s Covid-19 hotspots, visited the HCMC Oncology Hospital but declined to say he had visited K Hospital for nasopharynx cancer treatment.

The patient visited K Hospital on April 24 and the HCMC Oncology Hospital on May 12. However, he said in the health declaration upon his arrival at the HCMC Oncology Hospital that he is a resident of Binh Duong Province, which is adjacent to HCMC, even though he is a native of the north central province of Quang Tri.

K Hospital in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi City, has reported 13 cases and is now under lockdown. People who visited K Hospital since mid-April must complete heath declarations and be quarantined and tested for Covid-19.

Nguyen Tri Dung, director of the HCMC Center for Disease Control, said the city is using the real time polymerase chain reaction technique to perform Covid-19 tests for samples from hospitals. According to Dung, this technique gives more accurate results than rapid tests.

This is the first time that the city has conducted such an urgent and a mass Covid-19 testing campaign.

Pham Xuan Dung, director of the HCMC Oncology Hospital, said the hospital has taken samples from over 2,000 doctors, nurses, patients and caregivers and all of them tested negative for Covid-19.

During the current fourth Covid-19 wave, which started late last month, the city has reported only one locally transmitted case linked to the Covid-19 hotspot in the northern province of Ha Nam.

Nguyen Tan Binh, director of the HCMC Department of Health, said the city has 24 Covid-19 testing facilities capable of testing some 15,000 samples a day. In case of emergency, the capacity could be raised to 30,000-40,000 samples a day.

Two more north-south trains suspended due to Covid-19

The latest resurgence of Covid-19 facing many parts of Vietnam has forced the local railway sector to suspend the operations of the SE5/SE6 trains on the Hanoi-HCMC route.

The SE5 train departing from the Hanoi station had its operations suspended today, May 12, and the SE6 train starting at the Saigon station will stop offering services from May 14.

Passengers who booked tickets for these trains can return them to railway stations before the time of departure and will not be charged any fee, reported VietnamPlus.

Accordingly, from May 14, only the SE3/SE4 and SE7/SE8 trains will remain operational on the north-south railway.

Specifically, on the Hanoi-HCMC route, the SE3 train will leave the Hanoi station at 19:25 everyday, and the SE7 will depart from the station at 6:00 daily. On the HCMC-Hanoi route, the SE4 will start at the Saigon station at 19:25 and the S84 will leave the station at 6:00 everyday.

To prevent the spread of Covid-19, all passenger trains will be cleaned and disinfected after each trip. The railway sector has also deployed Covid-19 preventive measures at all railway stations, asked its employees to wear face masks while working and raised public awareness about Covid-19 safety measures.

Besides this, the sector will regularly update developments on the Covid-19 situation and adjust its schedule to offer train services based on the travel demands of passengers.

HCMC re-establishes Covid-19 control stations in land, sea border crossings

The HCMC Government asked the municipal departments of Police and Health along with relevant units and local authorities of districts and Thu Duc City to re-establish Covid-19 monitoring and control stations in land, sea border crossings throughout the city, starting at 0.00 am on May 15.

The urgent statement on enhancing measures to cope with epidemic outbreak in the city was signed by Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of HCMC Duong Anh Duc.

Accordingly, the municpal Department of Transport must publish guidance on travel restrictions to transport operators to require all of vehicle drivers and owners, bus staff, passengers to fill and submit health declaration forms and wear masks on public transport vechicles, at airports, bus or ferry terminals, train stations, seaports, and not transporting illegal immigrants.

The HCMC Export Processing zone and Industrial Park Authority (HEPZA) must strengthen inspection and supervision at enterprises, and order them to comply with Covid-19 rules at workplace issued by the HCMC Steering Committee for Disease Prevention and Control.

The border guard force must increase maritime surveillances to control all incoming and outgoing vessel traffic to prevent illegal entry to the mainland. Only vessels are allowed to dock at ports to pick up and deliver goods while crew members are banned to leave the ship to enter the city.

The People’s Committee also asked the Department of Health to delegate all hospitals to conduct periodic screening tests in healthcare workers and patients to reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infection, ensure collecting 50,000 samples for Covid-19 testing per day; and increase RT – PCR (Real time – Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests.

Additionally, the city has set up more centralized quarantine facilities providing more than 10,000 beds, prepared treatment plans for 50-100, 100-200 and 200-500 Covid-19 patients and establishment of a 5,000-bed field hospital if there will be 30,000 infected patients.

The municipal Government has ordered all departments, State agencies, districts, Thu Duc City, orgainizations and individuals across the city to continue to strictly tighten and take preventive measures against Covid-19.

Senior-high school entrance exam in HCMC to have content adjustment
 
The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Education and Training yesterday announced that it already submitted the detailed plan for the senior-high school entrance exam to HCMC People’s Committee, including the adjustment in the content of all three tests of Math, Literature, and English Language.

In the academic year of 2020-2021, there are 99,569 students graduated from their junior-high school. 83,324 of them register for the senior-high school entrance exam, including 75,854 examinees into regular classes, 6,485 into classes for the gifted, and 985 into integrated classes.

Since the numbers of registrants into integrated classes for the academic year of 2021-2022 in the four senior-high schools of Vo Thi Sau, Tran Hung Dao, Thu Duc, and Nguyen Huu Cau do not match the quantity requirement set by the HCMC Education and Training Department, those classes will be canceled.

Deputy Director of the HCMC Department of Education and Training Nguyen Van Hieu shared that the content of this year’s exam will follow the same format, but the number of questions to categorize contestants will reduce. Instead, the quantity of questions for practical matters will increase.

This department has already issued an instructional document to its divisions in 21 districts and Thu Duc City regarding teaching and learning activities of Grade 9 and 12. Accordingly, students of these grades can come back to school for revision lessons as long as the corresponding schools are able to carry out disease prevention methods.

Besides observing the 5K rule, those schools must maintain a 2-meter distance between two students in the same room. The playground must be carefully use in schedule to avoid being over-crowded in break times.

In case the quantity of Grade 9 or 12 students is more than the regulated one, those schools must use both online and offline learning methods and let students take turn to come to school.

However, since learners of grade 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 follow the online learning mode, the schools are quite spacious for students of grade 9 and 12 to use.

Ha Tinh receives valuable lacquer paintings of “Tale of Kieu”

The special national relic site for dedicated great poet Nguyen Du in Nghi Xuan District’s Tien Dien Commune in Ha Tinh Province on May 12 received a collection of four lacquer paintings of Truyen Kieu (Tale of Kieu), a masterpiece of Vietnamese classic epic poetry by Nguyen Du, said Head of the management board of the memorial site, Ho Bach Khoa. 

The rare and valuable artworks owned by a collector who has a love for the Tale of Kieu depict the love between Thuy Kieu and Kim Trong, using Dong Ho folk painting style.

Each of the paintings is 35 centimenter wide and 1.2 meter high and weighs more than 2 kilograms.
Truyen Kieu (Tale of Kieu), a masterpiece of Vietnamese classic epic poetry by the great Vietnamese poet Nguyen Du has the most number of translations in more than 30 languages.

The classic literature is a unique work containing 3,254 verses which are divided into hundreds of short poems. The story tells a tragic tale of a woman of great beauty and talent whose fate turns tragic. The young lady named Vuong Thuy Kieu is forced to sell herself to save her family, even though she is very learned. She overcomes many hardships in a lifelong pursuit of her love to Kim Trong.

Nguyen Du, also known as To Nhu and Thanh Hien, was born in 1765 to a noble family in Thang Long (Hanoi).

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) chose the great Vietnamese poet Nguyen Du among other world famous personalities at its 37th General Assembly in Paris in 2013. He was also recognized by the World Peace Council as one of the world’s cultural celebrities in 1965.

Poet Nguyen Du has been recognized by UNESCO for his Truyen Kieu (Tale of Kieu), a masterpiece of Vietnamese classic epic poetry.

Hanoi Police impose total fine of US$130,073 on people without masks

According to the statistics of Hanoi’s police, police forces in the city have issued fines of over VND3 billion (US$130,073) for thousands of residents without facial masks in public places from the beginning of May to now.

Particularly, the Police of Hoan Kiem District collected a total fine of more than VND300 million (nearly US$13,000) for nearly 200 people including four foreigners who were found without facial masks.

On average a day, the city’s functional forces imposed a penalty of more than VND300 million (nearly US$13,000) for over 200 cases not wearing masks in public places.

On May 11, around 212 cases were made records with a total fine of VND340 million (US$14,722) for not doing the requirement.

Nha Trang property violation brought to court

Khanh Hoa Province Police on May 12 officially brought to court the case related to the Golden Gate apartment project in Nha Trang for violations of regulations on the use of State property, causing loss and waste.

To start the project, Khanh Hoa Province’s People’s Committee in February 2013 requested production facilities on the land to move out. A document assigning the project to Nha Trang Golden Top Co., Ltd. was issued just three months later, and an investment certificate ten months afterwards.

According to initial records, the project includes luxurious hotel and apartment complexes with a capital of VND1,250 billion (about US$54 million) covering over 20,100 square meters.

The Khanh Hoa Province’s People’s Committee on February 16, 2016 issued a signed decision to allocate land to Nha Trang Golden Top Co., Ltd. over an area of more than 25,570 square meters. In which, the hotel complex is 25-storey high with two 30-storey luxurious tourist complexes with 608 rooms.

The People’s Committee violated guidelines by not holding auctions for such a large-scale project and approved a much lower price range for land use levy and rent for Nha Trang Golden Top Co., Ltd.

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

VIETNAM NEWS HEADLINES MAY 13 (Updated hourly)

VIETNAM NEWS HEADLINES MAY 13

COVID-19: 31 new cases recorded on May 13 afternoon



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