The Ministry of Health this evening, July 5 confirmed 527 new Covid-19 cases, including 13 imported cases and 514 domestic infections, raising the daily total to 1,102, the most infections recorded in a single day so far.

The 13 imported cases were reported in Tra Vinh and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces.

Among the domestic cases, HCMC continued to account for the most, 270, taking its Covid-19 count to 6,675 in the current fourth Covid-19 wave, counting from April 27.

Binh Duong Province came second with 114 cases, raising its caseload to 766, followed by Dong Thap with 62 that sent the province’s number of daily infections to 165.

Eleven cases each were detected in Tien Giang and Phu Yen, 10 in Khanh Hoa, eight in Dong Nai and six in An Giang.

Binh Phuoc and Ba Ria-Vung Tau detected four cases each, while Binh Dinh, Tay Ninh and Bac Giang had three infections each, and Bac Ninh, Nghe An and Lam Dong saw one case each.

Since the current fourth Covid-19 wave, Vietnam has had 17,594 locally-infected Covid-19 cases in 55 provinces and cities, with 5,248 patients having been declared free of the virus.

In related news, the HCMC Department of Health has proposed piloting home quarantine for direct contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases in eight districts, including Phu Nhuan, Nha Be, Can Gio, 3, 6, 7, 10 and 11, which were classified as having a medium risk of Covid-19 infection, from today.

After 14 days of the pilot, the municipal department will evaluate the result and effectiveness to consider expanding the home quarantine program to other districts in the group with a high risk of Covid-19 transmission.

This home quarantine program will not be applied to the extremely-high-risk group, according to the municipal department.

Before undergoing the home quarantine period, the direct contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases must stay at a concentrated quarantine center for 14 days and test negative for Covid-19 on the 14th day.

The self-isolation at home is expected to help ease the overload at quarantine centers in HCMC, the local media reported.

In another development, several hospitals in HCMC were overloaded as many residents rushed to get Covid-19 tests to have negative Covid-19 test certificates that allow them to travel to Dong Nai Province and Di An City in Binh Duong Province.

The Eastern People Military Hospital, Thu Duc City Hospital and Le Van Thinh Hospital in Thu Duc City on July 5 became crowded with hundreds people visiting the sites for Covid-19 testing, Tuoi Tre Online reported.

They were mainly drivers and workers who live in Di An City or Dong Nai Province, but work in HCMC.

To avoid mass gatherings that might spread Covid-19, these hospitals had to suspend testing operations.

Natural disasters cost Vietnam 508 billion VND in first half

A total of 508 billion VND (22.14 million USD) was lost due to natural disasters between January and June this year, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

The disasters left 34 people dead and missing, and 51 others injured.

Meanwhile, 6,600 cattle and poultry were killed; 47,500 ha of rice and 12,400 ha of vegetables damaged; and 7,938 houses collapsed, and were swept away or flooded.

According to Tran Quang Hoai, General Director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s General Department of Disaster Prevention and Control, Vietnam was hit by 14 storms, a depression, 120 flash floods and landslides, 90 earthquakes, and other types of natural disasters last year, with 357 fatalities and economic losses of 39.96 trillion VND (1.73 billion USD).

Up to seven storms are forecast to hit mainland Vietnam in 2021./.

328 new domestic cases added to national count of COVID-19

Vietnam posted 328 more local COVID-19 infections in the past 12 hours to 6am on July 5, the Ministry of Health (MoH) announced.

Ho Chi Minh City, which is the country’s current largest pandemic hotspot, recorded most of the infections, with 175 cases, closely followed by the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap with 100 cases.

Twenty-three of the remainder were detected in Phu Yen, nine in Hung Yen, eight in Khanh Hoa, six in An Giang, two each in Long An and Ba Ninh, and one each in Lang Son, Dong Nai, and Soc Trang.

Of the new infections, 272 were found in quarantine and sealed-off areas.

The new infections brought the national tally to 20,261, including 18,403 domestic and 1,858 imported cases.

A total of 7,819 patients were given the all-clear from coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, while the death toll was 86.

Among active patients undergoing treatment, 313 have tested negative to the virus, 132 twice and 74 thrice.

There were 16,833 cases detected since April 27 when the fourth outbreak hit the nation.

Fourteen localities had gone through 14 days without reporting new domestic infections.

On July 4, 24,325 more people were vaccinated across 11 localities nationwide. As of 4pm same day, nearly 3.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered, with 223,336 people receiving two doses./.

Vietnam urged to transform food system amid challenges

Transforming the food system can help meet many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to a community of experts who are joining forces to confront challenges in Vietnam.

The Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) – a global partnership that unites international organisations engaged in research for a food-secured future – led an online meeting in Hanoi last week, bringing together key people from state agencies, academia, NGOs, donor agencies and industry to help address existing and emerging challenges and opportunities in Vietnam's agri-food systems and inform policies and investments ahead of the United Nations Food Systems Summit.

As world leaders, movers, and activists prepare for the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) in September 2021, countries are gathering evidence and identifying key solutions to pressing issues in their local food systems.

In June, CGIAR centres participated in and contributed to a series of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)-convened dialogues that are organised at national and sub-national levels.

The independent dialogue on July 1 was another effort by CGIAR centres in Vietnam to enhance the awareness of key stakeholders engaged in the National Food Systems Dialogue about the potential contribution of CGIAR to achieve responsible, accountable, sustainable and resilient food systems in the country.

The dialogue also seeks to facilitate conversations with partners to identify the way forward on how CGIAR and partners can work together to better address the needs and priorities identified by national partners and policymakers for achieving sustainable and resilient food systems in the country. According to experts, Vietnam's food systems are diverse and facing many challenges.

Global climate change forecasts and reality in recent years show that Vietnam is one of the countries most heavily affected by the changing climate.

Vietnam needs to take specific actions to promote cooperation, synergising with external forces to support the formation and development of a smart and resilient food systems, ensuring food safety. Food security and nutrition is not only for nearly 100 million Vietnamese people but also contribute to ensuring world food security, especially in the context of the complicated development of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CGIAR has been working extensively in various initiatives around Vietnam, ranging from agriculture, nutrition and diets, One Health and climate issues—and more recently contributing to COVID-19 initiatives.

Ten out of 15 CGIAR are operating in Vietnam. Among those, the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, the International Potato Center (CIP), the World Agroforestry (ICRAF), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), WorldFish, and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) contributed substantially to this dialogue.

Dao The Anh, Vice President of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS), said that research by CGIAR contributed to improving the sustainability of food systems of Vietnam by using a multidisciplinary and integrated approach.

Jean Balié, CGIAR regional director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, emphasised the significance of transforming agri-food systems in the region toward improved environmental, economic and social sustainability as well as climate-resilience.

“The unified and comprehensive efforts of CGIAR in Vietnam aims to support the country to achieve this profound and urgent transformation of food systems within planetary boundaries while keeping sight of national socio-economic development targets,” said Balié.

Stephan Weise, managing director for Asia of the Alliance said that now was the time to work across sectors and themes in an integrated manner at the local through to the national level.

Also last week, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Minh Hoan attended the Country Leadership Roundtable on delivering action for food systems in support of the UN Food Systems Summit 2021. 

Giving his remarks at the online event, Hoan affirmed that Vietnam welcomed and actively responded to the call of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Food Systems Summit in 2021.

Vietnam looked forward to contributing to the construction of the global food safety system as a “responsible, transparent, and sustainable” food provider country, he said.

Hoan introduced three key initiatives that Vietnam wants to cooperate with international partners to improve the transformation of food systems in Asia and the world. 

Firstly, Vietnam wants to promote connectivity among innovation networks in the country and across the world. Vietnam hopes to become a food innovation hub in the Asian region. 

Secondly, Vietnam would strengthen digital technical applications to develop smart agriculture value chains which are sustainable and highly adaptive to emerging problems. The country planned to make digital transformation a key mission in the agriculture industry, engaging businesses and farmers to apply digital technology in the production and agricultural service delivery.

Thirdly, Vietnam targeted to develop ecological agriculture production, ensuring the linkage between producers and consumers as a vital requirement for food security.

 “Vietnam is committed to continuing its orientation towards large-scale, low-emission agriculture and sustainable growth. We affirm our participation in the program “100 million farmers: transition to a net-zero and environmentally friendly food system” initiated by WEF,” the minister said. 

According to FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, the food security issues in Asia as well as in the world have been hugely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was necessary to include the poor in rural areas in development programmes as well as build up a more inclusive and complete food system to provide sufficient food for people. 

Transformation in agriculture and food production helps to better connect stakeholders, creating a mechanism to track and understand countries' progress in achieving the development goals of the United Nations.

“It takes over eight more years to rush the goals and there is a lot of work to be done, in which the issue goes far beyond the agricultural investment and production to international trade promotion, opening to approach new markets or upgrade of infrastructure and technologies to promote the connection between producers and consumers,” said Qu Dongyu.

Lam Dong farmers dig more ponds to secure irrigation water

The Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) province of Lâm Đồng will continue providing support until 2025 to farmers who dig small ponds to store irrigation water for their crops.

Under a project to dig small ponds from 2016-2020, farmers dug 2,996 small ponds with a total capacity of 7.9 million cu.m, meeting 54 per cent of the targeted number and 95 per cent of the targeted pond capacity, according to Nguyễn Văn Sơn, director of the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The project received a warm response from farmers as a shortage of irrigation water in the dry season had affected crop output, especially high-value trees like coffee, tea and durian.

The total cost of the project was VNĐ71.8 billion (US$3.1 million) or 55 per cent from the province’s budget and 45 per cent from farmers.  

The small ponds draw groundwater or are supplied water by reservoirs.

In the 2016 - 20 period, small ponds dug under the project provided irrigation water for 8,317ha of the province’s total 236,972ha of farming areas that need to be irrigated.

In the 2016 - 20 period, farmers digging small ponds were provided with a 50 - 70 per cent subsidy to cover the cost of renting digging machines.

The province People’s Committee has assigned the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in co-operation with relevant departments and agencies to write a project draft for the 2021 – 25 period and submit it to the People’s Committee for approval.

The province last week asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to approve a project to build canals and ditches for transporting water from two reservoirs to farming areas.

The two reservoirs were built in the 2016 – 20 period but canals and ditches to transport water to farming areas have not been built.

The project, to cost VNĐ400 billion ($17.4 million), will provide irrigation water for nearly 4,000ha of farming areas and household-use water for 22,000 people in downstream areas.

Đạ Lây Reservoir aims to provide irrigation water for 1,400ha of farming areas and 7,000 people in Đạ Tẻh District’s Đạ Lây Commune and Cát Tiên District’s Tư Nghĩa Commune.

Đạ Sị Reservoir will provide irrigation water for 2,500ha of farming areas and household-use water for 15,000 people in Tiên Hoàng, Gia Viễn, Nam Ninh and Mỹ Lâm communes in Cát Tiên District. 

PM works with eight southern localities on pandemic control measures

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on July 4 chaired an online meeting with leaders of eight southern localities on measures to stamp out the COVID-19 pandemic.

The eight localities, namely Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Long An, Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh, Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Tien Giang provinces – have been experiencing complicated pandemic developments.

According to the Ministry of Health, Vietnam has so far recorded 19,570 infections, including over 16,000 found in the current fourth outbreak. Particularly, the pandemic is spreading rapidly in HCM City with large number of cases and hot spots, many have yet to defince infection sources.

In the meeting, PM Chinh asked leaders of ministries, sectors and localities to give proposals on mechanisms, personnel and equipment to control the pandemic and prevent it from spreading widely and affecting people’s health and the country’s socio-economic development.

Leaders of localities spoke highly of the solutions and guidance given recently by the Government, ministries and sectors in COVID-19 prevention and control, especially in the flexible arrangement of priorities in the pandemic fight and socio-economic development as well as the implementation of “three-on-spot solution” (having meals, resting and working on the spot) in businesses and industrial parks.

Concluding the session, PM Chinh stated that the Government has directed ministries and sectors to send more forces to HCM City and some southern localities, while requesting the health sector, military, public security forces and COVID-19-free localities to give a helping hand to localities if necessary.

The government leader affirmed that the orientations, measures and methods being applied in COVID-19 prevention and control are on the right track.

He underlined the need for all people to continue to implement the “5K message,” along with vaccination and application of technology to control the pandemic.

Self-testing and home quarantine will be piloted, he said, adding that mechanisms and policies will be completed to create a smooth legal corridor in pandemic prevention and control, while disciplines, supervision and inspection will also be strengthened.

PM Chinh asked HCM City and neighbouring localities to coordinate closely together to ensure the smooth flow of goods and production activities with strict implementation of safe transportation and travelling.

Responding to localities’ opinions on difficulties and obstacles facing them, he asked relevant agencies to summarise them and settling the issues in accordance with their authority, and submit proposals to the Government on issues beyond their power./.

Belgian Embassy donates 10 tons of rice to female workers in Ha Tinh

On behalf of the Embassy of Belgium in Hanoi and the Vietnam Women’s Union, the Women’s Union of Ha Tinh recently handed over 10 tons of sustainable rice to informal female workers affected by COVID-19 in the province.

Each of the 2,000 beneficiaries in 11 communes in Ha Tinh Province will receive 5 kilograms of rice.

Since March 2020, Vietnam has experienced few epidemic outbreaks, which have negatively impacted its economy and society, especially the lives of informal workers who have lost their livelihoods and incomes. Therefore, the Embassy of Belgium decided to coordinate with the Vietnam Women’s Union to support female workers in Ha Tinh Province.

“The COVID-19 pandemic caused many casualties over the world as well as heavy losses for Vietnam. In June last year, the Embassy of Belgium in Hanoi City distributed sanitary packages to preschool children and families in Quang Nam, Quang Ngai and Kon Tum provinces. This time, we would like to support the vulnerable and informal female workers in Ha Tinh Province so they can partly overcome their current difficulties,” said Ambassador Paul Jansen.

The 10 tons of sustainable rice bags are from the Binh Thanh Cooperative in Dong Thap Province supported by the Belgium-funded project “Sustainable and inclusive rice in Vietnam” implemented by the NGO Rikolto.

This project, in the framework of the strategic partnership over agriculture between Belgium and Vietnam, enables smallholder farmers to take up their role in rural poverty alleviation and contribute to feeding a growing world population in a sustainable way by mainstreaming inclusive business models and practices for sustainable rice.

The participating farmers have been convinced of its economic and environmental benefits, including reduced input costs, decreased agrochemical application and a more diversified ecosystem.

Ly Son Islands look for future ‘green’ growth

Ly Son Islands, 30km off the coast of Quang Ngai Province, should be transformed into a ‘green’ pearl in the ocean, a low carbon site, an international Geo-Park with vestiges of ancient volcanoes and a rich fishing culture.

The future development of the islands was discussed at a recent online talk among more than 100 Vietnamese archaeologists, geologists, volcano researchers, historians, conservationists and experts in education, tourism and planning.

The participants agreed that overloaded infrastructure projects in the future will destroy the geological structure and ecosystem on the islands.

Researchers raised concerns as local authorities recently proposed development plans including an international airport and expanding the island area.

“Ly Son Islands, which were naturally formed over millions of years, are an outpost of the country’s defence and security in the East Sea. They have cemented the country’s sovereignty on the sea and islands including Truong Sa (Spratly) and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagos,” said Vo Van Minh from Da Nang University of Education.

“The sea expansion will surely damage coral reefs, seagrass beds and biodiversity in waters off the islands. It will erode the islands’ foundation and risk collapse,” he explained.

The islands still hold the Hoang Sa festival, recognised as an intangible cultural heritage, that has been observed for hundreds of years by local fishing families.

The festival pays tribute to local men who enlisted in the Hoang Sa Flotilla. This group was organised to patrol the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos in order to mine resources and defend the nation's sovereignty over the territorial waters.

Centuries-old houses are still preserved, as is Am Linh Pagoda, built to worship the souls of sailors who died during long, regular patrols of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa islands in the Nguyen Dynasty (in the 17th century).

A local museum displays over 200 ancient documents and 100 exhibits that prove that Hoang Sa and Truong Sa islands belong to Vietnam.

Former director of the Vietnam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources, Tran Tan Van, said the recognition of the Ly Son-Sa Huynh Global Geo-Park will help Quang Ngai preserve its heritage and contribute to economic growth.

He said the dossier for the recognition had passed the initial assessment by experts from the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) on the international geological heritage value, and it needs a field survey for revaluation of the islands’ heritage.

Ly Son Islands were formed by five mountains, of which four are dormant volcanoes.

Nguyen Van Long, from the Institute of Oceanography, under the Vietnam Academy for Science and Technology, said Ly Son Islands have one of the largest areas of coral reef on 1,706ha, and 116ha of seagrass bed in Vietnam.

He said the seas off the islands has huge seafood resources with more than 1,200 tonnes being caught, bringing an income of VND212 billion (US$9.2 million) per year.

Long said field assessments reported that human activities in recent years had damaged the ecological system off the islands.

“Over-fishing, or fishing by explosives, plastic waste pollution and climate change have bleached coral reefs and sea anemone in the area,” Long said.

He said the islands, which have high biodiversity with 768 species, need to be urgently protected and conserved.

Senior lecturer of the HCM City-based Marketing and Finance University, Dang Van My, said Ly Son Islands had not yet taken advantage of its tourism potential.

Tourists could visit the islands in the six months of the dry season (between April and October), while boat trips to the islands in the off-season were limited, he added.

“Investors could not get back their investments in resorts and hotels from six months of tourism service annually. So, property speculation follows the tourism investors,” he warned.

Bui Thi Thu Hien, marine and coastal resource programme co-ordinator from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said a ‘blue sea’ economy should be planned for Ly Son Islands, but this would require a huge fund for conservation activities.

She said the World Economic Forum 2020 reported that for every dollar spent on nature restoration, at least US$9 of economic benefits can be expected.

 

The IUNC launched a communication campaign to promote the non-use of plastic bags as a prelude to its sea turtle conservation programme on Ly Son from 2017-2018.

Hien said it would be impossible for Ly Son to host 4 million tourists when the islands’ underground water reserve can barely supply enough for islanders during the dry season.

She said the islands could not boost their ‘blue sea’ economy without further research on biodiversity and ecology.

Dr Chu Manh Trinh, a nature conservationist from the Cham Islands Marine Protected Area, suggested Ly Son promote its prosperity from nature conservation.

“Ly Son Islands could be a large ‘school’ and an ‘outdoor museum’ for researchers and students in exploring the geological heritage from ancient volcanoes and archaeology as well as fishing communities,” he said.

Pham Van Cong, founder and CEO of Dori company, said the islands’ economy, which is based on agriculture, fishing and tourism, had not benefited islanders, only tourism investors and service suppliers from the mainland.

“Tourism properties occupy a third of the total area on the islands, while half of the islands’ population make their living from growing garlic and purple onion,” Cong said.

“Most young men leave the islands after high school, causing a serious lack of human resources. Only low-educated adults remain and source an income from fishing and farming.”

Vo Minh Tuan, a member of the Ly Son-Sa Huynh Global Geo-Park management board, said underground water sources had been polluted by the over-use of 2,000 wells on the islands.

“Poor quality water would lead to rising health problems in the community. Waste treatment and afforestation plans have not yet been developed,” Tuan said.

An expert who wished to remain anonymous said building an international airport on the islands was unfeasible.

“The island, just 1.3km in length, is too short to the standard 3.5km runaway for hosting Airbus aircrafts. At least 288ha, or a third of the island will be reserved for infrastructure of the airport. It means that farming land, the port and a vast water area will be cleared for the airport,” he said.

The islands are accessible by a 30-minute speed-boat trip, while Chu Lai airport in Quang Nam is 30km away, and Da Nang International airport is a 90-minute bus ride.

Speaking at a press conference in April, Chairman of the Quang Ngai provincial People’s Committee Dang Van Minh said the dossier for UNESCO recognition of the Ly Son-Sa Huynh Global Geo-Park had been halted.

He said the park, which covers 4,600sq.km including 2,000sq.km of sea, will not reserve lands for economic plans.

However, General Decretary of the Global Geoparks Network and Chairperson of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Council, Guy Martini, said the Quang Ngai People’s Committee said the park could not limit industrial zones or urban zones if these projects are legal and follow Vietnamese environmental legislation.

The islands host around 200,000 tourists annually, with 18 hotels and 56 homestay facilities built to accommodate 1,000 tourists.

A ‘Non-carbon Island Initiative’ project including reverse osmosis (RO) desalination plants, wave-to-energy technology and battery-powered vehicles was planned for the islands, but was postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Cambodian NA Chairman rejoices over sound relationship with Vietnam

Cambodian National Assembly (NA) Chairman Heng Samrin expressed his delight at the increasingly strong relationship between Cambodia and Vietnam during a recent online meeting with Ambassador Vu Quang Minh, who bade farewell before ending his term.

During the course of the meeting, Ambassador Minh thanked the Cambodia NA leader, as well as competent Cambodian agencies, for creating favourable conditions for him to successfully complete his tasks during the term of office.

The Vietnamese diplomat also expressed his appreciation for the positive outcomes of the recent bilateral meeting held between NA Chairman Samrin and his Vietnamese counterpart Vuong Dinh Hue. This served to deepen co-operation between the two countries, with a particular focus on the two legislative bodies.

In response, NA Chairman Samrin applauded Ambassador Minh's positive contributions to reinforcing traditional friendship ties, solidarity, and co-operation in a wide range of fields between the respective parties, Governments, and people.

The Cambodian NA leader went on to state that despite complicated developments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, bilateral trade turnover enjoyed robust growth in the first half of the year. He therefore thanked the Vietnamese Party, Government, and people for always supporting and helping the Cambodian citizens in all circumstances.

He expressed his belief that, despite ending his term of office, Ambassador Minh will continue to contribute to strengthening traditional friendship ties and solidarity between both sides.

COVID-19 claims two more patients, 86 fatalities in total

Two more COVID-19 patients in Vietnam died of severe underlying health conditions and COVID-19 infection, bringing the national fatality count to 86, the Treatment Subcommittee under the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control said on July 4 morning.

The first death was an 81-year old Bac Ninh resident who had a 4-year history of hypertension, regular drug therapy, cerebrovascular accident and sequelae of memory impairment.

The female patient was admitted to Bac Ninh General Hospital with a diagnosis of severe pneumonia caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus in an old hypertensive and cerebrovascular accident patient after displaying symptoms as cough and shortness of breath.

Her condition had gradually deteriorated and she died on the early morning of July 2 with a diagnosis of septic shock, bacteremia, pneumonia caused by SARS-CoV-2, complications of progressive respiratory failure in a patient with hypertension, and old cerebrovascular accident.

The second fatality was a 64-year-old man from the northern province of Hung Yen who had a history of nasopharyngeal cancer detected since January 2021 and had received several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

He was diagnosed with COVID-19, and pneumonia caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a nasopharyngeal cancer patient.

The patient passed away on July 2 and diagnosis of his death was due to pneumonia caused by SARS-CoV-2, complications of bacteremia, septic shock in a nasopharyngeal cancer patient.

The latest deaths brought the nation’s COVID-19 death count to 86, with many of them suffering several comorbidities, and pneumonia caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Cambodian PM hosts outgoing Vietnamese Ambassador

Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen on July 3 hosted a reception for Vietnamese Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia Vu Quang Minh who came to bid adieu before ending his mission in Vietnam.

The Ambassador conveyed greetings from senior leaders of the Vietnamese Party, State, Government and National Assembly to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The Vietnamese diplomat congratulated the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) on its celebration of the 70th founding anniversary, while affirming that the Vietnamese Party, Government and People always bear in mind and thank the Cambodian people for their support and contributions to the past struggles of the Vietnamese people for national independence, liberation and reunification.

Minh hailed the major achievements in national development Cambodia has recorded in a wide range of fields, and expressed his thanks to the Cambodian PM for creating favorable conditions for the Vietnamese businesses and nationals to study and work in the host nation.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, in turn, noted his appreciation for Ambassador Vu Quang Minh's efforts to fulfill his diplomatic mission as a contribution to consolidating the ties of friendship and solidarity and cooperation across multiple areas for the two nations' mutual benefits.

Hun Sen also thanked the Party, Government and people of Vietnam for always giving great support to the just cause of the Cambodian people in all circumstances, and extended greetings and best wishes to Vietnamese senior leaders.

Also on July 3, several Cambodian newspapers covered the meeting between Prime Minister Hun Sen and Ambassador Vu Quang Minh, during which the Cambodian government leader underlined the need for the two countries to join hands in combating the coronavirus pandemic and boosting economic, trade and investment cooperation.

Vietnamese citizens affected by pandemic in Malaysia receive support

The Vietnamese Embassy in Malaysia on July 3 handed over 100 gift packages donated by the PetroVietnam Technical Service Joint Stock Corporation (PTSC) to Vietnamese people in Penang state who are facing tough challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Penang is located in the northwestern coast of Malaysia, about 350 km from Kuala Lumpur. It is one of the states hardest hit by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with over 35,000 COVID-19 infections were detected here. The state recorded hundreds of new cases every day in recent times.

Penang is also home to a large number of Vietnamese guest labourers working in the fields of textiles, construction and electronics, who are facing a lot of difficulties due to the lock-down order is being applied in the country to control the pandemic.

Vu Duc Minh, the 2nd Secretary in charge of the Vietnamese community in Malaysia, said this is just one of the embassy's activities to support Vietnamese citizens in the country.

The Vietnamese Embassy in Malaysia has been and will continue to accompany donors to share difficulties with Vietnamese people living and working in Malaysia, he said.

Press awards on AO disaster attract large number of entries

More than 500 entries have been sent to the first press awards on the Agent Orange (AO) disaster and the settlement of consequences of the toxic chemicals used by the US during the war in Vietnam.

The awards were launched by the Vietnam Association for Victims of AO (VAVA) in early 2020.

Entries were submitted by both professional and amateur writers such as reporters from press agencies, members of the armed forces, and overseas Vietnamese.

The eldest contestant is an 81-year-old man in Thanh Xuan district of Hanoi.

Eighty outstanding entries have been chosen for the final round, which will select three first-place prizes, five second-place prizes, 10 third-place prizes, 15 consolation prizes, and some supplementary ones.

The award presentation ceremony is scheduled to take place around the 60th Vietnam AO/Dioxin Disaster Day (August 10).

From 1961-1971, the US troops sprayed more than 80 million litres of herbicides - 44 million litres of which were AO containing nearly 370 kilograms of dioxin - over southern Vietnam.

As a result, around 4.8 million Vietnamese were exposed to the toxic chemical. Many of the victims have died, while millions of their descendants are living with deformities and diseases as a direct result of the chemical’s effects./.

Embassy takes measures to protect Vietnamese citizens in eSwatini

Vietnamese Ambassador to South Africa Hoang Van Loi said the Vietnamese Embassy in South Africa cum eSwatini has been closely monitoring the situation in eSwatini and actively undertaking measures to protect Vietnamese citizens in the country.

According to Loi, there are two Vietnamese citizens residing in eSwatini (formally known as Swaziland), one of who is in the capital Mbabane – an area where violent protest activities are taking place.

The ambassador had talked on the phone with the citizens in eSwatini to give them encouragement and instruct them on necessary measures to ensure their safety.
 
He affirmed that the embassy would roll out measures to protect citizens based on the actual situation of the area and of the citizens. The ambassador suggested that the two Vietnamese citizens in eSwatini regularly keep in touch with the embassy to receive the necessary support.

The two citizens are so far safe from the ongoing protest in the kingdom.

The protests in eSwatini began in May when students and teachers rallied against the killing of Thabani Nkomonye, a law student at the University of Eswatini after being arrested by police. The protests continued to spread to cities and rural towns with demands for political reform in the country. Peaceful protests turned violent with the military’s crackdown on June 29.

In addition, there was looting and destruction of property targeting Pick n Pay, Shoprite supermarket chains, some government agencies and ATMs..

Reports on casualties in the protests are varied, with the Southern African Development Community-SADC announcing at least one death but opposition groups reporting as many as 40 killed and more than 150 injured./.

Kien Giang invests efforts in conserving rare genetic resources

Kien Giang has reportedly gained encouraging outcomes in conserving rare animal and plant genetic resources to serve socio-economic development, a plan this Mekong Delta province implemented between 2014 and 2020.

As a result of the plan implementation, 83 potential and valuable genetic resources were identified, with 61 subject to conservation during the period, the provincial Department of Science and Technology said.

Most of the protected plant genetic resources belong to the species that are economically valuable and associated with local collective trademarks such as the Tac Cau pineapple, Bong Sung sweet potato, Ba Ho durian, Hoa Thuan mangosteen, Phu Quoc peppercorn, and Ha Tien peppercorn.

They also include herbal plants widely used in traditional medicine like “mat nhan” (Eurycoma Longifolia), “ha thu o” (Polygonum multiflorum Thunb), “kim that” (Gynura procumbens), and “thien nien kien” (Rhizoma Homalomenae occultae).

Meanwhile, the conservation of animal genetic resources has been focused on aquatic species with high economic value such as the cobia (Rachycentron canadum), seahorse, “ca chach lau” (Mastacembelus favus), and “ca that lat” (Notopterus notopterus).

Endemic species like “lan bau ruou” (Calanthe rubens Ridl) and the Phu Quoc spring catfish have also benefited from the conservation plan.

The local administration has approved some genetic resources like “bi ky nam” (Hydnophytum formicarum Jack), “ghe xanh” (Portunus armatus), mud clam (Geloina coaxans), and blood cockle (Anadara granosa) for researching and building commercial farming process.

Besides, the Ministry of Science and Technology approved the precious genetic resource of the Phu Quoc ridgeback for preservation, which was listed as a national-level task.

Conservation efforts have helped recover and save some genetic resources, thus maintaining and capitalising on the rare and valuable ones for agriculture, forestry, aquaculture, and medicine, the Kien Giang department noted.

It added that the successful conservation has proved useful for not only protecting biodiversity but also creating competitive products in the local market and for export./.

Thanh Hoa - sixth best performer in H1 public investment disbursement

The northern province of Thanh Hoa disbursed more than 5.13 trillion VND (222.92 million USD) in public investment in the first half of 2021, representing 54.4 percent of the yearly plan and a year-on-year increase of 9 percent, making it the country’s sixth best performer.

During the first six months of the year, the province’s Party Committee, People’s Council and People’s Committee have together taken various measures to speed up the public investment disbursement.

Capital disbursement plans have been assigned for 2021’s projects and programmes since the end of last year to help investors balance the financial needs of them and enable improved performances. Competent authorities have also cut 30 – 50 percent of time required for completing public administrative procedures during the pre-investment verification and appraisal process at the request of the chairman of the provincial People’s Committee.

The province has also set specific timelines for the investment disbursement of each type of project this year while investors must be committed to following the timelines. Periodic reviews have also been conducted to identify projects with slow investment disbursement so capital can be withdrawn from slow-moving projects and transferred to faster ones.

Additionally, every major, key projects must be kept under the supervision of one of provincial leaders. District-level People’s Committees must also pledge to ensure that progress of site clearance for each project is on schedule.

Thanks to such drastic efforts, 106 out of 125 investors of projects funded by public capital have fulfilled 50 percent and more of their disbursement plans. The best performers among them include the Department of Transport (56.5 percent), Department of Public Security (93.5 percent), People’s Committee of Nong Cong district (100 percent), and People’s Committee of Cam Thuy district (98.9 percent).

Keeping disbursement of public investment on schedule is of great importance to Thanh Hoa’s socio-economic development, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on the local economy, said Le Minh Nghia, Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Planning and Investment.

It will help create jobs for thousands of people, boost local economic growth and offset economic losses in pandemic-hit sectors, he said.

Nghia noted that the province reported a Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) growth of 8.66 percent in the first half of 2021, setting the scene for the accomplishment of public investment plans in the remaining months.

Thanh Hoa has been among ten cities and provinces receiving the highest public investment (over 10 trillion VND) for years. The province has also remained in the Top 10 performers in terms of investment disbursement.

Early this year, Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung called for faster progress of public investment disbursement, saying hastening the disbursement speed from the start of this year was an important solution to accelerate economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also requested that projects failing to meet planned progress should have their capital revoked.

According to the General Statistics Office, every increase by 1 percent in public investment disbursement would push GDP by 0.06 percentage points.

The disbursement rate of public investment capital in 2021 is expected to reach between 95-100 percent of the plan assigned by the Prime Minister, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

As planned, the disbursement of public investment will reach at least 60 percent of the plan by the end of the third quarter of the year.

Latest statistics released by the General Statistics Office (GSO) show that total social investment in the first six months of 2021 increased 7.2 percent year-on-year to 1,170 trillion VND.

Of the figure, over 295.2 trillion VND was sourced from the state sector, up 7.3 percent; 660.1 trillion VND came from the non-state sector, rising by 7.4 percent; and 214.4 trillion VND was from the foreign direct investment sector, up 6.7 percent./.

Lotuses show off their beauty in Da Nang

Lotus ponds in the central city of Da Nang are in full bloom, jubilantly showing off their pink color in the summer. The scenes will surely dazzle anyone passing.

Lotus ponds in the central city of Da Nang are in full bloom, jubilantly showing off their pink color.

Hong Bang University, Indian agency to train foreign students in medicine

The Hong Bang International University (HIU) has signed a strategic co-operation deal with India’s Aieraa Overseas Studies to train Indian and other Asian students in medicine starting in 2021-2022.

Aeiraa has experience in recruiting and sending Indians around the world to study, especially medicine.

Hong Bang will train the students entirely in English based on the standard national medical training programme with changes made to meet global standards.

Besides theoretical and clinical knowledge, the international students will also learn Vietnamese language and culture. They will be trained at large and prestigious hospitals in the university’s associated network to hone their skills.

The course will be for six years.

At the online signing ceremony, Do Manh Cuong, Chairman of the Hong Bang International University Council, told Aieraa: “Doctors and medical professionals who graduated from HIU are currently working in most hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City and the southern provinces of Vietnam. With adequate and modern facilities, along with a team of qualified, experienced and humane professors, we will not disappoint your trust in us.”

Deepa, Director of Aieraa Overseas Studies, said, “I hope not only Indian students, but more and more students from the region will come to HCM City to study, not only professionally but also participate in community activities and learn about its culture."/.

Bac Giang to increase tourism’s contribution to economy

The northern province of Bac Giang will bring its strengths into full play to make tourism a major economic contributor and welcome about 3-3.5 million tourist arrivals each year by 2025, according to Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Trong Bac.

The province plans to attract investment into local tourist sites with more diverse investment forms for investors. It will focus more on preserving and restoring traditional festivals and cultural activities as well as craft villages, while protecting and upgrading local relics as part of efforts to foster the industry’s sustainable development.

It will also look to boost culture and religion-based tourism and make the most of cultural heritages such as “Quan Ho” (love duets), “Ca Tru” (ceremonial singing), “Chau Van” (ritual singing), “Then” singing, and folk music from local ethnic minority groups, to boost tourism.

Bac Giang will develop infrastructure and enhance service quality at tourist and historic relic sites, offering more unique and appealing tourism products in various areas, from culture, religion, history, and culture to eco-tourism, leisure, and entertainment. It plans to ramp up tourism promotions and create tours linked with popular destinations in other cities and provinces.

The province is paying greater attention to developing and training a high-quality workforce and accelerating the use of technologies in the sector. It has built a smart tourism portal and a digital tourism map, and manages an online database of local lodging service providers.

Bac Giang has a long history and rich culture and is blessed with abundant natural resources.

It is home to Buddhist Sutra Woodblocks at Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, recognised as a world documentary heritage. The province, along with some other northern localities, is home to several UNESCO world intangible heritage practices, such as “Quan Ho”, “Ca Tru”, the Beliefs in the Mother Goddesses of Three Realms, and the Practices of Then by the Tay, Nung, and Thai ethnic minority groups.

The province is also the birthplace of Truc Lam Yen Tu Zen Buddhism. Scientists have found a connection between Vinh Nghiem Pagoda in Yen Dung district, which was built in the 11th century, and a series of ruined pagodas, temples, and towers in the west of the Yen Tu range. The mountain range is where King-Monk Tran Nhan Tong began studying Buddhism in 1293 after handing over his throne to his son.

There is also a connection between Bac Giang’s relics and those of the Tran Dynasty (1225-1400) in Dong Trieu, Quang Ninh province, and the Thanh Mai - Con Son - Kiep Bac historical and cultural site in Hai Duong province.

Bac Giang has a total of 2,237 historic and cultural sites, four of which have been named special national relics, 101 national relics, and 604 provincially-recognised relics. It is also home to three national treasures, 12 national intangible cultural heritages, and more than 700 traditional festivals.

Many of its sites and villages hold great potential for tourism development, such as Dong Cao in Son Dong district, Cam Son and Khuon Than Lakes in Luc Ngan district, and villages of ancient “Quan Ho” singing on the left bank of the Cau River. It is blessed with various specialty agricultural products, for example Luc Ngan’s “thieu” lychees, oranges, and pomelos, Yen The’s Ven village’s tea and hill chicken; and Tan Yen’s Nui Danh codonopsis javanica (a type of plant).

Over recent years, the province has invested heavily in developing infrastructure and restoring historic and cultural relics to boost tourism. Notable projects include the construction of the Yen Dung Golf Course and the Tay Yen Tu eco-tourism and religion complex, and the restoration of Xuong Giang Temple and Truc Lam Phuong Hoang Monastery.

The number of tourist arrivals to Bac Giang has grown by more than 20 percent annually over the last several years./.

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

VIETNAM NEWS HEADLINES JULY 4

VIETNAM NEWS HEADLINES JULY 4

Party General Secretary to attend CPC’s summit