Eleven cases of COVID-19 were reported during the past 12 hours to 6pm May 4, including one domestically-transmitted case, according to the Health Ministry.

Among the imported cases, three were Indian citizens and the remainder were Vietnamese.

The locally-transmitted case is a 25-year-old woman who had made contact with patient 2982.

The national count increased to 2,996, including 38 locally-transmitted cases since April 27.

Meanwhile, 2,560 patients have been given the all-clear, and the death toll remains at 35.

Among patients still under treatment, 24 have tested negative for the novel coronavirus, 12 twice and 38 thrice.

A total 40,505 people who had made contact with COVID-19 patients or arrived from pandemic-affected areas are being quarantined across the country./.

Da Nang to suspend receiving Vietnamese returnees from abroad

The Da Nang administration has asked for the Prime Minister’s permission to temporarily suspend receiving flights that repatriate Vietnamese citizens left stranded overseas due to COVID-19.

In a report to the Government Office, the Da Nang administration notes the central city has since the beginning of this year received 11,800 returnees, including more than 8,000 cases in April alone.

Among them, 72 people have been confirmed as COVID-19 patients, including 61 in the past month.

An increasing number of coronavirus infections has put growing pressure on Da Nang Lung Diseases Hospital that is tasked with receiving and treating COVI-19 patients, says the report.

In addition, relevant forces whose duty is to monitor health quarantine and pandemic control have been overloaded with work, it further explains.  

For these reasons, the municipal administration expects the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Transport will allow the city to suspend incoming repatriation flights that carry Vietnamese citizens from overseas, in an effort to facilitate COVID-19 control and treatment.

Bamboo Airways cancels flights after a bird strike

Budget air carrier Bamboo Airways has decided to cancel a number of domestic flights after its aircraft collided with birds on May 3.

The incident happened when QH1063 aircraft en route from Da Nang city to Con Dao island was landing at Con Dao airport.

It prompted Bamboo Airways to stop using the aircraft for coming flights to fix its technical errors.

The aircraft is scheduled to fly between Con Dao and Can Tho, Da Nang and Con Dao, Hanoi and Rach Gia, Thanh Hoa and Con Dao, Con Dao and Hai Phong, and Hai Phong and Da Nang.

The incident also affects a number of flights linking Con Dao and Can Tho, Can Tho and Hanoi, and Can Tho and Thanh Hoa.

Currently, Bamboo Airways is operating six flights connecting Con Dao with ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Vinh, Hai Phong, Da Nang and Can Tho.

Bamboo Airways, an affiliate of FLC Group, Vietnam’s multi-industrial conglomerate, is prepared for an initial public offering (IPO) in the United States.

Citizens on Truong Sa islands ready for election day

The election of deputies to the 15th National Assembly and members of all level People’s Councils is a major political event in Vietnam, attracting the attention of all citizens, including those in remote areas. Join us to see how the soldiers and people in the island district of Truong Sa have been preparing for the election.  

The islands in Truong Sa district are decorated with banners and posters about the upcoming election day on May 23. Local residents and soldiers are now able to study candidates’ information and the voting rules at various public venues.

Despite insufficient facilities, all preparatory works on the islands are now basically completed.

As Truong Sa island district is far from the mainland, voters will cast their votes earlier than people elsewhere. Communications campaigns have been continually broadcast on the radio so that fishermen can also stay abreast of election matters. If they are fishing at sea on election day, they are able to cast a vote on any island within Truong Sa island district.

After seeing that all preparatory works have been basically completed, voters in Truong Sa island district are feeling excited about electing suitable candidates who will convey their will and aspirations to legislative bodies at all levels./.

Viet Nam sends 35 doctors, experts to help Laos fight COVID-19

A team of 35 doctors and experts are set to leave for Laos on May 4 to help the neighboring country fight COVID-19.

This is part of Viet Nam’s commitments during the online meeting between Vietnamese Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long and his Lao counterpart Bounfeng Phoummalaysith last week.

The team will be responsible for assisting Laos in diagnosis, treatment, and building of field hospitals.

During the meeting, Minister Nguyen also announced Viet Nam’s decision to donate 200 ventilators, two million masks, 10 tons of ChlorominB, and other supplies to Laos.

Nguyen took that occasion to share Viet Nam’s experience in containing the pandemic, including establishment of field hospitals, treatment of seriously ill patients, remote medical consultation, and expansion of diagnosis capacity, among others./.

Provinces tighten border controls mid rising Covid-19 threats

As countries in the region hit by the pandemic, Southwestern provinces have strictly tightens controls at border crossings. 

On May 1, border guards of the Vinh Xuong border crossing between Vietnam and Cambodia in Tan Chau Town in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang detected three cases of illegal entry into the country. Illegal immigrants are 28 Vietnamese Cambodian people of six families. They were found in the Vinh Xuong Commune’s Hamlet 5 while illegally crossing the Vietnam-Cambodia border by riding 14 boats on the Tien River.

On April 30, border soliders at Vinh Xuong Border Gate previously caught seven undocumented immigrants entering Vietnam from Cambodia.

Commander of the Military High Command of Kien Giang Province, colonel Dam Kien Thuc said that the province scatterd 2,000 soldiers and officials to carry out surveillances along borders to protect 56 kilomters of land and 1,500 square meters of sea area.

Provinces shares border lines with Laos, including Thua Thien-Hue, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An and Ha Tinh have also established land and maritime checkpoints, mobile teams; station additional soldiers in border stations; intensify patrolling along borders to prevent illegal entry.

Traffic accidents down during holiday

There were 111 traffic accidents during four-day holiday from April 30 – May 3, killing 58 and injuring 64, reported the Railway and Road Traffic Police Department.

Compared to the same period last year, the number of accidents, deaths and injured was down 22, 21 and 12, respectively.

Of the figure, 109 cases were on roads, leaving 56 dead and 64 injured. There was one accident killing one person in railway and another leaving one dead in waterway.

The traffic police nationwide discovered 32,621 violation cases, collected nearly 32 billion VND (1.39 million USD) in fines, and revoked 2,320 driving licenses.

They also prevented illegal motorbike racing in several southern localities, ensuring travelling safety during the holiday./.

Art students reveal their subtle moves

A group show by students who majored in the silk painting faculty of the Việt Nam Fine Arts University has opened at Manzi Exhibition Space.

Curated by artist Nguyễn Thế Sơn, who is also their lecturer and instructor, the show features nearly 30 silk works, which are all composition assignments of art students in their final year of bachelor’s studies.

Entitled The Subtle Moves, the show introduces the promising representatives of a new artist generation as well as offers the artists motivation at a significant time in their lives.

According to curator Sơn, silk is inherently fragile and sometimes fairly elusive, so it is not the first choice of material for many art students.

“As a lecturer and instructor, who had a chance to observe and accompany students in a process of striving to improve/make certain ‘moves’ through each composition module, I understand that every attempt, no matter how trivial the ‘move’ was, was a real struggle.

“For me, such kind of struggle is very valuable, the moves resulting from this process, including both the enhancement of technique/skill and the shifts in thinking and reflection, not only are crucial for the personal growth of every creative individual but also should be the fundamental philosophy of the training system,” Sơn said.

The Subtle Moves will open until May 16, from 10am-7pm, Tuesday to Sunday, at Manzi Exhibition Space, 2 Ngõ Hàng Bún Alley, Ba Đình District. Free entrance. 

Death in toddler with viral meningitis reported in Vietnam

One toddler in the Mekong Delta Province of Ben Tre died of viral meningitis, an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Worse, the country has recorded 150 cases of meningitis from the beginning of the year.

According to the data from the Ministry of health to the government office, in April alone, Vietnam has recorded 64 viral meningitis cases including one death in Ben Tre Province.

The southern region has recorded eight cases of meningococcal meningitis with one death in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 8. The country has seen a surge of meningococcal meningitis by 200 percent year-on-year.
There has been change in seasonal patterns from dry to wet season in the southern region; therefore, resulting in a spike in number of encephalitis and meningitis cases.

Physicians of the City Children Hospital’s Department of Infectious Disease said that in the middle of April, the department admitted ten cases of viral meningitis and encephalitis. Presently, medical workers are being treating 20 cases.

Deputy Director of the City Children Hospital Nguyen Tran Nam warned that Japanese encephalitis can occur all year round, with a peak in the summer. The hospital has received one cases of Japanese encephalitis and one viral herpes encephalitis. There is no specific treatment for viral meningitis whereas the case-fatality rate among those with encephalitis can be as high as 30 percent

Encephalitis and meningitis are on the upward trend in the Mekong Delta region.

Associate Professor Cao Huu Nghia from Pasteur Institute in HCMC shared the peak of encephalitis and meningitis are from April to August. Averagely, 100 people are infected with the fatal disease and half of them died of it within 24 hours without timely treatment. Worse, 8-15 percent of patients with encephalitis died because of severe complications though they receive timely treatment.

According to Dr. Nghia, meningococcal meningitis is considered as "death disease" because about 5-20 percent of the population in Vietnam carry meningococcal bacteria in their nose and throat without becoming sick. Meningococcal bacteria are very common and live naturally in the nose and throat. The bacteria are present in saliva and can be spread through close contact with the saliva of a carrier.

Meningococcal disease can be difficult to diagnose because initial symptoms are usually similar to a bad cold or flu. The illness may develop slowly over a couple of days or may worsen rapidly over a few hours. Symptoms do not appear in any particular order and some may not occur at all.

Symptoms that may occur in adults and children include high temperature (fever) – possibly with cold hands and feet, headache, neck stiffness, sensitivity to bright lights, vomiting and sometimes diarrhoea, drowsiness and seizures (convulsions).

Medical workers advised parents to take their children to clinics for vaccination to prevent the dangerous disease. Additionally, people should keep their personal hygiene.

Ministry implements project to improve students’ awareness of startup

The Ministry of Education and Training has just issued a plan to implement the project "Support for students by 2025 “ which aims to improve students’ awareness of entrepreneurial startup.

Moreover, the Ministry’s project will help students to proactively access to the supporting system inside and outside their schools.

The project guides educational and training institutions to organize models to support student business ideas and startup opportunities as well as select typical startup models for publicizing.

Additionally, the Ministry directed schools and departments of Education and Training to build a startup environment so that students can experience their startup projects. Last but not least, schools and departments of education should facilitate students’ startup projects by connecting students and businesses.

The Ministry’s plan includes organizing the fourth contest “Students with startup ideas" in which successful startup projects of students at the 4th National Startup Festival at Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education by the end of 2021 will be praised.

The project will also organize training courses on business startup in basic business administration, specializing in implementing the Law on Small and Medium Enterprises Support for students and start-up students.

Moreover, it will coordinate with organizations and businesses to hold conferences and seminars to connect university students with their peers in international universities. More importantly, the project will help high school students to participate in international startup competitions.

The Ministry of Education and Training also coordinates with the Ministry of Planning and Investment and training institutions to complete start-up support centers to help students in the country's three regions.

Trends, challenges to digital transformation in publishing industry

The need for digital transformation in the publishing industry is highlighted by a paradox that people are consuming more content than ever, but traditional publishing houses are seeing their business dwindling as people’s reading habits have changed. They have gradually moved from print to digital devices to consume the content they want in the most readily available format.

Recently, Director of the Authority of Publication, Printing and Distribution under the Ministry of Information and Communication Nguyen Nguyen has released some startling number that 30 percent of Vietnamese people read books regularly, 26 percent do not read books, 44 percent only read books occasionally.

However, up to 70 percent of Vietnamese people use the Internet. This towering number of people surfing the internet shows an irreversible trend of the urgent digital transformation.

Digital transformation also allows publishers to repurpose material by chunking it into modules, depending on the rights and licensing agreements. Additionally, metadata can help publishers optimize search capabilities so that it is easier to discover and use the content.

First printed in 2012, so far the book A hundred years of finite of Phuong Nam Book and Publisher Association of Writers by author Pham Lu An, a joint pseudonym of writers Pham Cong Luan and Dang Nguyen Dong Vy has been reprinted 30 times, with 300,000 copies.

Although the book has been well-received and it has gone straight to be one of the books on the best-seller list, the two authors have lately decided to empower Fonos, a copyrighted audiobook app that has just been on the market for nearly a year now, to add a new format to the work. In the coming time, some other works such as Lost in the world, Ways of childhood, Find me in the field of the two writers will also be transformed into audiobooks by Fonos.

Author Dang Nguyen Dong Vy shared that with the development of technology, readers have different habits of reading. Publishers ought to bring information, content and knowledge to readers; therefore, they need to take advantage of digital technologies to satisfy readers’ needs. Now, the book A hundred years of finite was published under three forms including paper book, Ebook (electronic book) and Audiobook. These three versions serve different needs of readers.

According to those working in the publishing industry, digital transformation is irreversible. As a matter of fact, readers no longer only read and absorb knowledge through paper books but they also enjoy e-book, Audiobook, Clipbook, and podcasts. After nearly 2 years of launch, the audiobook application Voiz FM has currently had more than 300,000 users with 2,000 books. Moreover, users of the application Voiz FM have paid for more than 15 million minutes or averagely they pay about 2-3 million minutes per month.

In addition to audiobooks, WeWe Company, which owns the Voiz FM audiobook application, also has a Podcast, which can be considered as an audiobook format and a useful channel for book introduction.
Le Hoang Thach, CEO of WeWe shared that at first many people said that Vietnamese people will not pay for listening to books after hearing about the copyrighted audiobook plan. However, after two years, the money the company received from the audience has encouraged the company staff.

After nearly 10 years participating in the Ebook market, the Ho Chi Minh City General Publishing House has produced 3,000 books. Established in 2014, Waka Company has presently more than 3.2 million users and more than 13,000 e-books in the fields of business, skills, literature, science-technology, culture - society, for children. This company also constantly updates and supplements the best-seller books on the market of publishers, publishing companies, domestic and foreign authors.

According to Bui Xuan Duc, Director of the Library of General Science of Ho Chi Minh City, digital transformation is an inevitable trend now, especially when the development of Covid-19 is complicated which the government has imposed social distancing. The library has been digitizing rare and unique documents to serve users on different levels. The number of publications that we have digitized is about 10,000 copies excluding newspapers and magazines. Furthermore, some books are on the library’s website so that readers can read books at home.

Nguyen Thi Diem Phuong, Head of Sachweb Department of HCMC General Publishing House, said that the publishing house has produced 3,000 electronic books in ten years. The Ebook manufacturing process is extremely time- consuming whereas the price is cheap. Worse, she added that piracy has restricted the market of units making copyrighted e-books.

In addition, one inconvenience of the Ebook type is that there is not yet a shared app to serve the needs of readers to read e-books. Currently, each unit has its app, if readers want to read books of any unit, they must download these apps to their phones or tablets.

Diem Phuong admitted she has to download the apps of other publishing houses if she wants to read books. Accordingly, she has high expectations on the policy of digital transformation that management agency on the technology platform investment will create a common playground for all publishing houses to make e-books. There should be a platform, like an ecosystem where publishers and publishing houses put their e-books on it, readers just download a general app to read all books.

Meanwhile, Director of Omega Plus Book Company Vu Trong Dai said in order to quickly respond to the needs of today's users, it is necessary to be more open to electronic publishing activities.

Director Dai said that previously, Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung introduced the program" Make in Vietnam” to encourage businesses, technology organizations and non-technology organizations to invest more in Vietnamese own products in this field.

According to Mr. Dai, the Minister's call includes technology in the publishing sector. To have a breakthrough in publishing technology, state management agencies’ support in the publishing-media field is needed especially for fledgling start-ups.

The Authority of Publication, Printing and Distribution’s data also shows that there has been a positive change in the type of Ebook. Specifically, 213 electronic publications registered in 2018 and 2,050 publications were released with 1.5 million hits in 2020. The number of publishers goes up from five in 2019 to nine now.

Ca Mau Province’s local foods rank among top 100 Vietnamese specialties, gifts

Salted Fish Hotpot and U Minh Forest Honey of the rural district of U Minh in the southernmost coastal province of Ca Mau have been recognized as one of the Top 100 Vietnamese specialties and Top 100 Vietnamese gift specialties respectively by the Vietnam Record Association (VietKings).

The province is well-known for dish of fermented fish hot pot with wild vegetables and wild honey taken from U Minh mangrove forest which is the most famous destination in Ca Mau.

On this occasion, the Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism of Ca Mau Province organized a cooking competition promoting the local dish of fermented fish.

In February, Nam Can Sea Crab was also named among Top 100 Vietnamese specialties while Ca Mau Dried Shrimp was previously recognized as one of the Top 100 Vietnamese gift specialties.

U Minh mangrove forest covers an area of about 2,000 square kilometer in the provinces of Kien Giang and Ca Mau. U Minh forest is considered to be the biosphere with the highest biomass value compared to other forest types with about 250 species of plants, over 180 species of birds, and more than 20 reptiles. The Trem and Cai Tau rivers divide U Minh forest into two parts which are U Minh Thuong (Upper U Minh) and U Minh Ha (Lower U Minh). In 2002, an area of 80 sq km was preserved as U Minh Thuong (Upper U-Minh) National Park.

Vietnamese Ambassador attends inaugural ceremony of INDOPACOM Commander

Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Ha Kim Ngoc attended a ceremony of Admiral John Aquilino to assume the postision as commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) in Honolulu, Hawaii last weekend.

On the occasion, Ambassador Ngoc paid courtesy calls to US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, talked with former INDOPACOM Commander Admiral Philip Davison, and INDOPACOM Commander Admiral John Aquilino, and held a working session with INDOPACOM representatives.

Both sides expressed their delight at the strong progress of bilateral comprehensive partnership in various areas, including in national defence, security, contributing to maintaining peace, security, stability and cooperation in the region.

Ngoc lauded the outcomes of joint work in addressing post-war consequences such as Agent Orange detoxification, bomb and mine clearance, and providing assistance for war victims.

The US side thanked the Vietnamese Government and people for effectively helping and cooperating in seeking Americans missing in action during the war, and was satisfied about partnership with Vietnam to improve maritime capacity, search and rescue, response to disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic. The US said opportunities to boost defence ties remain plentiful.

On regional and global issues, the US side congratulated Vietnam on accomplishing the role of ASEAN Chair 2020, thus continuing to affirm the bloc’s central role and its solidarity, as well as ASEAN-US strategic partnership.

Ngoc also thanked the US for supporting Vietnam in joining the United Nations peacekeeping missions.

The US side affirmed that President Joe Biden’s administration will continue with the free and open Indo-Pacific strategy, considering the Indo-Pacific region a top priority in the national security strategy. The US vowed to ensure rules-based maritime and aviation freedom and order, attach importance to working with regional allies and partners to maintain peace, security, stability and respect international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and settle disputes peacefully amid complicated developments in the region.

The US will keep partnering with regional nations to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring supplying and distributing vaccines and building a stable supply chain.

An INDOPACOM representative also hoped that the Shangri-La Dialogue will be held with the participation of partner countries.

Secretary of Defence Austin also expressed his wish to visit Vietnam in the near future./.

No COVID-19 cases recorded on May 3 morning

Vietnam has no new cases of COVID-19 to report in the past 12 hours to 6am of May 3, keeping the national count at 2,962, according to the Health Ministry.

A total of 39,870 people who had close contact with COVID-19 patients or arrived from pandemic-hit areas are being quarantined nationwide.

As many as 2,549 patients have been given the all-clear, and the death toll remains at 35.

Among the patients under treatment, 19 have tested negative for the coronavirus once, 19 twice and 34 thrice.

An additional 6,143 people received shots of COVID-19 vaccine on May 2, raising the total number of vaccinated people to 532, 247, most of whom work at the frontline in the pandemic fight.

After locally-infected cases were detected in late April, localities around the country are tightening epidemic prevention measures.

The Health Ministry urges all people to strictly follow the 5K motto: Khau trang (wearing facemask) – Khu khuan (disinfecting) – Khoang cach (keeping distance) – Khong tap trung (no gathering) – Khai bao y te (making health declaration), so as to contain the pandemic./.

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Personal, collective resonsibility on COVID-19 spread must be made clear: PM

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has requested that the responsibility of individuals and organisations on COVID-19 spread must be made clear, and asked competent authorities to mete strict punishment to any that violate regulations and have a role to play in the failure of the containment.

At a working session with the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control on May 2, Chinh asked the committee to review the pandemic prevention work in the past time, with focus sharpened on analysing responsibilities of organisations, localities, and individuals.

The session was held in the context that the pandemic has become more complicated in the country recently since more people have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 after coming into close contact with a patient in the northern province of Ha Nam.

As Ba Ria – Vung Tau province, Khanh Hoa province and Da Nang city have failed to follow the Ministry of Health’s prevention instruction in recent days, local authorities must work to clarify personal responsibility, he stressed.

Harsh punishment, even criminal liability, must be imposed to any violations of existing regulations, he said.

COVID-19 patients should receive timely treatment; however, he said, anyone who does not obey quarantine rule leading to the spread of COVID-19 will be penalised.

PM Chinh ordered sectors and localities to carry out COVID-19 prevention directions of the Party Permanent Secretariat, the State President, the Government and the Prime Minister, and most recently President Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s direction which requires localities nationwide to kick off preventive measures to zone off and stamp out the outbreak.

He ordered localities to enhance testing capacity as well as tighten discipline at concentrated quarantine sites, medical stations, and immigration areas.

Additionally, the Ministry of Health must speed up COVID-19 vaccination, and work to approach more quality vaccine sources, he added./.

Ministry urges localities to halt unnecessary services amidst COVID-19 risk

Local authorities should consider ordering the suspension of unnecessary services like bars, karaoke parlors, discos and game rooms to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health said on April 2.

In a document sent to municipal and provincial People’s Committees on the day, the ministry said Vietnam has recorded domestically-transmitted COVID-19 cases in certain localities over the past days, and the coronavirus would further spread.

However, many cities and provinces have still turned lax amid the new infections, the ministry said, citing big gatherings in public places like beaches and tourist sites without serious observance of COVID-19 prevention and control measures.

Given this, the ministry asked localities not to organise unnecessary activities with mass gatherings such as festivals and night markets, and seriously implement preventive measures, especially wearing masks at public places.

COVID-19 has become complicated in recent days as more people have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 after coming into close contact with a patient in the northern province of Ha Nam.

The 28-year-old man tested positive for the virus after he finished 14 days of mandatory quarantine. He had returned Vietnam from Japan via Da Nang International Airport on April 7. He was quarantined for 14 days in Da Nang and tested negative for coronavirus three times before completing the quarantine period./.

Hanoi requires returnees to make health declaration after public holiday

People returning to Hanoi are subject to compulsory medical declaration after the four-day public holidays lasting from April 30 to May 3, according to a document on COVID-19 prevention and control work issued on May 2 by the Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee.

A large number of people in Hanoi travelled to other localities during the holidays, posing high risks of spreading the viral disease in the community.

Anyone who shows signs of coughing, fever, shortness of breath, or other suspected symptoms of COVID-19 should go to the nearest medical facilities for timely instruction.

Meanwhile, heads of organisations and agencies in the city must be responsible for medical declaration of their staff, and local authorities for that of the residents.

The municipal police are assigned to direct their lower units to make a list of returnees after holidays, popularise COVID-19 prevention measures, and give strict punishment to any violations.

COVID-19 has become complicated in recent days as more people have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 after coming into close contact with a patient in the northern province of Ha Nam.
The 28-year-old man tested positive for the virus after he finished 14 days of mandatory quarantine. He had returned Vietnam from Japan via Da Nang International Airport on April 7. He was quarantined for 14 days in Da Nang and tested negative for coronavirus three times before completing the quarantine period./.

German news agency spotlights most attractive tourist sites in Vietnam

German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) has recently run an article featuring the 11 most attractive tourist destinations in Vietnam.

The article highlights Vietnam’s attractiveness with a long coastline, rocky cliffs, terraced fields, and bustling cities in contrary to idyllic villages.

The list of the sites includes the popular holiday town of Sa Pa in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai, the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang, and Hanoi capital city.

Other sites named in the list are UNESCO-recognised Ha Long Bay in northern Quang Ninh province, Cat Ba island in northern Hai Phong city, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in central Quang Binh province, Hue ancient capital city, UNESCO-recognised Hoi An ancient town in central Quang Nam province, Da Lat city in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, Ho Chi Minh City, and the Mekong Delta region.

Apart from the list, the article also provided information on the environment and climate, and travel tips for those who plan to visit the Southeast Asian nation.

Vietnam welcomed only 3.8 million foreign arrivals in 2020, down 78.7 percent from the previous year as a result of the serious impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism industry, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

The government has closed national borders and canceled all international flights since March 25 with only Vietnamese repatriates, foreign experts and highly-skilled workers allowed in with stringent conditions./.

COVID-19 complicated in Southeast Asian nations

Laos on March 3 added 33 new COVID-19 cases in six out of 18 cities and provinces in the past 24 hours, marking a three-fold decrease from a day earlier, reported its Health Ministry.

All 18 Lao cities and provinces remain in lockdown till May 5. The authorities are discussing whether the lockdown should be extended.

The country has so far recorded 966 infection cases, more than 900 of which were detected found from early April, mostly locally-transmitted. Sixty patients have recovered and there has been not any death related to the disease.

The same day, the Khmer Times quoted the Cambodian Health Ministry as saying that there were 841 more infections, all were locally-transmitted cases, higher than 730 cases recorded on previous day. Such has brought the national count to 15,361.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said over 1.3 million Cambodians have to date been vaccinated.


Also on May 3, Thailand logged additional 31 deaths caused by coronavirus, a record since its outbreak.

Its Health Ministry confirmed 2,041 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 71,025. The fatalities stood at 276.

The Southeast Asian nation targeted that 70 percent of its population will be vaccinated later this year.

In Indonesia, its Government has decided to extend the imposition of micro-scale public activity restrictions (PPKM) till May 17, and enforce it in 30 out of 34 cities and provinces nationwide./.

Laos receives medical supplies from Vietnamese Defence Ministry

A ceremony to hand over medical supplies to the Lao Defence Ministry and welcome medical experts from the Vietnamese Defence Ministry was held at Cau Treo – Nam Phao international border gate on May 3.

Maj. Gen. Nguyen Hung Thang from the Vietnamese Defence Ministry presented a batch of medical supplies to Lieut. Gen. Khamphet Sinanone, including 105,000 masks, 500kg of CloraminB, 5,000 sets of protective suits, 1,000 bottles of sanitisers, 1,000 sets of quick test kits, 1,000 hand-held  thermometers worth 3 billion VND (130,400 USD).

Besides, the Vietnamese Defence Ministry sent four medical experts to Laos on this occasion.

Speaking at the event, Thang said with the practical support, Vietnam hoped that Laos could wipe out the pandemic in the near future.

Khamphet Sinanone hailed the move as vivid evidence of great friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between the two fraternal nations.

He pledged to improve the capacity of medical staff in army hospitals and effectively use medical equipment provided by the Vietnamese side./.

Đà Nẵng reports one community transmitted COVID-19 case

Đà Nẵng City confirmed one community COVID-19 patient on Monday evening, a spa ticket salesman at a hotel in Hải Châu District.

The 28-year-old man, who comes from the neighbouring Quảng Nam Province’s Hội An Town, started to work at the hotel on April 28. He often worked night shifts from 7pm to 4am.

He started to have a fever on Sunday and went to Hoàn Mỹ Hospital in Đà Nẵng for a health check-up. He tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus on Monday and is being treated at the Lung Hospital of Đà Nẵng.

He visited various places in Hội An and Đà Nẵng before being tested.

Hoàn Mỹ Hospital has been locked down.

On Monday evening, the People’s Committee of Đà Nẵng proposed Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính and relevant ministries allow Đà Nẵng to temporarily stop receiving flights repatriating Vietnamese nationals from abroad. 

Vĩnh Phúc doctor tests positive once for COVID-19, entire hospital locked down

A doctor working at Phúc Yên General Hospital in Vĩnh Phúc Province has tested positive for COVID-19 once.

The doctor's samples were sent to the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology for confirmation. The doctor has been quarantined at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Đông Anh District, Hà Nội.

Phúc Yên General Hospital on Sunday night took the samples of 1,457 people including staff members and patients and their relatives for testing. Additional tests were taken on Monday morning.

Also on Monday morning, Vĩnh Phúc Provincial Party Committee held a meeting about deploying measures to tackle COVID-19.

Hoàng Thị Thúy Loan, Secretary of the provincial Party Committee, requested the People’s Committee and the provincial steering committee for COVID-19 strictly follow the directions of the Government and provincial authority on prevention and control work.

The province will expand quarantine areas and arrange at least 2,000 extra hospital beds in the province. Vĩnh Yên and Phúc Yên cities will have at least 300 hospital beds and 10-15 testing machines, ensuring adequate masks, disinfection, temperature measurement and sufficient funding for pandemic control.

Attention will be paid to tracing high-risk groups in locations where positive cases have been found, people leaving the province or those working in factories and enterprises where there have been positive cases.

The province will take tough measures right away in key areas, organise training and allocate sufficient funds for members of pandemic control groups in the neighbourhoods.

Earlier, the provincial Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention decided to lock down Phúc Yên General Hospital from May 3 to May 16.

Provincial police will work with the Department of Health, Phúc Yên City People's Committee and other agencies and units to ensure security and order as well as other tasks in disease prevention.

In related news, the provincial People’s Committee has requested the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control and the Ministry of Health dispatch a working group to the province to ensure safety in pandemic prevention and control work in the area.

On April 9, five Chinese experts entered Việt Nam. Upon arrival, they were quarantined at Như Nguyệt Hotel in Yên Bái Province. On April 23, they completed the quarantine period and visited Sunny Club in Phúc Yên. The following days, they visited several other places in the province.

One of the experts tested positive when he returned to China on April 30. One more man tested positive for the virus the following day.

As of Monday morning, the Military Command of Vĩnh Phúc Province had quarantined 309 citizens in the province. Most of them are related to the Sunny Club and Hoa Sen Massage Spa in Phúc Yên and Vĩnh Yên cities.

An additional eight COVID-19 community patients were recorded on Monday in Vĩnh Phúc Province. Five patients numbered from No 2,972 to No 2,976 are female staff at a healthcare centre in Vĩnh Yên City. They all had close contact with the Chinese experts.  

The three other COVID-19 patients in the province were related to the Sunny Club in Phúc Yên Town.

Developments elsewhere

Hà Nội authorities have decided to temporarily close all schools in the city from pre-school to highschool from tomorrow to prevent the spread of the pandemic and encourage online teaching. 

Amid the increasing complexity of the COVID-19 pandemic, the provinces of Cần Thơ, An Giang, Long An and Yên Bái have also decided to stop all entertainment activities, close schools and strictly punish violations of COVID-19 rules.

On Monday, agencies in Cần Thơ City dished out 18 fines for not wearing masks in public with the punishment ranging from VND1-3 million.

Yên Bái Province People’s Committee has also closed schools in Nghĩa Lộ Township, Văn Chấn and Trấn Yên districts from May 3 to May 9.

The northern province of Hà Nam on Monday reported two new community COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of infections in the locality to 14. Both of the new patients are residents of Thọ Lão Village, Đạo Lý Commune, Lý Nhân District.

In Quảng Ninh Province, 122 tourists and 60 crew of the Ambassador cruise ship were ordeted to remain onboard Monday because one crew member working in the ship’s kitchen has been classified as F1 in connection with a COVID-19 patient in Hà Nam Province.

The Ambassador Cruise ship of Hạ Long Pacific Co. Ltd had been scheduled to dock at Tuần Châu port at noon on Monday after taking the tourists to stay overnight on Hạ Long Bay since Sunday noon.

A ship employee is reported to have returned to Hà Nam and had close contact with the owner of a gaming shop in the province, making him F1 and necessitating the quarantine of the ship. 

Poor harvest, falling prices: double whammy for cashew farmers

Cashew farmers in the country are facing a poor harvest due to bad weather and low prices because of low international demand.

In the south-eastern province of Bình Phước, the country’s largest producer of the nut, yields are down significantly after heavy rains during the flowering period in February affected fruiting.

Nguyễn Thị Min of Bù Đăng District’s Đắk Nhau Commune said two unseasonable spells of rain followed by prolonged hot weather when her cashew trees were blooming caused most flowers to dry and fall off.

Her harvest was insignificant this year, she said.

Bù Đăng District accounts for a third of the province’s cashew growing area at nearly 59,000ha. 

Nguyễn Huy Long, head of the district Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the yield was expected to be low this year at just 1.1 tonnes per hectare.

In the Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) province of Gia Lai, cashew is a key crop in border districts like Đức Cơ and Ia Grai and provides a reliable income for farmers, especially ethnic.

But this year there too the harvest has been poor because of the weather and diseases.

According to Phan Đình Thắm, head of the Ia Grai Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development, the cashew yield depends largely on the weather, especially at the time of flowering.

Due to the unseasonable rains the yield is expected to be 20-30 per cent down from last year.

Ia Grai has 5,700ha under cashew and plans to maintain this area in the coming years.

In the southern province of Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu, farmers have harvested this year’s cashew later than normal and the yield is 30-50 per cent down because of hoar frost, cold weather and infestation by mosquito bugs, according to local farmers.

Besides, farmers are also facing low prices since traders have reduced buying because of off-season rains, which means they cannot dry the nuts and their quality will decline.

Traders in Bình Phước have been buying fresh cashew at a price of VNĐ28,000 (US$1.2) per kilogramme, down VNĐ10,000 from last year.

Besides, cashew processors have also reduced purchases because of a fall in export demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Improving income

To improve farmers’ incomes, authorities in cashew growing provinces have instructed them to adopt intensive growing methods to improve yields and grow new high-quality varieties.

They have also strengthened support policies to help farmers replace unproductive plants.

The Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is working with the Southeastern Fruit Research Institute to create new strains to supply farmers.

It has organised training for farmers in disease management and advanced farming techniques.

Trần Xuân Khải, deputy head of the Gia Lai Sub-department of Plant Protection and Cultivation, said his agency had reviewed unproductive cashew areas and plans to switch to other suitable crops like fruits and medicinal plants there in consultation with farmers.

It would instruct farmers to grow 9,000-10,000ha of cashew using intensive methods.

Bình Phước Province has support policies to enable farmers to increase yields and set up co-operatives that link up with processors to produce high-quality cashew for exports.

It also helps processors build brand names, get soft loans and tie up with farmers to set up clean cashew growing areas.

Two Hanoi students prosecuted for shielding illegal migrants

Hanoi police have prosecuted two local students for renting rooms to Chinese people who illegally entered Vietnam.

The two students are Tran Thi Phuong Thao and Dinh Thi Hue who are both 21 years old and from the northern province of Phu Tho.  

Thao said that through Facebook, she got to know two Chinese people. One of them was Ou Guo Pei. Thao studies Chinese at a Hanoi university.

The two asked Thao to help rent some houses for Chinese illegal migrants. Shen then told her friend Hue to join the business.

Thao hired a house and two apartments in Thanh Xuan District for five Chinese. Meanwhile, Hue also hired two apartments in the same district for 11 other Chinese people.

Thao was paid VND140 million (USD6,086) and Hue received VND4 million (USD173.91) as commission.

After being raided by Hanoi police on April 20, one of the Chinese people staying at facilities hired by Thao had fled.

Sixteen of 17 Chinese illegal migrants in the ring have been sent to a local quarantine site.

The police have also prosecuted Ou Guo Pei.

Anti-epidemic work needs to be specific, practical and responsible

Over the past few days, the COVID-19 epidemic situation in the country has witnessed complicated developments. Risk factors came from both outside (status of people entering illegally from epidemic countries) and inside (management and isolation in some places did not comply with regulations).

Warnings about a fourth and subsequent outbreaks, more intense than the previous ones, have become a reality. Epidemic prevention and control in many localities also revealed a number of loopholes, requiring authorities at all levels to step in with specific and practical action.

At a meeting on April 30, the Prime Minister asked the whole political system, on the basis of their functions, duties and powers, especially the heads of party committees, administrations, the Fatherland Front at all levels and other socio-political organisations to take drastic actions to prevent and fight the epidemic.

However, there are still many localities that are not acting in an urgent way, even some localities allowinggatherings in public areas such as beaches, amusement parks, tourism sites, etc. without strictly implementing anti-epidemic measures under the guidance of the Ministry of Health (MoH). If COVID-19 infections occur at those events, they can very easily become “super contagious” events. Many countries around the world have paid a hefty price for risking large-scale events, which then let the pandemic spread, even to the point of being out of control.

Therefore, localities need to further strengthen their epidemic prevention and control measures; promote the role of the heads of authorities and the consensus of the whole society; resolutely stop organising unnecessary crowd-gathering activities such as festivals, pedestrian streets and night markets. Any events taking place must comply with epidemic prevention and control regulations as well as strictly implement preventive measures.

In particular, provinces and cities experiencing the epidemic such as Hanoi, Ha Nam, Vinh Phuc and Hung Yen have to mobilise to the utmost their forces, focus on tracing people related to COVID-19 cases in order to effectively quarantine and prevent the epidemic from spreading at even the lowest level. More than ever, the principle of "prevention is better than cure" should be upheld. All provinces and cities must activate all epidemic prevention and control plans to be ready for therapid detection, zoning and encirclement of epidemic outbreaks; complying with the 5K recommendations ofthe MoH.

Among the COVID-19 cases in recent times, there have been cases of infection spreading in the quarantine area (in Yen Bai) or not complying with regulations after concentrated isolation (patient No. 2899 in Ha Nam). Therefore, localities need to tighten and strictly comply with regulations oegarding isolation under the guidance of specialised agencies. Quarantine areas must ensure the security of the process from the time of pick-up at the airport, movement to quarantine areas and handover to localities after concentrated isolation.

In the coming days, after the holidays of April 30 and May 1, many big cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City will welcome back a large number of people, including many people coming back from epidemic-hit areas. Therefore, localities should have solutions to closely manage and supervise holiday-makers, especially those returning from epidemic-hit areas. It is appropriate for those returning to the city to make a medical report or report to the local authorities of their place of residence. That not only helps prevent illness for themselves, but is also their responsibility towards the whole society.

Vietnam Children’s Fine Arts Awards 2021 to be held

The Vietnam Children’s Fine Arts Awards 2021 is scheduled to be held to encourage and facilitate the development of children's fine arts inside and outside school, according to the Department of Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibition under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The Organizing Committee will begin to receive entries from May 25 to July 5, at the head office of the Department of Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibition at No.38 Cao Ba Quat street, Ba Dinh district, Hanoi.

It is expected there will be 400 excellent works selected to participate in the Vietnam Children’s Fine Arts Exhibition in 2021. From these, the Organising Committee will present three first prizes, six second prizes, ten third prizes, and 20 consolation prizes in addition to 10 collective prizes.

Exhibition introduces 100 works of painter Linh Chi

An exhibition was opened at the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum in Hanoi on the afternoon of May 1 to feature 100 paintings from the career of artist Linh Chi.

Artist Linh Chi's real name is Nguyen Tai Luong, born in 1921 in Vinh Yen (Vinh Phuc Province). With the knowledge of painting accumulated through lectures from many famous teachers in high school, he often carried the easel to many rural and mountainous areas of Hoa Binh, Lang Son and Tuyen Quang.

From 1951 to 1953, during the nation’s resistant war, painter Linh Chi attended a course led by famous painter To Ngoc Van. While immersing in the arduous life of the army and people in the long war, Linh Chi became a painter with his own personality, leaving many imprints in the hearts of the art-loving public.

At the end of the course, he was assigned to work for the national printer, then moved to work at the Xunhasaba book import and export agency. Amidst the busy work, the artist continued to compose and created many good works.

The humanistic value in Linh Chi's paintings is the harmonious combination between the behavioural attitude to reality and artistic ideals. His paintings are always closest to people, what people see and can feel. People love his paintings not only because of the poetic scenery, but also the harmony of shapes and colours that increase the aesthetic pleasure of viewers.

He also devoted many works on the topic of mountainous ethnic groups, with special feelings about the lives of people of different ethnic groups.

Many of his paintings are being displayed at the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum and in many private collections in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden and Japan.

During his career, artist Linh Chi held many exhibitions to introduce his artworks.

He passed away on March 1, 2016, at the age of 96. This year also marks his 100th birthday.

Hanoi FC keep title-race hopes alive with Saigon FC win

Hanoi FC kindled their hopes of making the top six title contenders in the second phase of V.League 1 by defeating Saigon FC 3-1 at home in the penultimate round of the first phase on May 2 thanks to goals from Geovane and Bruno.

The shining display of the foreign players earned the former champions their first victory under new manager Park Choong-kyun, lifting them to seventh in the table with 16 points, just a single point adrift of the top six.

Meanwhile, the loss pushed Saigon FC down to 13th position, standing just three points clear of bottom-place Song Lam Nghe An, who conceded three unanswered goals against Ho Chi Minh City on the same day.

Geovane contributed significantly to Hanoi FC’s Sunday triumph. The Brazilian forward moved the hosts off the mark after only three minutes lofting a skillful left-footed curler over goalkeeper Van Phong toward the far top corner.

Hanoi FC almost doubled their advantage 16 minutes later, however, Quang Hai’s impromptu volley was denied by the crossbar.

In the 28th minute, Cao Van Trien delivered a subtle pass from midfield to unmarked Manh Cuong, who burst into the box to take the ball before shooting past goalie Bui Tan Truong in a one-on-one to level the score.

After the break, Hanoi FC strengthened their attacks and created a number of clear-cut opportunities. It was not until the 67th minute that Park Choong-kyun’s side restored their lead with Geovane heading Thai Quy’s left-flank cross home to beat Van Phong, who had showed amazing reflexes to deny Bruno’s close-range shot just seconds earlier.

In the 79th minute, Bruno punished the guests’ loose defence by firing a powerful header from Van Quyet’s cross to seal a convincing 3-1 victory for Hanoi FC.

Hanoi FC are now level with Topenland Binh Dinh and SHB Da Nang on 16 points. They will need a win against bottom-place Song Lam Nghe An in the last round of the first phase on May 7 to firmly secure a place in the title campaign’s second phase.

Leaders Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) saw their seven-game winning run halted following a 2-2 home draw with Becamex Binh Duong, while title holders Viettel FC edged past SHB Da Nang 2-1 away to move within three points of HAGL.

Hong Linh Ha Tinh climbed to 10th place after beating Nam Dinh FC 3-2, extending their winning streak to four matches.

Lee Nguyen scored a brace to help Ho Chi Minh City defeat Hai Phong FC 3-0 to escape the relegation zone. Meanwhile, V.League 1 newbies Topenland Binh Dinh played out a 1-1 draw against third-placed Quang Ninh Coal.

Two more metro trains set to arrive in HCMC next week

Two metro trains with three carriages each of HCMC’s first metro line project linking Ben Thanh Market in District 1 with Suoi Tien Theme Park left Japan on May 1 and are expected to arrive in the city on May 10.

The trains were manufactured at Japan’s Kasado factory. After completing customs procedures at a local port, the two trains will be transported to Long Binh Depot in Thu Duc City in the following three to four days, the local media reported.

Four other trains of the metro line will have six carriages each. Of these, two trains will be transported to HCMC next month and the other two in July.

HCMC’s metro line No. 1 will have 17 trains, with the first phase using the three-car trains capable of carrying 930 passengers and the following phase using six-carriage ones, which are all manufactured in Japan.

The first train arrived in Khanh Hoi Port in October last year and is at Long Binh Depot for an upcoming trial operation.

Over 26,000 storm-affected people supported

More than 26,000 poor and near-poor people affected by recent storms and floods in central provinces such as Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue have been provided stabilization support.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the local authorities and the Red Cross have completed the repair and reinforcement of storm-resilient features for more than 3,300 damaged houses and provided 3,323 gender-responsive household kits for poor and near-poor households in these provinces.

This emergency assistance is part of the "Response to Disasters in Vietnam" project funded by the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund. In addition, UNDP has supported the construction of 20 new safe houses with full storm- and flood-resilient features in Quang Nam and Quang Ngai. Those in Ly Son Island, Quang Ngai Province, have particularly more resilient features and are powered by solar panels.

Since last October, central Vietnam has been impacted by a series of successive intense storms and record-level floods. According to the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control, more than 230 people were reported dead or missing and at least 380,000 houses were flooded, damaged or destroyed.

In the aftermath, tens of thousands of the most vulnerable were left with nothing but damaged houses, destroyed livelihoods and ruined crops. Many people lost almost all of their household possessions to the floodwaters and many others became homeless, making the lives of the poor and near-poor, who already have minimal resources, even more difficult.

Addressing the handover of the new resilient and repaired houses to local low-income households on April 29, Tran Van Tan, vice chairman of Quang Nam Province, said, “We highly appreciate UNDP’s efforts and timely assistance in building and repairing the damaged houses of the poor to help them recover from disasters. We hope to continue to receive support to help vulnerable people have a better life."

Representing the poor households who received the support, Luu Thi Phuong from Que Son District thanked UNDP, the Provincial People's Committee and the Red Cross, saying, “Without this support, I don't know when my sons and I would be able to build such a resilient house.”

According to Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP resident representative in Vietnam, the resilient houses have saved thousands of lives during the historic floods and storms that battered the central region. However, there is still a long way to go to reach all those in need. For this reason, UNDP is also organizing a crowdfunding campaign, “Safe houses save lives”, to support the construction of an initial 100 new houses in highly vulnerable locations.

“In particular, our houses on Ly Son Island will have a new and strengthened design addressing the special conditions of the wind forces impacting the islands and a rooftop solar system capable of providing a sufficient lighting system for the households,” she added.

Moreover, with the support of the Green Climate Fund, the Government of Vietnam and UNDP, more than 430 safe houses able to withstand storms and floods have been built for the poor and near-poor in Quang Nam Province from 2018 until now.

Reforestation may be life-altering to ethnic people

Given the vast area of forested land still available, Ho A Lai and his peers of Van Kieu ethnic people in Kim Thuy Commune are expecting to expand their initial acreage of forests from 734.32 hectares to about 5,000 hectares. Their wood will be branded with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification within the next five years. To them, this may be a life-changing event.

Ho A Lai, a member of the Van Kieu ethnic minority in Kim Thuy Commune in Quang Binh Province’s Le Thuy District, has recently been awarded with a sustainable forest management certification. The certification, issued by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), is valid from March 26, 2021 to March 25, 2026. Quang Binh’s Le Thuy is also the first district in the province to be granted with an FSC certification in line with the household management model.

Mr. Lai is one among more than 100 first forest owners who registered for the participation in the above model in the hope that the reforestation in line with FSC standards may help them earn better income. Mr. Lai’s Kim Thuy can boast a strength in reforestation as forested land accounts for a third of the commune’s total acreage. Despite the great potential in forestry, until 2019, poverty remained rampant in the commune where up to 46% of its households were still poor, according to statistics released by the local communal authorities. In some hamlets with a population of Van Kieu ethnic people, say, Rum Ho Hamlet, the poverty rate was as high as 75%. 

In accordance with the FSC sustainable forest management certification, forest owners are encouraged to switch from unsustainable to sustainable cultivation mode via a breakaway from the habit of burning down vegetation following forest exploitation, plowing the top surface of forests, using plant protection chemicals and dumping thrash in the forest, to name but a few.

This process also seeks to request forest owners to strictly protect vulnerable biological habitats, such as brooks, indigenous plants and local wild animals. Also under the protection are historic relics, such as former bomb creates or signs of biodiversity.

In addition, the FSC standards encourage forest owners to build their own plants to manage their forested land, apply work safety measures and exploit forests at an appropriate rate suitable to environmental protection.

In return, these strict regulations mean that FSC-branded wood products are always preferred by wood processors worldwide at prices 15-20% higher than normal prices.

According to statistics obtained from the General Department of Vietnam Customs, despite considerable effects by Covid-19, the country’s export sales of timber and wood products reached US$12.37 billion in 2020, a rise of 16.2% over 2019. As Vietnam’s integration into the global marketplace intensifies, the demand for FSC-certificated wood has become increasingly urgent and is now actually a matter of life and death to enterprises in the woodwork industry, especially after the Voluntary Partnership Agreements/Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan (VPA/FLEGT) has come into effect. Although Vietnam is a country having great potential for forestry development, her wood enterprises are still lacking wood materials and FSC-certified wood products.

Previously, Ho A Lai and his ethnic peers mostly practiced nomadic farming as they burnt out forests to turn them into fields for some time. After several years when the fertile top soil had gone, they let the fields untouched for a few years so that the land could recover to a certain extent before they came back. Over the past several years, nomadic farming has been terminated as a result of the State’s more stringent forest management. At the same time, as many Van Kiet ethnic people have sold their forested land to others, they no longer have enough land for the practice of nomadic farming.

Since a decade ago, locals have begun to grow hybrid acacia trees, focusing on some areas, to sell them to be used as pulp in the paper production industry. Hybrid acacia trees are often planted with extremely heavy density, from 4,000 to 5,000 trees per hectare, without trimming. After four years of growth, acacia trees can be exploited. This cycle may be shortened if their growers are in need of money. However, no trimming and heavy density will force the trees to grow slowly and decrease productivity because they lack space and nutrition.

Exploitation only four years after being grown will also reduce commercial viability of the trees because this is the time they begin to accelerate growth, their wood remains immature, and their diameters are small and their weight is not great. Experience gained from many localities nationwide shows that acacia trees of six to eight years old would produce a weight double or thrice as much as four-year-old trees would. Such mature trees could then be sold for making timber, logs, or wood used in construction or wood materials for furniture, not for pulp. Consequently, its commercial value may be twice or thrice as much.

In spite of the bigger economic benefit, Van Kieu ethnic minority groups have never done away with this way of hybrid acacia tree cultivation. They have stayed faithful to their habit of early exploitation for fear that storms may wipe away their trees. Otherwise, they are desperately in need of money or have no relations with buyers of FSC-brand wood. Nor do they have support in compiling files and expenses for the certification process.

Those Van Kieu ethnic people groups stood a chance when they were assisted by a non-governmental project which gave them initial technical and financial support for the certification. This support has also allowed forest owners to set up their own association that represents them to receive the necessary certification and work with enterprises and State agencies in paperwork and product consumption.

Given the vast area of forest land still available, Ho A Lai and his ethnic peers in Kim Thuy Commune are expecting to expand their initial acreage of forests from 734.32 hectares to about 5,000 hectares whose wood will be branded with FSC certification within the next five years. 

Six families of 28 caught entering Vietnam from Cambodia illegally by boats

Border guards of the Vinh Xuong border crossing between Vietnam and Cambodia in Tan Chau Town in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang caught 28 Vietnamese Cambodian people who had illegally entered Vietnam by boats through the Tien River on May 1. 

Accordingly, the border force detected three cases of illegal entry into the country on the day featuring a total number of 28 people of six families. They were found in the Vinh Xuong Commune’s Hamlet 5 while illegally crossing the Vietnam-Cambodia border by riding 14 boats on the Tien River, a branch of the Mekong River that connects the two countries.

The border station asked them to return to the point of departure and comply with Covid-19 preventive and control measures issued by the local Government.

The Vinh Xuong border crossing informed to the Cambodian functional departments, the Overseas Vietnamese Association in Cambodia and asked for coordination in the prevention and control of illegal immigration into Vietnam.

Turkey drops PCR test requirement for Vietnamese citizens 

The decision is set to take place from May 15.

Turkish authorities have removed the requirement for negative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for entry of citizens from 16 countries and territories, including Vietnam.

In addition to Vietnam, those from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, UK, Latvia, Luxembourg, Ukraine, Thailand, South Korea, Israel, Japan, Estonia, China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan), also made the list, set to take effect from May 15.

Turkey yesterday [May 2] recorded nearly 26,000 new Covid-19 cases, taking the total number of Covid-19 infections in the country to around 4.9 million cases. The number of the pandemic-related death in the past 24 hours expanded by 340 to a total of 40,844.

The country has started its vaccination program since January 14 after approving emergency use for Chinese CoronaVac vaccine. So far, over 13.8 million Turkish has been administered with the vaccine.

As of May 3, Vietnam has confirmed 2,962 infections, including 2,549 convalescents. Half of the total cases are locally-transmitted.

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