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Vietnam plans to produce and commercialise a vaccine against African swine fever in the third quarter of 2021, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien during a press conference in Hanoi on January 14.

Tien said the vaccine trials have produced positive results.

According to him, the vaccine is expected to ensure not only the supply of food from livestock farming but also livelihoods of 2.5 million breeding households.

Vietnam is targeting more than 90 percent of its communes and wards being free of African swine fever by 2022 and all by 2025.

The targets are set in a national plan on African swine fever prevention for the 2020-2025 period that has been approved by Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung.

The plan also targets 500 safe pig breeding facilities and 50 safe livestock chains, meeting domestic demand and for export./.

Vietnam reaps many diplomatic achievements: Foreign Ministry spokesperson

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam has reaped encouraging achievements in pandemic control, socio-economic development and particularly external relations, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang.

At the Foreign Ministry’s regular press conference on January 14, Hang said Vietnam has fulfilled its roles as Chair of ASEAN in 2020, Chair of the 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA 41) and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in the first year of the 2020-2021 tenure.

She noted that bilateral and multilateral diplomatic activities continued to be strengthened through both online and direct forms. Vietnam has provided support in the form of medical supplies to 51 countries and international organisations, contributing to global efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid the difficulties caused by the pandemic, Vietnam has treated citizens infected by the novel coronavirus of many countries and sent them home, while protecting its own citizens abroad. According to Hang, Vietnam has conducted 299 flights to bring more than 80,000 Vietnamese citizens in 60 countries and territories back to the home country./.

PM orders democratic, fair, safe organisation of general elections

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has requested ensuring democracy, fairness, safety and thrift in the elections of deputies to the 15th National Assembly and the People’s Councils at all levels in the 2021-2026 tenure.

In a directive dated January 14, PM Phuc asked the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) to coordinate with relevant agencies to direct news agencies to disseminate the significance and importance of the elections, the right to vote and to stand as a candidate of citizens to officials, public servants, armed forces and people from all walks of life.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment should instruct the General Statistics Office to guide its provincial and municipal chapters to provide population data until December 31, 2020 to serve as a foundation to count the number of NA and People’s Council deputies at each administrative unit.

The Government leader directed the Ministry of Transport and the MIC to work on specific plans to ensure smooth transport and information during the preparation and organisation of the general elections, especially before and in the election day of May 23, 2021.

The Defence Ministry and the Ministry of Public Security should have plans to deploy personnel to ensure political security and social safety and order, and stay ready to respond to natural disasters.

The Finance Ministry has to promptly allocate funding for centrally-run agencies and localities to carry out election work.

PM Phuc also required the Health Ministry to continue keeping a close watch on the COVID-19 pandemic developments and implementing prevention and control measures synchronously and effectively.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should work with relevant agencies to have plans to actively respond to possible disasters, while the Government Inspectorate has to guide the asset declaration for candidates, and promptly solve denunciations and complaints of citizens before, during and after the elections.

The Government leader asked the Ministry of Internal Affairs to be responsible to ensure the progress of the general elections.

Meanwhile, the People’s Committees at all levels will organise the general elections as directed by the National Election Council, the National Assembly Standing Committee, the Government and the Prime Minister, and the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee./.

Cross-border drug smuggler arrested in Ha Tinh

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Police operating at the Cau Treo international border gate in Ha Tinh province have arrested a Vietnamese citizen allegedly smuggling a large quantity of drugs from Laos into Vietnam.

The suspect has been identified as 37-year-old Tran Ngoc Nam of An Hai Bac ward in Son Tra district of Da Nang city.

Nam was caught red handed at national road 8A in Son Kim commune of Huong Son district in Ha Tinh province while he was attempting to illegally smuggle drugs from Laos into the country.

Authorities seized eight kg of Ketamine, three kg of Methamphetamine, in addition to other related exhibits.

Nam confessed that he was hired by a Lao man to transport the drugs from Cau Treo border gate to Hai Phong city.

The case is currently being further investigated by authorised agencies.

Da Nang should stay vigilant to prevent COVID-19: health official

The central city of Da Nang should remain vigilant, and build detailed plans for COVID-19 prevention particularly when the Lunar New Year 2021 nears, Deputy Minister of Health Truong Quoc Cuong has said.

Cuong, who is also deputy head of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, ordered the central city to enhance close supervision at Da Nang International Airport, port and station, as well as quarantine suspected cases soon, and continue following preventive measures in line with the Ministry of Health’s 5K slogan.

Due attention should be paid to setting up COVID-19 safety maps and communications work to raise public awareness of COVID-19 prevention measures, he added.

The whole medical system and people should join hands in the COVID-19 combat, ensuring a safe and warm Tet holiday for all, Cuong highlighted.

According to Deputy Director of the municipal Department of Health Nguyen Tien Hong, Da Nang has two local military-managed quarantine facilities, and 23 hotels which can offer 1,473 rooms for quarantine.

The department has provided the hotels with safe reception and quarantine training, he added.

From April 1, 2020 to January 12, 2021, the city received 59 international flights and five international cruise ships.

Hong asked the Ministry of Health to detail healthcare supervision procedures in 14 days for those who complete quarantine period, and direct localities to build plan to prevent the pandemic in 2021./.

Tien Giang to create jobs for 16,000 people

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Honeydew melons planted with advanced farming techniques in Tiền Giang Province’s Gò Công Tây District. The province has provided vocational training to help workers find jobs and become more productive.

The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Tiền Giang has stepped up measures to create jobs for 16,000 labourers and send 300 people to work overseas this year, according to the province’s Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

The province aims to reduce the unemployment rate in urban areas to less than 4 per cent this year, down 0.5 per cent against last year.

To provide jobs for labourers, the province will provide soft loans to help create jobs and encourage labourers to participate in the province’s overseas work programmes.

The province will also introduce jobs to labourers via its Job Introduction Centre and vocational skill training centres.

It will provide vocational skills for labourers based on the requirements of companies so they can find jobs after participating in training courses.

Job introduction activities will be organised at vocational skills training centres for graduates.

The province provided jobs for 9,000 labourers last year, down 55 per cent against 2019 because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It sent 287 labourers to work overseas last year.

Under its plan to provide vocational skills for rural labourers, more than 43,422 labourers in the past 10 years have received training, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

About 80 – 85 per cent of the 43,422 labourers found new jobs, or continued their existing jobs but achieved higher productivity.

The province’s Farmer Support and Vocational Skills Training Centre and farmers associations at all levels have also organised vocational training courses for farmers. 

Farmer Nguyễn Văn Tây participated in a training course on growing rice as well as a course on growing flowers and ornamental plants in Mỹ Hòa Hamlet in Tân Phước District’s Phước Lập Commune. He achieved higher production efficiency after applying what he learned.

Previously, he and other farmers in the hamlet had used traditional farming methods, so the production efficiency was not high.

The training course helped him create ornamental plants with beautiful shapes and sizes, and expand plant cultivation, he said.

He now grows 2.5ha of rice and 3ha of ornamental plants, he said.

“My family’s income is stable,” he said. 

UK’s GREAT scholarships for sustainable development launched

The British Council said on January 13 it has launched the GREAT scholarship programme for sustainable development for students from five countries, including Vietnam.

The other four countries benefiting from the 280,000 GBP programme are Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.

The programme is designed for those who want to study at a UK university for a one-year postgraduate course in a climate change-related subject. Each scholarship offers a minimum of 10,000 GBP towards tuition fees.

The scholarships are jointly funded by the British Council, the GREAT Britain Campaign, and participating UK higher education institutions.

For 2021–2022, academic year, students from Vietnam can apply for this scholarship through Anglia Ruskin University, Royal Agricultural University, University College London, University of Bristol, University of East Anglia, University of Greenwich./.

HCM City’s Tet Viet festival to honour traditional values

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VCCA Secretary General Le Tan speaks at a press conference on the event

The 2021 Tet Viet (Vietnamese Tet) festival is slated for January 21-24 in HCM City, honouring cultural values and cuisine, as well as customs and anecdotes during the country’s traditional Lunar New Year (Tet) festival.

The event, which will be held by the municipal Department of Tourism, the Department of Industry and Trade and the Vietnam Cuisine Culture Association (VCCA), is expected to attract more than 70,000 visitors.

VCCA Secretary General Le Tan said highlights of the festival will be an exhibition on Tet feasts, traditional music performances and folk games.

Tet dishes across the country will be served at the event, which is set to feature about 150 pavilions.

Director of the HCM City Tourism Department Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa said the second Tet Viet festival also aims to bolster consumer demand, attract more tourists ahead of the country’s longest holiday, and promote HCM City’s image as a dynamic, open and friendly destination.

The festival drew more than 50,000 visitors last year./.

Tien Giang aims to create jobs for 16,000 labourers in 2021

The Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang has taken measures to create jobs for 16,000 labourers and send 300 people to work abroad in 2021, according to the provincial Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

The province aims to reduce the unemployment rate in urban areas to less than 4 percent this year.

To provide jobs for labourers, the province will provide soft loans to help create jobs and encourage labourers to participate in the province’s overseas work programmes.

The province will also introduce jobs to labourers via its Job Introduction Centre and vocational skill training centres.

It will provide vocational skills for labourers based on the requirements of companies so they can find jobs after participating in training courses.

Job introduction activities will be organised at vocational skills training centres for graduates.

The province provided jobs for 9,000 labourers last year, down 55 percent against 2019 because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It sent 287 labourers to work overseas last year.

Under its plan to provide vocational skills for rural labourers, more than 43,422 labourers in the past 10 years have received training, according to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

About 80 – 85 percent of the 43,422 labourers found new jobs, or continued their existing jobs but achieved higher productivity.

The province’s Farmer Support and Vocational Skills Training Centre and farmers associations at all levels have also organised vocational training courses for farmers.

Malaysia re-imposes movement control order

Malaysia re-applied the Movement Control Order (MCO) from January 13 to 26 in various locations as the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) was no longer effective, said Noor Hisham, a high-ranking official of the Malaysian Ministry of Health.

During a regular press conference on COVID-19 held on January 13, Hisham said that the MCO will last for four weeks at most.

He added that the CMCO was introduced in last October, but now a more drastic approach has to be taken to break the infection chain of the disease.

He voiced his hope that the number of daily cases will drop to less than 1,000 or 500 after four weeks and the curve will be once again flattened by May.

On January 13, Malaysia logged 2,985 new COVID-19 cases, with two imported ones, raising the national tally to 144,518./.

Resources must be prioritised for ethnic minority areas: NA leader

While the lives of people in ethnic minority and mountainous areas have improved over the years, efforts must be made to preserve their unique cultural identities, a top lawmaker has said.

Over the years, the Party and the State have paid special attention to development in ethnic minority and mountainous areas, Vice Chairwoman of the National Assembly Tong Thi Phong said at a workshop on socio-economic development in ethnic minority and mountainous areas in the Central Highlands and central coastal provinces, which was held in Dak Lak province on January 13.

These efforts have improved the lives of people in such areas, strengthened national security and defence and raised the political position of ethnic minorities, she said.

However, the legislator said, these areas are still in difficult conditions and there are big gaps in socio-economic development between regions.

Development poses many challenges for ethnic minority areas, especially employment, poverty, environmental protection and protecting cultural spaces aimed to preserve the unique traditional cultural values of ethnic groups, she said.

She emphasised that the Central Highlands and central coastal provinces have a particularly important position in terms of socio-economic, defence, security and environment for the country.

According to the NA Vice Chairwoman, the approval of the Master Plan on socio-economic development in ethnic minority and mountainous areas in 2021-2030 and the passing of a resolution on the national target programme on socio-economic development in ethnic minority and mountainous areas during 2021-2030 are very important.

“It is a driving force for ethnic minority people in the cause of poverty reduction, sustainable socio-economic development in harmony with the overall development of the country,” Phong said.

The National Assembly on May 19, 2020 passed a resolution on the national target programme on socio-economic development in ethnic minority and mountainous areas during 2021-2030, aimed at improving the livelihoods of ethnic minority groups.

The programme sets a target of doubling the income per capita of people from ethnic minority groups in the next five years compared to the current rate from 1.1 million VND to 2.2 million VND (47-95 USD) per month per person.

By 2025, it aims to improve infrastructure, create jobs and address the pressing issues of more than 16,100 households from ethnic minority groups and disadvantaged ethnic groups.

By 2030, the income per capita of people from ethnic minority groups is hoped to be raised to half of the national average. The programme also aims to cut the number of poor households to less than 10 per cent of the total number of households, with no hamlets or communes in extremely difficult conditions and 70 per cent of communes in ethnic minority and mountainous areas meeting new rural area criteria.

The lawmaker suggested a number of solutions for ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands and coastal central provinces to develop rapidly and sustainably.

Issues related to land and employment should be solved to enhance ethnic minorities' incomes, she said, adding that cultural and education development should prioritise ethnic minority people.

Phong said special policies dedicated to improving education among minorities must be issued. She also mentioned the need to ensure they enjoy free healthcare services.

It is essential to focus on training human resources for ethnic minority and mountainous regions, maintaining a certain rate of ethnic minorities among cadres in those localities.

Participants at the conference discussed several issues including how to secure resources and supervise State budget investment for the programme. The perseveration of traditional cultural values of ethnic minority people as well as how to deal with illegal migration were also discussed at the meeting./.

Heartwarming ad to reduce rhino horn consumption takes flight in Vietnam

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An emotional commercial is launched for air travellers of flag carrier Vietnam Airlines in the hope of reducing demand for rhino horn in Vietnam. (Photo courtesy of Humane Society International)

Animal protection organisation Humane Society International has launched an emotional commercial for air travellers of flag carrier Vietnam Airlines in the hope of reducing demand for rhino horn in Vietnam which will help to ultimately end the poaching of rhinos in Africa.

The short ad, titled “When I Grow Up”, will play on passenger screens on all Vietnam Airlines flights as well as in premium airline lounges across the country.

It features Vietnamese primary school children sharing their big dreams for the future. A little boy at the end of the story awakens the compassion and national pride of Vietnamese adults by urging them to stop using rhino horn.

“Our rhino horn reduction commercial will run consecutively for a six-month period starting January 2021,” said HSI Vietnam country director Tham Hong Phuong. “By reaching the targeted demographic of mostly affluent air travellers with our tailored campaign messages, we expect to achieve demand-reduction results. We strongly believe that reducing rhino horn demand will reduce the number of rhinos poached in Africa.”

Dr. Teresa Telecky, vice president of HSI Wildlife, added “the increased demand for wildlife products in Vietnam and other Asian countries is one of many key threats to endangered species over the world.” She hoped the message can touch emotions and gradually change behaviour.

Toby Wosskow, British-American award-winning filmmaker who is the project’s creative director, said “in the commercial, when the young boy stands in front of the rhinos, the look he shares with his father and grandfather sends a universal message: it’s never too early or too late to stand up for what is right."


“When first hearing about the story concept, I was drawn to how powerfully a little boy’s courage can motivate emotional change and I realised how crucial the message of reducing rhino horn usage should be,” said Kathy Uyen, who directed the commercial.

“When I Grow Up” is funded by the Glen and Bobbie Ceiley Foundation and is part of HSI’s long-term efforts to reduce the consumption of rhino horn and other wildlife products in Vietnam and other countries.

Rhino horn is valued in Asian countries for medicinal benefits even although there is no scientific evidence to back these claims. Horns can be sold for high prices on the black market.

HSI works around the globe to promote the human-animal bond, rescue and protect dogs and cats, improve farm animal welfare, protect wildlife, promote animal-free testing and research, respond to natural disasters and confront cruelty to animals in all of its forms. The organisation started working in Vietnam from August 2013./.

VN Fatherland Front to uphold consultation role in general election

The Vietnam Fatherland Front's (VFF) chapters at all levels must perform their duties in holding consultations to select and nominate candidates for the election of deputies to the National Assembly and all-level People’s Councils in the 2021-2026 tenure, said President of the VFF Central Committee Trần Thanh Mẫn. 

Man, who is also Vice Chairman of the National Election Committee (NEC) and head of the VFF’s steering committee for election affairs, told the steering committee’s first session on Wednesday that the general election is an important event with close connection to personnel affairs and the responsibility of all-level authorities and sectors. 

In this spirit, he stressed that preparations for the election must be done in a serious and democratic manner in accordance with laws. 

He required all-level VFF chapters to participate in the supervision of the election, and coordinate with same-level People’s Committees and People’s Councils to set up organisations for consultation work in candidate nomination, ensuring objectivity, impartiality, and accuracy. 

According to the official, the standing board of the VFF’s Central Committee has issued plans and documents regulating and guiding consultation work in candidate nomination. 

The board will also receive petitions and denunciations related to the election in line with regulations.

As scheduled, after the NEC holds a national training conference on preparations for the election, the VFF will also organise a national online training conference on the work for organisations in its system. 

The first consultation conference on candidate nomination will take place on February 5. The second conference will be held before March 19 and the third before April 18.

The election of deputies to the National Assembly and all-level People’s Councils in the 2021-2026 tenure is slated to be held on May 23, 2021. 

Extreme cold weather kills over 540 cattle in the north

The extreme cold weather, between January 7 and January 12, has killed over 540 cows and buffaloes as well as damaged about 93ha of crops in northern mountainous provinces of Cao Bằng, Lào Cai, Điện Biên, Sơn La, Lai Châu, Lạng Sơn and Yên Bái.

The damage, caused by the freezing temperatures, was mitigated as residents took measures to shelter most animals and protect crops.

Nguyễn Như Cường, head of the Department of Crop Production under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said most people in the mountainous provinces were already aware of keeping their animals and plants warm during the winter.

Farming households set up lamps for plants and increased food for animals during the cold snap, he said.

Nguyễn Thị X, owner of a large herd of cattle in Than Uyên District, Lai Châu Province, said her family prepared the farm and stored enough straw from the beginning of the harvest season. The current cold weather did not affect the cattle.

In Yên Bái Province, Nguyễn Văn Hòe, head of Agriculture and Rural Development Office of Trạm Tấu District, said the office sent its staff to every village to instruct local residents to take measures to protect animals and plants from the cold.

Nguyễn Văn Long, deputy director of the ministry’s Department of Animal Health, said hoarfrost was also identified as a natural disaster, so owners of dead cattle could receive financial support from the State in accordance with Decree No 02/2017-NĐ-CP.

Currently, localities are compiling statistics on damage to report to the Central Steering Committee on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control’s Office to receive financial support.

It is estimated that there are over 3.4 million cattle in the northern mountainous provinces.

In a related movement, the National Centre for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting warned that another extreme cold spell would hit the northern region on Sunday. The extreme cold spell was forecast to last two or three days. 

Đồng Tháp produces high-quality mangoes to meet export requirements

The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Đồng Tháp is cultivating mangoes under good agricultural practices (GAP) standards and developing linkages among stakeholders to secure outlets and improve fruit value.

The province, which is the largest mango producer in the delta, has applied advanced farming techniques and made products from fresh mangoes for domestic consumption and export.

The province has more than 9,000ha of mango, mostly in Cao Lãnh District and Cao Lãnh City. Of its total mango growing area, the Hòa Lộc variety accounts for 70 per cent and Cát Chu variety 20 per cent. The two varieties are speciality mangoes in high demand by consumers.

Nguyễn Phước Thiện, director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the province ensured a stable supply of quality mango sources for processing mango products for export.

The province has 4,533ha of mango granted production unit codes for export to China and 376ha granted production unit codes for export to the US, Canada and Russia.  

Code-granted mango growing areas have a minimum area of 10ha each, grow only mango variety, and grow the fruit under Vietnamese good agricultural practices (VietGAP) standards or other equivalent standards.

These areas also meet many other requirements such as pesticide use regulations and maintenance of a cultivation diary for traceability purposes.

The province is reviewing its zoning to develop concentrated mango growing areas to meet export requirements.

It has established two large-scale specialised mango growing areas in Cao Lãnh District and Cao Lãnh City.

The Cao Lãnh mango in Cao Lãnh City and Cao Lãnh District has been granted geographical indication certification.

The cultivation of mango in the districts Thanh Bình, Lấp Vò and Châu Thành is being expanded.

Around 342ha of mango are planted to VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards and 5.7ha mango under organic standards in the province.

Nguyễn Thành Tài, deputy director of the province’s Department of Science and Technology, said the quality and value of mango has been enhanced by using VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards, producing off-season mango, and developing code-granted mango growing areas in recent years.

To have high-quality mango for exports, on-tree mangoes have to be covered by bags to improve their appearance and be harvested at the proper ripening time, he said.

The province produces more than 100,000 tonnes of mango a year, most of which are consumed domestically. It exports hundreds of tonnes of mangoes a year.

Off-season mangoes are cultivated on more than 6,600ha.

Off-season mangoes sell for VNĐ8,000-30,000 (35 cent-US$1.3) a kilogramme more than mangoes harvested in the main harvest season.

Farmers who grow off-season Hòa Lộc mangoes can earn an average profit of VNĐ180 million ($7,780) per hectare a year, according to farmers.

The province has developed co-operatives for farmers to grow mangoes and linkages among stakeholders for sustainable production. 

Thiện, director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the province has developed eight co-operatives, 37 co-operative groups and 23 farmer clubhouses for growing mangoes on a total area of 1,073ha. 

The co-operatives, co-operative groups and farmer clubhouses have signed farm contracts with more than 10 companies that buy fresh mangoes for export and manufacturing mango products.

Some of the companies have processed fresh mangoes into products like dried mango, frozen mango and mango wine.

Saigon Outcast to host Tết market in District 2

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The District 2-based outdoor bar Saigon Outcast will host the Thảo Điền Flea Market: Tết Edition 2021 on January 30. File photo from the organsier’s Facebook page

The outdoor bar Saigon Outcast in District 2 will host the Thảo Điền Flea Market: Tết Edition 2021 on January 30.

The market will offer a wide range of art works, accessories, clothes, flowers, plants and ornaments. Homemade food, snacks and healthy products will be included.

The market will feature craft workshops and activities for families and live entertainment performances.

The venue is at 188/1 Nguyễn Văn Hưởng Street in District 2. Entrance is free. 

Master plan of President Ho Chi Minh memorial site in Nghe An announced

The Nghe An provincial People's Committee held a ceremony, on January 13, to announce the Prime Minister's decision No. 1943 / QD-TTg, dated November 27, 2020 on approving the master plan for conservation, renovation and promotion of the value of National Special National Relic Site Commemorating President Ho Chi Minh in Kim Lien Village, Nam Dan District, Nghe An province.

The plan aims to preserve, restore and promote the value of the site, and honour the life and career of President Ho Chi Minh. It covers 278.86 hectares, comprising of Sen Village, Hoang TruVillage, Chung Mountain relic site, the tomb of Hoang Thi Loan (President Ho Chi Minh’s mother), surrounding agricultural land areas around Chung Mountain site and Lien Minh Village of Kim Lien Commune.

The implementation period of the master plan starts from 2021 to 2030. The capital source for the implementation shall be from the state budget and mobilize legal capital sources according to the provisions of law.

Chairman of the Nghe An provincial People's Committee Nguyen Duc Trung affirmed the announcement of the Prime Minister's decision on approving the master plan for conservation, renovation and promotion of the value of National Special National Relic Site Commemorating President Ho Chi Minh in Kim Lien Village is of very important significance to the province.

The purpose of the plan is building synchronously, creating the connection between Lang Sen relic cluster, Hoang Tru relic cluster, Hoang Thi Loan tomb area, Chung Son temple and tourist service areas in the complex.

Along with promoting the value of the monument, the plan is also associated with the development of tourism forms, tourism products based on the potential of available natural resources and culture of the area.

New Zealand man found dead at home in Ca Mau

A man from New Zealand who worked as an English teacher in the southern province of Ca Mau has been found dead in his rented house.

Authorities in Ca Mau City on January 13 announced that a New Zealand man, Hale Lee Royston, was found dead at his rented house in Ward 4.

According to the authorities, a representative from an English training centre in Ward 9 came to the police station on January 12 to report that they had not been able to contact the 69-year-old man who was working as an English teacher at the centre.

The police came to his rented house to find that the man had died while the door was still locked from inside.

Hale Lee Royston has stayed and worked in the area since 2019, the police said.

Police are further investigating his death.

Binh Dinh to deal with river encroachment

Authorities in Binh Dinh Province have ordered the relocation of hundreds of households which have encroached upon the Dinh River, affecting water flows.

On January 13, Party Secretary of Binh Dinh Province Ho Quoc Dung, Chairman of Binh Dinh People's Committee Nguyen Phi Long and leaders of related departments inspected the Dinh River in Quy Nhon City in preparation for the flood prevention project.

A 3km-section of Dinh River will be upgraded to increase its drainage capacity and this section runs through many residential clusters. Those households have encroached on the Dinh River for years, narrowing the river and affecting its drainage capacity.

In order to carry out the flood prevention project, about 280 households must be relocated and the river bank must be repaired. The authorities must also dredge the river. Quy Nhon City People's Committee will be responsible for organising the resettlement areas and compensation fund. The Binh Dinh People's Committee will be responsible for the funding of the construction and any renovation.

Dung asked Quy Nhon City authorities to have measures to prevent local people from continuing to encroach upon rivers. He also urged to quickly carry out the ground clearance and compensation tasks so that the Management Board of Agriculture and Rural Development Projects can start construction in 2021.

On the same day, Dung inspected some major constructions in Quy Nhon City and asked the Department of Construction to research the plan to build a monument at Bau Sen Lake. The scenery and green spaces around Bau Sen Lake should also be upgraded.

In regard to Binh Dinh Convention Centre, Dung asked for more maintenance and effective layout of meeting rooms and equipment. Related agencies were asked to work with the Quy Nhon People's Committee to repair the park in front of the Labour Culture House.

5.9-magnitude earthquake hits Indonesia
A 5.9-magnitude earthquake jolted West Sulawesi province in central Indonesia on January 14, the country’s meteorology and geophysics agency reported.
VNA Thursday, January 14, 2021 15:38 

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Hanoi (VNA) – A 5.9-magnitude earthquake jolted West Sulawesi province in central Indonesia on January 14, the country’s meteorology and geophysics agency reported.

The quake struck at 1.35 pm (local time), with the epicentre 4 km from northwest Majene district and a depth of 10 km. It did not potentially trigger a tsunami.

Ten days earlier, another quake with a magnitude of 5.0 hit an area 137 km north-northwest of Kendari. Its epicenter was 10 km deep.

Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide.

In 2018, a 7.5-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami on Sulawesi island left more than 4,300 people dead or missing.

A devastating 9.1-magnitude quake struck off the coast of Sumatra in 2004, triggering a tsunami that killed 220,000 throughout the region, including around 170,000 in Indonesia./. 

COVID-19 vaccine trials in Vietnam strictly follow WHO’s guidance

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The first human trial of COVID-19 vaccine Nanocovax begins in Vietnam on December 17 with the first three volunteers, receiving injections at the Military Medical Academy.

The trials of COVID-19 vaccine in Vietnam strictly follow the guidance of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and international organisations in terms of safety and immunity, said Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang at a press conference in Hanoi on January 14.

She said that the Military Medical University gave 75mcg of Nanocovax, a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Vietnam, to three volunteers on January 12. This is the highest dose of the vaccine given to volunteers during the first stage of human trials.

Nanocovax is developed by the Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC, basing on recombinant protein technology. Currently, there has been no evidence that new COVID-19 variants can resist this technology./.

ASEAN, China vow to boost ties

Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi agreed to further enhance ASEAN-China relations at their meeting in Brunei on January 14.

Wang said the dynamic and fruitful China-ASEAN dialogue partnership has become an important pillar for regional peace and stability, development and prosperity.

He noted China appreciates the important contribution made by the ASEAN Secretariat in promoting the development of China-ASEAN ties and cooperation in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of their dialogue relations. Wang expressed his hope that both sides take this opportunity to organize a series of commemorative events, implement the five-year action plan, elevate their relations, and build a closer ASEAN-China community with a shared future.

The official said China is willing to work with ASEAN to improve the level of cooperation in public health, carry out COVID-19 vaccine cooperation with more ASEAN countries, work together with ASEAN countries to build a blue economy partnership, jointly make the ASEAN-China Year of Sustainable Development Cooperation a success, among other areas.

Wang emphasised that China will continue to support the work of the ASEAN Secretariat, strengthen the China-ASEAN cooperation fund, adhere to the ASEAN centrality, and stand firmly with bloc.

Lim said the ASEAN-China relations are of great significance to ASEAN. He thanked China for its strong support to ASEAN’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. He hoped that both sides would seize the opportunity of the 30th anniversary of the dialogue relations to further elevate the ties.

Lim said that this year ASEAN will focus on poverty reduction, disaster prevention and mitigation, as well as sustainable development, and is willing to strengthen cooperation and capacity building with China in relevant areas to help achieve the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

ASEAN is committed to maintaining a free, open and rules-based free trade system and supports its member nations in deepening cooperation with China to accelerate regional economic recovery, he added./.

UNFPA offers aid to support the elderly amid COVID-19

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) handed over COVID-19 personal protective equipment meant to support the elderly to the Social Protection Department under the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs in Hanoi on January 14.

The supplies include gloves, face masks, anti-droplet face shields, thermometers, and hand sanitizer worth 30,000 USD.

They will be distributed to social protection centers and community caregivers in high-risk cities and provinces, namely Hanoi, Hai Duong, Da Nang and Quang Nam.

At the handover ceremony, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam Naomi Kitahara said the COVID-19 pandemic is amplifying the vulnerability of the elderly, and that the fatality rate for older people is higher, and for those above the age of 80, it is five times higher than the global average.

Therefore, elderly people must be a priority in dealing with COVID-19 to ensure no one is left behind in humanitarian response as well as in development efforts, she added.

Appreciating the UNFPA support for the elderly in Vietnam, Deputy Director of the Social Protection Department Pham Thi Hai Ha said ensuring people’s health, especially providing essential health care support and services for the elderly is one of the top priorities of the Vietnamese Government.

The protection of health for medical workers and caregivers of older people also requires due attention, so they also need sufficient personal protective gear.

According to the UNFPA, the COVID-19 pandemic has seriously affected the elderly since they and those with underlying health conditions are more susceptible to virus infection and have higher fatality rates.

Older persons living in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, must be fully protected from infection and adverse outcomes of COVID-19. Those living alone may face barriers to obtaining accurate information, food, medication, and other essential supplies during quarantine period.

Despite fast population aging and the number of people aged 65 and above making up 7.7 percent of the population, Vietnam is still one of the few countries effectively responding to the pandemic. To sustain this achievement, it should prepare all conditions necessary for ensuring social security and nursing services for the elderly, especially the ones living alone, at care centres, and with disabilities, the UNFPA said./.

Indonesia posts record number of COVID-19 cases

Indonesia confirmed 11,557 COVID-19 cases on January 14, the highest number to date, according to the country’s Health Ministry.

This brought up the national tally to 869,600, with the death toll adding by 295 to 25,246.

According to the ministry, 7,741 more patients were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recoveries from the coronavirus epidemic to 711,205.

The coronavirus has spread to all the country's 34 provinces.

The same day, the Philippines and Thailand posted the addition of 1,912 and 271 new cases, respectively.

Meanwhile, in Malaysia, given increasing number of daily cases and limited capacity of the health sector, the local health ministry has adjusted regulations on COVID-19 contact tracing and testing./.