COVID-19 has yet to become an endemic illness and will not be downgraded from an ‘especially dangerous’ infectious disease to a lower level despite the declining number of infections, according to the latest announcement by the Vietnamese Ministry of Health.
Although the disease’s mortality rate recorded across Vietnam sharply decreased to 0.06 percent in May from 1.03 percent in January, it has yet to reach zero while many serious cases are still being monitored and treated, the ministry noted.
Vietnam has recorded a total of five variants of the coronavirus since December 2019 while the Omicron variant has mutated into five sub-variants within the past six months, implying the emergence of a new lineage that can potentially cause a surge in infections and mortalities due to their ability to dodge immunity.
Therefore, the ministry decided not to lower the severity classification of COVID-19 from an ‘especially dangerous’ infectious disease to a ‘dangerous’ one at present.
In addition, the national health administration mentioned the complexity of the downgrading procedure, which can cause difficulty to the pandemic prevention and control work in case of a new outbreak, as another reason to maintain the respiratory disease’s classification.
The ministry also underscored in its announcement that COVID-19 has yet to be considered an endemic illness because its incidence remains unstable and unpredictable.
It cited South Africa and the U.S. as two examples, which saw a downward trend in infections for two months before the rate increased again at the beginning of May due to the circulation of BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants and with no signs of slowing down.
Acquired immunity thanks to vaccination and infection is also expected to wane over time.
More time is thus needed to monitor and evaluate the stability as well as the change of the pathogen, the ministry said.
The announcement of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam will only be considered in the wake of a formal declaration by the World Health Organization and the continuous control of outbreaks in the country, it added.
The ministry also said that it prepared two approaches of either strengthening or easing COVID-19 prevention measures based on the incidence and mortality rate of the disease from now through 2023.
The body confirmed an additional 637 COVID-19 cases on Monday, raising Vietnam’s coronavirus patient tally to 10,744,085.
The same day, there were 6,653 recoveries, taking the total number of recovered cases to 9,653,650, said the ministry.
Among the current positive cases, only 16 are critically ill, the lowest number over the past 12 months.
The nation has administered 229,854,734 COVID-19 vaccine doses to its 100-million-strong population.
Northern Vietnamese provinces seek approval for construction of airports
Authorities in Lai Chau and Son La Provinces, northern Vietnam are seeking the prime minister’s approval for the construction of airports there.
In a document sent to PM Pham Minh Chinh, the Lai Chau People’s Committee mentioned its plan to build Lai Chau Airport, which is designed to cover 167 hectares and have the capacity of 500,000 passengers per year, in Tan Uyen Town during the 2022-30 period.
The administration stressed that the project plays an important role in promoting the province’s socio-economic development as well as contributes to ensuring national defense and security in border areas.
The province has carried out necessary land use planning and site clearance to attract the interest of investors in the project.
Some investors are mulling over implementing the project under the public-private partnership (PPP) model.
PPP involves a contract between a public sector authority and a private party, in which the private party provides a public service or project and assumes financial, technical, and operational risk in the project.
In order to ensure the legal basis and favorable conditions for the construction of the airport, the Lai Chau People’s Committee requested the prime minister to give the green light to the project and authorize the administration to initiate it.
The Son La People’s Committee has also submitted a document to the premier to seek approval for the construction of Na San Airport under the PPP model.
The airdrome is expected to have the capacity of one million passengers by 2030.
The provincial administration previously coordinated with relevant sectors to study the possibility of building the airport with the state budget or capital of the Airports Corporation of Vietnam, but both options were deemed to be very challenging.
The province thus considered using resources from the private sector.
In May 2021, Him Lam JSC suggested a plan to build the airdrome under the PPP model.
During the first phase, Na San Airport is expected to handle up to one million passengers and 350 metric tons of cargo a year, with the cost of the construction estimated at VND2.56 trillion (US$109.4 million).
In the second phase, an expansion costing VND468 billion ($20 million) will be carried out, and the airport capacity will increase to two million passengers a year.
The construction of Na Sa Airport is expected to run from the third quarter of 2023 to the fourth quarter of 2025.
Low-cost meals for the underprivileged in Ho Chi Minh City
Budget eateries offering each meal at a mere VND1,000 (US$0.04), VND5,000 ($21), or for free in Ho Chi Minh City are warming the hearts of low-income workers and disadvantaged people amid surging goods prices.
Situated at 317 Trung My Tay 13 Street in District 12, Ho Chi Minh City, the eatery run by Tran Thi Dung and her husband serves offal porridge for disabled and elderly people and lottery ticket vendors.
Tran Thi Dung recounted that three years ago, her husband was severely injured in a traffic accident so she took him to their hometown for care and treatment.
When he was in good health again, they returned to the city to do business.
The couple decided to open a low-cost eatery as a way to lend a helping hand to the underprivileged.
“We charge no money to customers who are disabled and sell lottery tickets, but some still pay VND5,000 for their meal as they don’t want to be indebted to anyone.
“Receiving their thanks for our acts makes me happy and indefatigable.”
Another charity venue at 61 Nguyen Chi Thanh Street in District 11 is serving vegetarian dishes at VND5,000 each.
The eatery owned by Tran Phuoc Hoa is a popular haunt of the disadvantaged people in the city.
Sometimes, philanthropists give financial support to the eatery, so it not only charges no money to poor people but also launches a ‘Buy One Get One Free’ program.
“I opened the vegan eatery in 2013 with an aim to share the hardship with the poor and encourage them to choose a vegan lifestyle,” Hoa said.
“High- or medium-income customers can pay the same price for their meal, while dishes are given to the poor free of charge.”
He strongly believed that he would receive luck and happiness in return for his kindness.
Nguyen Van Phuoc, who resides in Binh Tan District and has worked as a motorbike taxi driver for 30 years, said, “I have been a loyal customer of the VND5,000 vegan eatery for a long time.
“Dishes are changed every day.
“Having meals there helps me save a lot of money for supporting my family amid soaring prices.”
Sitting in Alley 221/10 on Phan Van Khoe Street in District 6, the VND1,000 porridge eatery called ‘Come Here,’ which is run by Thai Cong Minh and his wife, is also a charitable site for students and low-income laborers.
“I have sold porridge for 20 years,” Minh said.
“The eatery is open from 3:30 am to 8:00 pm each day.
“Each ladle of porridge costs VND1,000, while the prices of side dishes range from VND3,000 to VND5,000.
“The eatery mainly serves poor people and low-income workers such as lottery ticket sellers, so I will not spike the prices at this time to retain customers and partially support them amid this ‘price storm.’”
|Free or VND5,000 bowls of porridge warm the hearts of the disadvantaged in Ho Chi Minh City amid rising goods prices. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tien Phong|
|Tran Phuoc Hoa’s VND5,000 vegan eatery, which offers takeout, is a popular haunt of poor people in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tien Phong|
|At budget eateries, customers with high or low income can pay the same price. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tien Phong|
|Nguyen Van Phuoc, who lives in Binh Tan District, Ho Chi Minh City and has worked as a motorbike taxi driver for 30 years, is one of the VND5,000 vegan eatery’s loyal customers. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tien Phong|
|The porridge eatery named ‘Come Here’ owned by Thai Cong Minh in District 6, Ho Chi Minh City charges VND1,000 per ladle amid the current ‘price storm.’ Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tien Phong|
|Apart from porridge as the main dish, Thai Cong Minh’s eatery also serves side dishes such as radish stir-fried with pickles and fish sauce, dried fish, Vietnamese caramelized fish sauce dip, and salted eggs. Photo: Ngoc Phuong/ Tien Phong|
Vietnam’s tank team competes in International Army Games in Russia
Vietnam competed in the qualifying round of the tank biathlon category within the framework of the International Army Games 2022 in Moskva, Russia on Saturday, the Vietnam News Agency reported.
This year’s tank biathlon event attracts the participation of 61 crews of 21 teams, divided into two groups.
The first group consists of teams from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Venezuela, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, China, Uzbekistan, and Mongolia, while the second is comprised of Abkhazia, Armenia, Zimbabwe, Iran, Laos, Mali, Myanmar, Syria, Sudan, Tajikistan, and South Ossetia.
Teams in Group 1 will compete in the qualifying round to select the top eight to enter the semi-final round and then the best four for the final round.
Meanwhile, those in Group 2 will only join a round-robin format.
Crew No.1 of the Vietnamese tank team completed their task on Saturday, destroying four targets out of five and finishing the race after 34 minutes 53 seconds.
Meanwhile, crews from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan annihilate all five targets and finished the race after 25 minutes 57 seconds, and 25 minutes and 18 seconds, respectively.
The Venezuelan rivals destroyed only one target and finished their competition after 47 minutes 5 seconds.
Crews No. 2 and 3 of the Vietnamese tank team will compete on August 16 and 20.
First held in 2015, the International Army Games are an annual Russian military sports event organized by the Ministry of Defense of Russia.
This year’s edition will run from August 13 to 27 at the military training grounds in twelve countries: Russia, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Armenia, Belarus, Venezuela, Vietnam, Iran, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and Uzbekistan.
More than 260 teams from 35 countries join the 2022 Games.
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