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Remote doctors aid COVID-19 patients during pandemic



A medical worker gives a COVID-19 injection to an elderly person at home in Cửa Đông Ward, Hoàn Kiếm District in Hà Nội. — VNA/ Photo Minh Quyết

HÀ NỘI — Remote medical guides for COVID-19 patients treating at home help people feel more secure, learn how to take medicine and overcome symptoms to get well soon.

Peace of mind

Đỗ Thùy Dương, who lives in Bạch Đằng Ward, Hai Bà Trưng District in Hà Nội, felt worried seeing her family members coughing with high temperatures, so she prepared quick tests and took samples of all of her family.

When Dương’s grandfather and niece tested positive for COVID-19, all of her family fell into panic.

Dương immediately called Dr Nguyễn Trung Nghĩa of the Việt Nam-Cuba Hospital to ask for help. The doctor was part of the system “Doctors accompanying and supporting COVID-19 patients.”

“When the doctor answered my phone and advised me, I felt much more secure in my mind. He carefully gave me guidance about medical declarations, medicines, quarantine and giving care to patients,” she said.

Dương called Nghĩa every day to report the patients’ situations, day and night. Every time, she received a quick, helpful consultation from the doctor.

Since December 31, Dương’s family have fought against the pandemic, quarantined and self-treated at home. Luckily, all of the patients in the family had light symptoms.

“Now all of my family have recovered. We are waiting for test results to confirm,” said Dương.

Nguyễn Thị Thanh Tâm, lives in Hàng Bột Ward in Đống Đa District, discovered her 80-year-old father suffered from COVID-19. She also called Dr Nghĩa for help. After receiving the doctor’s instruction, Tâm prepared the necessary tools and followed his advice.

“My father is old and has many underlying diseases such as cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure so I was very worried. Although he had received two doses of vaccine, he still had a runny nose and was coughing. I was very lucky to have the doctor’s phone number and receive guidance from him,” she said.

With careful instruction and mental reassurance, Tâm’s father gradually overcame the disease and no one else in her family was infected.

“Having a doctor to consult every day helps us feel secure while treating COVID-19 at home,” she said.

Dr Nghĩa said: “When receiving the calls asking for help, I saw that the patients and their family were in panic, and did not know how to treat and quarantine properly to prevent transmission. Thus the first thing I had to do was calm them down.”

As for patients treating at home, close supervision was needed though the symptoms were light, he said.

When someone needs help Nghĩa is ready to send them guidance, enthusiastically guiding patients regardless of if it is day or night.

“Mental reassurance for patients is very important, affecting their recovery process. Especially the use of drugs, most people do not know much about common drugs so can use them wrongly. I used to be startled when a patient sent me online prescriptions with many types of drugs, including anticoagulants, anti-inflammatory and antibiotics. If they don’t have doctor’s guidance, they just have medicines without understanding, and then consequences are dangerous,” he said.

Reduce severe cases

Returning from the working trip to support COVID-19 control in the southern province of Tiền Giang, Tô Hoàng Dương immediately joined the system “Doctors accompanying patients,” and the hotline 1022.

Tô Hoàng Dương, deputy head of the Intensive Care Ward of the Việt Nam Soviet Friendship Hospital, wanted to help COVID-19 patients treating at home.

Taking advantage of every minute, every hour besides his main work at the hospital, Tô Hoàng Dương has almost no time to rest. Monitoring and consulting three patients treating at home, his phone and Zalo application continuously receive calls and messages from patients.

“Patients need to be monitored, advised to treat themselves reasonably and use drugs properly, especially children and the elderly with underlying diseases,” said Tô Hoàng Dương.

Tô Hoàng Dương’s experience shows that right at the beginning of the disease there are no symptoms, and if the patients are well controlled with official advice from doctors, they can avoid unfortunate developments.

“For patients with mild or no symptoms, it is necessary to follow instructions and suitable meals. Patients with underlying diseases and the elderly should know how to control their underlying disease. Every stage that is closely supervised can reduce severe condition,” he said.

Tô Hoàng Dương feels tired but happy to accompany patients to recover from illness. Every day, when receiving a thank-you message from a patient who tested negative, Dương feels motivated to try to help more people.

With advice and remote companionship of doctors, many patients were able to safely receive treatment in the community. This also helped avoid overload at hospitals.

Doctors also recommend that home-treatment patients follow official information including instruction from the Ministry of Health, seek advice from medical staff, connect with hospitals, and use supportive networks such as hotline 1022. They should not use drugs on their own initiative. —



Plastic packaging a cause for concern in online shopping era in Vietnam



The trend of online food purchasing, which has prevailed since the COVID-19 outbreak, and the prevalent use of plastic packaging in retail are increasing plastic waste volume, potentially causing long-term health risks.

During the strict COVID-19 restrictions last year, 75 percent of people living in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City used online food delivery services, according to a survey of Q&Me, a market research firm.

Such food is usually packed in boxes made of plastic that accounted for 64 percent of the total volume of materials used for the food packaging industry.

Many vendors prefer using plastic bags to contain various items sold online and at bricks-and-mortar shops.

ProCi Food, a Ho Chi Minh City-based non-profit social project, and some other eco-friendly businesses, like Phu Yen Province-based Tuy An Farm, have called on their customers to send back packaging to them so that they can return it to manufacturers for processing and reuse.

Some online grocery stores, such as ‘Sap Chang Sen’ in Hanoi, have also applied the same practice to minimize plastic waste. 

Kafka Bookstores in Ho Chi Minh City and Stars Bookstore Company Limited in the capital have shared with their customers solutions for reducing waste from packaging and softening environmental impacts from their business operations.

Consumers can make online shopping ‘greener’ by including multiple items in one purchase order and by requesting sellers to use packing methods that help cut down on plastic packaging waste.

In developed countries, major e-commercial sites have made changes to packages to both facilitate buyers and lessen damage to the environment.

Amazon, for example, has turned to packets made from recyclable materials.

Manufacturers should work with retailers to have their goods shipped to online buyers in the original packaging, instead of using any additional one.

Suppliers and transporters should use linings made from eco-friendly materials instead of shock-absorbing films made of plastic.

Very little of the plastic people discard every day is recycled or incinerated in waste-to-energy facilities, but much of it ends up in landfills where it may take up to 1,000 years to decompose, leaking potentially toxic substances to soil and water, according to the United Nations Environment Program.

People eat, drink, and breathe micro-plastics every day, and these small plastic particles may be detrimental to human health once they have entered the body, according the Plastic Health Coalition (PHC), under the Netherlands-based Plastic Soup Foundation, a non-profit organization aiming to educate the public about plastic waste harm.

Plastic products contain chemical additives, some of which are associated with serious health problems such as hormone-related cancers, infertility, and neurodevelopment disorders like ADHD and autism, PHC said.

When plastics and micro-plastics end up in the environment, they attract micro-organisms, such as harmful bacteria, and if micro-plastics containing these pathogens penetrate the body, they may increase the risk of infection, the coalition warned.

Health experts emphasized that long-term usage and exposure of plastics and plastic products to high temperature can lead to leaking of toxic chemical constituents into food, drinks, and water.

Indiscriminate disposal of plastics on land and open-air burning can result in the release of harmful chemicals into the air, causing public health hazards, experts said.

Supermarkets and trade centers in Vietnam will be fined for distributing disposable plastic bags to customers from 2026, the Vietnam News Agency quoted an environment official as saying at a seminar held last month on reduction in the consumption of single-use plastic bags in Vietnam.

The official, Nguyen Trung Thang, deputy director of the Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment, under the Department of Industry and Trade of Hanoi, said that Vietnam had issued various legal documents to control serious risks of plastic waste to the environment.

The country also strives to use 100 percent of environmentally-friendly bags at shopping centers and supermarkets by 2025.

“From 2026, supermarkets and trade centers will be fined for providing disposable plastic bags for customers,” Thang said.

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Vietnamese ministries seek feedback on project linking Con Dao with national grid through submarine cables



Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade and Ministry of Planning and Investment are asking relevant agencies if they have any feedback on the Vietnam Electricity Corporation (EVN)’s plan to expand the national grid from the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang to southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province’s Con Dao Island via submarine cables.

Electricity demand on Con Dao, which is an increasingly popular tourist destination around 180 kilometers off Ba Ria-Vung Tau, has been on the rise.

The load forecast for the southern island in 2025 is 28.7 MW, 87.6 MW in 2030, and 94 MW in 2035, according to EVN.

Meanwhile, the two diesel-fired power plants on the island have a combined capacity of just 12 MW, which is seven MW lower than existing demand. 

Therefore, EVN proposed a project bringing electricity from the national grid in Soc Trang to Con Dao through submarine cables, which the power corporation believes to be much more stable than other forms of power supply and also minimize the impact on the island’s environment and ecology.

The project is set to start at Soc Trang Province, with the construction of 102.5 kilometers of submarine 110kV lines, featuring 6.1 kilometers of underground 110kV cables. 

It is expected to cost VND4.9 trillion (US$211.2 million), including VND2.5 trillion ($107.7 million) from the state budget.

The electricity retail price on Con Dao upon the completion of the project is estimated at VND2,429.6 ($0.1) per kWh. 

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Vietnam’s child labor rate lower than Asia-Pacific average: official



Vietnam’s rate of child labor is 9.1 percent, around two percentage points lower than the average in the Asia-Pacific region, an official told a workshop held in observance of World Day Against Child Labor 2022 (June 12) on Friday.

The 9.1 percent equates to more than one million children in the 5-17 age group engaging in labor, Deputy Minister of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs Nguyen Thi Ha cited results of a survey done in 2018 by her ministry, the General Statistics Office, and the International Labor Organization (ILO).

The country’s child labor rate has been on the decline since 2012, when it was 15.5 percent, according to Ha.

However, the issue has lingered and tends to take place in informal fields, such as household enterprises and manufacturing and production supply chains, which makes it difficult to detect.

Therefore, the Vietnamese government has sped up multiple efforts to end child labor in all its forms, Ha emphasized.

In contrast with the Vietnamese trend, the global child labor rate has been on the rise due to the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Ingrid Christensen, director of ILO Vietnam.

About 160 million children, nearly ten percent of the earth’s total number of kids, are currently victims of child labor, Christensen said.

The director advised that Vietnam should step up poverty reduction programs and policies, increase vocational training opportunities for children, especially in rural areas, invest in a child protection system, and improve household livelihoods as a way to prevent child labor, contributing to lowering the global child labor rate.

Meanwhile, many enterprise representatives, who attended Friday’s workshop, suggested imposing heavy sanctions and even criminal punishments on child labor violators.

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