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Returning the favor: Central Vietnam residents make efforts to take care of aid missions



Central Vietnam residents, namely homeowners, repair technicians, and coffee shop owners, are helping aid missions reach their destination safe and sound as a way to pay tribute in the wake of devastating floods this month.

As prolonged flooding has wreaked havoc on central Vietnam in the past two weeks, droves of trucks outfitted with philanthropic statements are heading there with aid packages.

As concerns of lodging and catering for these aid mission emerge, local resident Le Huu Thao from Yen Hoa Commune, Cam Xuyen District, Ha Tinh Province has stepped up to organize free services for the benefactors.

“I myself have joined many charity trips to aid flood-hit residential areas such as Huong Khe, Vu Quang, Huong Son, Duc Tho [Districts of Ha Tinh Province] before,” Thao told the story that inspired his initiative, which received immense support from people in his commune.

“During those trips, the charity groups had to travel great lengths to find dining places.”

As Yen Hoa did not face flooding as harsh as neighboring Cam Due, Cam Vinh or Cam Thanh Commune did, a makeshift kitchen was quickly set up at the home of the commune’s leader Nguyen Thi Duong to prepare food for aid missions working in the locale.

It operates on manpower and food donations from local farmers.

By midday, a cohort of 20 benefactors arrived at the makeshift eatery after their charity work in flood-hit Tan Ky District of Nghe An Province.

“[We only served] a meager lunch with blanched veggies and fried eggs, yet everyone felt joyful,” Duong said.

Pham Cao Hanh, leader of the charity mission in Tan Ky District, did not expect to enjoy well-prepared meals from the locals on his trip.

“I thoroughly appreciate the magnanimous gesture from the people in flood-struck areas,” he said.

Other people in Ha Tinh also used their means to take care of the charitable patrons.

Nguyen Hang Nga, a 36-year-old in Van Yen Ward of Ha Tinh City – the capital of the namesake province – hangs a sign that says, “Cordially welcoming all charity groups with no charge,” in front of her coffee shop, which is still strewn with rubble from the floods.

Suffering from property damage themselves, Nga and her husbands did not hesitate to clean up and offer their place as a stop for benefactors on charitable journeys.

“We treasure the goodwill of people from other provinces to help [local] residents overcome the flood’s consequences, which is why we wish to contribute and return the favor,” Nga said.

Paying it forward

These days saw the bike repair shop of Tran Van Binh in Cam Vinh Commune of Cam Xuyen District crowded with locals looking to get their bikes repaired in the aftermath of the floods.

After each vehicle is cleaned, the repair crew at Binh’s shop will check it, tidy its spark plug, and change its oil – all for free.

Free bike repair service is offered at a repair shop in Ha Tinh Province. Photo: Doan Hoa / Tuoi Tre

Free bike repair service is offered at a repair shop in Ha Tinh Province. Photo: Doan Hoa / Tuoi Tre

Binh recounted seeing many households and their bikes stuck in floodwaters in the past few days, which motivated him to use his expertise in repairing bikes to alleviate the post-flood burden on the community.

The shop owner and his crew were joined by over 30 other technicians from other parts of Ha Tinh Province to become a traveling repair team touring inundated areas to provide free service.

Arriving from 100 kilometers away, 47-year-old Nguyen Khac Niem from Duc Huong Commune of Vu Quang District volunteers as part of the repair team.

“Through the media, I was informed that people in flooded areas are suffering huge losses of possessions. Since I can’t contribute [money], I chose to devote my work to helping them,” he said.

Tran Quoc Toan, chairman of the Tran Phu Ward People’s Committee under Ha Tinh City, revealed that various hotels and motels in the area have welcome affected residents to take shelter and dine for free, which was of great help to authorities’ effort in assisting flood-hit communities.

“Their room was priced at VND400,000-800,000 [US$17-35] per day, yet they opened their doors for locals to stay for free,” Toan elaborated.

“Despite their own hardship after the COVID-19 pandemic, these hotels also offered 50 percent discounts to benefactors on aid missions in Ha Tinh.”

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US to resume tourist visa appointments in Vietnam



US to resume tourist visa appointments in Vietnam

A B1/B2 U.S. visa. Illustration photo by Shutterstock.

The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi and Consulate General in HCMC would open appointments for B1/B2 visas starting next week, following a nine-month suspension due to Covid-19.

B1/B2 temporary visitor visa appointment slots would be opened starting December 7 and December 9 respectively, the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi announced Thursday. The visa is for short-term visitors who have a need to travel to the U.S. for business or pleasure purposes, it said.

People are required to wear masks upon visiting the embassy and consulate. Those feeling ill or believing they were exposed to Covid-19 must postpone or reschedule their appointments for at least 14 days later.

In July, the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi and Consulate in HCMC resumed interviews for certain visa categories for students, doctors, government guests, professors, scholars, specialists, traders and investors, shipping or international airline crews in the U.S., media representatives and journalists, athletes, artists and entertainers.

The U.S. suspended all visa services in Vietnam late March as a protective measure against Covid-19.

Vietnam has recorded 1,358 Covid-19 cases so far, 119 still active. Thirty-five have died, many being elderly patients with underlying conditions like diabetes or kidney failure.

A 32-year-old man broke Vietnam’s 88-day streak of no community transmissions after being confirmed Covid-19 positive in HCMC on Monday. At least two other community transmissions followed: the man’s one-year-old nephew and a 28-year-old student of his English class.

Vietnam has halted all inbound international commercial flights following its latest Covid-19 community transmission cases.

Meanwhile, the U.S. remains the world’s biggest coronavirus hotspot, with over 14.3 million cases recorded and over 279,000 deaths.


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Over 2,240 tested for COVID-19 after local infections detected in Ho Chi Minh City



Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have conducted COVID-19 tests on more than 2,240 people linked to four recent domestic infections.

As of Thursday morning, a total of 2,244 people in contact with patients 1,342, 1,347, 1,348, and 1,349 had been tested for the novel coronavirus, Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Nguyen Van Nen said at a meeting the same day.

Among them, 1,632 have tested negative for the novel coronavirus once.

The remaining 612 people, including 11 F1 individuals – people who had direct contact with positive COVID-19 cases – are still waiting for results.

The most important task is to promptly and accurately track and quarantine all people who had contact with the patients in order to prevent the disease from spreading further into the community, the official remarked.

Patient 1,342, a 28-year-old flight attendant of national carrier Vietnam Airlines, returned from Japan on November 14, and came into contact with his colleague, patient 1,325, at the airline’s quarantine facility during his stay from November 14 to 18.

After his first two tests returned negative for COVID-19, he was allowed to go home to continue his self-quarantine period, during which he had contact with three people, including his mother, a male friend, and a female friend, at his rented house.

The male friend, a 32-year-old resident in District 6, was later confirmed as patient 1,347.

He had taught English at two branches of KEY English Center prior to his diagnosis.

Two people have caught the virus from him as of Thursday.

Patient 1,348 is a one-year-old infant, whose parents had asked patient 1,347 to look after him.

Patient 1,349 is a 28-year-old woman who previously attended English classes taught by patient 1,347.

Vietnam has recorded 1,358 coronavirus patients as of Thursday morning, with 1,201 recoveries and 35 virus-related deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.

Before the detection of patient 1,347, the country had gone 88 days with zero domestic infections.

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New climate change action plan maps out most vulnerable neighborhoods in Ho Chi Minh City



District 12, Thu Duc District, Nha Be District, and Binh Chanh District have been named as the neighborhoods most susceptible to natural disasters in Ho Chi Minh City.

The finding was detailed in Ho Chi Minh City’s Action Plan on Climate Change for 2021-30 with a vision to 2050.

According to Bui Chi Nam from the Sub-Institute of Hydrometeorology and Climate Change (SIHYMECC) under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the impacts of climate change will likely be felt most in Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Chanh, Cu Chi, Binh Thanh, Thu Duc, and Go Vap Districts, as well as District 12. 

The report also noted Thu Duc and Cu Chi’s high adaptability to climate change will likely allow them to cope with climate-related dangers.

Le Anh Ngoc, an associate at SIHYMECC, shared several climate change scenarios for Ho Chi Minh City, with most involving steep increases in temperature and precipitation in the coming years that would likely hit the city’s northwestern to southeastern areas hardest.

Despite the city’s current flood control infrastructure, around 134,840 hectares of Ho Chi Minh City is projected to become inundated in the near future due to rising sea levels and other climate change hazards. 

This phenomenon is already being recorded across the city during the Saigon River’s high tides.

Tide levels in the city hit a new record in 2019, with Nha Be Station documenting water levels at 1.8 meters and Phu An Station at 1.7 meters during peak tides.

Saltwater intrusion is also continuing to move further upstream on the Saigon River, endangering the supply of fresh water for city residents.

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