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The truth about COVID-19 Patient 17 in Vietnam



While the international community recognises and highly values the COVID-19 prevention and control outcomes in Vietnam, 

as well as the Government’s efforts to minimise the pandemic’s impact on vulnerable groups, guarantee people’s right to medical treatment, and ensure no one is left behind, the story of the 17th patient infected with SARS-CoV-2 in Vietnam published on The New Yorker on September 21 has encountered public backlash due to its lack of objectivity.

The truth about COVID-19 Patient 17 in Vietnam hinh anh 1

A billboard sharing COVID-19 prevention measures on a street in Hanoi (Photo: VNA)

In an article entitled “The Public-Shaming Pandemic” of The New Yorker, Patient 17 and her sister were portrayed as victims of public humiliation.

The article wrote about those who accidentally spread the coronavirus and thus faced strong attacks and smearing in the internet.

Commenting on this article, most of Vietnamese internet users expressed their indignation at the wrong and insufficient information about Patient 17 provided in the article.

The so-called “the Vietnamese government, which regularly uses newspaper leaks to persuade or frighten its citizens…” in this article is inaccurate.

On the night of March 6, when learning about the first COVID-19 case in Hanoi, many people became anxious and frightened. At 10pm on that day, the city’s steering committee for COVID-19 prevention and control convened an urgent meeting to provide information about this case.

At the meeting, a 26-year-old woman living in Truc Bach ward of Hanoi’s Ba Dinh district was declared the 17th patient positive for the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The administration also announced that necessary measures had been carried out to cope with the situation and called on all people to stay calm and not panic. It also made public information about the outbreak’s developments to local residents.

The New Yorker’s report that “Within an hour of articles about the meeting being published, people on the Internet had figured out who Nhung (Patient 17) was and found her social-media accounts” is also not true.

Prior to the urgent meeting at 10pm of March 6, netizens had shared every personal information as well as social-media accounts of Patient 17 though such information had yet to be verified. Even many people having the same name with this woman also suffered from internet users’ criticism as they were mistaken for Patient 17.

Additionally, the article of The New Yorker lacked many important details.

While noting that “One user came across a photograph of a woman who looked like Nhung at the grand opening of a Uniqlo, and reposted the image on Instagram, announcing to her followers that Nhung was partying while sick,” it did not mention that then Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung told the press after the urgent meeting on March 6 that Patient 17 had not attended the opening of the Uniqlo shop in Hanoi as rumoured.

In addition, Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Vuong Dinh Hue also corrected fake news saying that Patient 17 had visited a bar on March 3 falling ill.

Hue also requested the police force to strictly punish those spreading fake news on the disease. “Cyber security should be controlled more closely. People should follow official information sources from the city, not fake news,” he suggested.

The New Yorker’s article also contained another incorrect detail when saying that “The Vietnamese government, clearly committed to making an example of Nhung, let it be known that when she flew home from London she did not mention her visit to Italy”.

According to the Noi Bai border gate police, Patient 17 had used a British passport to travel to European countries, but she used a Vietnamese passport to enter Vietnam on March 2.

The Noi Bai border gate police checked each page of her passport carefully, but did not detect any Italian entry-exit stamp. Along with making a false medical declaration, this woman was allowed to enter Vietnam without quarantine.

In addition, the article only mentioned that her aunt had been infected with the coronavirus from her, without providing additional information that her aunt may not survive if not receiving wholehearted treatment from Vietnamese doctors.

Amidst the dangerous COVID-19 pandemic, Patient 17 still concealed the fact that she had travelled to disease-hit areas in Europe to avoid being quarantined. The consequence of this act is that an entire street with more than 100 residents were quarantined for 14 days and had to receive supplies from the Government, and a private hospital which she came for check-ups was forced to close its door to ensure safety.

Although the right to privacy of each individual needs to be respected, it is not the reason for an individual to cause danger to the entire community. The right to privacy does not mean that social responsibility can be ignored. In addition, in this case, she also violated the law on infectious disease prevention and control.

No matter what the sisters said, the fact is they had been infected with the dangerous virus. Patient 17 was treated successfully by Vietnamese doctors, and she also acknowledged this fact and her family also showed their gratitude.

With an article which reported on Vietnam’s disease control process in an unconstructive way, The New Yorker ignored a fact that Vietnam – a middle-income country – has been fighting the disease efficiently despite a lack of resources. The newspaper also forgot differences in culture among nations./.VNA



Vietnam halts all inbound commercial flights



Vietnam halts all inbound commercial flights

A Vietnam Airlines aircraft after finishing a commercial flight bringing passengers from South Korea to Hanoi on September 25, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc has ordered a temporary halt to all inbound international commercial flights following Vietnam’s new Covid-19 community transmissions.

He said at a cabinet meeting Tuesday that only repatriation flights will be allowed to bring home Vietnamese citizens.

Mai Tien Dung, head of the government office, said the suspension aims to give Vietnam better control over the spread of infection and quarantining of arrivals.

“The government will still allow repatriation flights to bring home those who are really old, sick or facing financial issues,” Dung said.

On Monday, Vietnam’s 88-day streak without any community transmission was snapped when a man in Ho Chi Minh City was confirmed a Covid-19 patient after contracting the virus from his friend, a flight attendant.

After Vietnam halted all international flights from March 25 in an unprecedented move to stem the Covid-19 outbreak, the government green-lighted in September the resumption of commercial flights to seven Asian destinations – mainland China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. However, Vietnamese carriers have not yet been allowed to operate inbound flights while the government finalizes quarantine procedures for foreign passengers.

The PM asked for clarification on the irresponsibility that allowed the latest situation in HCMC.

He said the Ministry of Health and the city authorities have to make clear the responsibility of each individual and organization in the quarantine process of the Vietnam Airlines flight attendant, now “Patient 1342.”

Related agencies should also implement “stronger methods” in managing the quarantine process, the PM ordered.

The flight attendant, 28, had returned to Vietnam on November 14 and was quarantined for four days at a facility managed by Vietnam Airlines in HCMC. After two tests showed he was negative for the coronavirus, he was released from the facility and was asked to isolate himself at his home on Bach Dang Street, Ward 2, Tan Binh District.

The short-term quarantine is a preferential treatment granted only to flight attendants as per current Covid-19 prevention protocol to ensure availability of staff for subsequent flights. Under this protocol, the entire flight crew are quarantined in centralized camps when they return to Vietnam. They undergo two tests at least 72 hours in between. If the results of both tests are negative for the novel coronavirus, they are allowed to go home and self-quarantine themselves for 14 days.

However, “Patient 1342” came into contact with his mother and two friends, including a Vietnamese man working as an English teacher who came to stay with him for several days.

Fifteen days after he returned to Vietnam, on November 29, the flight attendant tested positive for the virus, and the very next day, his English teacher friend followed suit. The latter was tagged Monday as “Patient 1347.”

The teacher, a 32-year-old man living in District 6, has infected at least two others: a one-year-old nephew and a 28-year-old female student, confirmed Tuesday as patients 1349 and 1350.

At a municipal meeting held after the cabinet meeting, HCMC chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong asked related agencies to look into current regulations, especially the 2007 law on the prevention and control of infectious diseases, to handle violations by the flight attendant.

Nguyen Tan Binh, director of the city’s health department, said “Patient 1342” had not just violated rules of self-quarantine at home, but also at the centralized camp of Vietnam Airlines. He had intruded into the space of another flight crew and contracted the virus from another attendant who had been confirmed as “Patient 1325” on November 26.

“This demonstrates loose management of its quarantine facility by Vietnam Airlines,” Binh said.

Under the health ministry’s directions, the facility on Hong Ha Street in Tan Binh District has been suspended.


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Dong Thap flower, ornamental plant output surges



The Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap is expected to increase its flower and ornamental plant output to VND4.14 trillion (US$178 million) worth this year, up three times from 2015,  according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Dong Thap flower, ornamental plant output surges
Sa Dec Flower Village in Dong Thap Province’s Sa Dec City. — VNA/VNS Photos Nguyen Van Tri 

Farmers are expected to earn VND150 – 180 million ($6,400 – 7,300) per 1,000 square metres of growing them.

Dong Thap, one of the largest producers of flowers and ornamental plants in the delta, has zoned areas for them in Sa Dec City and the districts of Lai Vung, Lap Vo and Cao Lanh.

It has developed a model under which flowers and ornamental plants are grown in combination with tourism services, and is implemented very successfully in Sa Dec, its largest flower growing area.

The city has attracted more than three million tourists in the last five years, including 170,000 foreigners.

Nguyen Phuoc Loc, who owns a 2.5ha garden in its Tan Khanh Dong Commune, grows thousands of roses of more than 130 rose varieties and offers homestay services.

Guests could see some unique flowers, enjoy speciality foods and buy Dong Thap’s speciality souvenirs, he said.

The city has many flower gardens offering homestay services.

Nguyen Phuoc Thien, director of the department, said the province’s fresh flowers could be preserved for a long time and so have become popular.

The province plans to expand the area under flowers to 2,981ha and ornamental plants to 1,169ha by 2025, focusing on new varieties, especially popular ones, though it will also focus on preserving traditional varieties, according to the department.

Flowers and ornamental plants are one of its five key agricultural products under its restructuring plan. 

Tet flowers  

Farmers in Dong Thap are growing some three million pots of flowers and ornamental plants to sell during Tet (the Lunar New Year), which falls on February 12 next year.  

The province’s High-Tech Agriculture Application Centre produced disease-free seedlings of more than 100,000 varieties to supply to farmers.  

In Sa Dec, farmers are planting more new varieties of roses, daisies, yellow ochna flowers, and others.

Tran Van Tiep, chairman of the Tôi Yêu Màu Tím Clubhouse in Sa Dec’s Tan Quy Dong Commune, hopes to sell around 30,000 pots of flowers during Tet, 80 per cent of them being new varieties.

He travelled to many places to look for flowers that could grow well in the local soil, including new varieties of daisy, stone lotus and others, he said.

“The new flowers are … growing well.”

Members of the Sa Dec City Yellow Ochna Flower Club are growing around 100 bonsai trees for Tet.

Nguyen Hoang Tuan, its chairman, said the members searched for the yellow ochna flower trees in many places, and they had been growing them for many years in unique shapes. 

Nguyen Thi Ngoc, head of the Sa Dec Economic Bureau, said local farmers had found many new varieties to sell during Tet.

To support them, the bureau had trained them in new techniques in the context of climate change, she said.

The city helped co-operatives and co-operative groups implement models that produce flowers and ornamental plants that are disease free and of high quality, she said.

Dong Thap flower, ornamental plant output surges
Chrysanthemums grown for the upcoming Tet (Lunar New Year) in Dong Thap Province’s Sa Dec City.

It encouraged farmers to use organic fertilisers and pesticides, she said.   

“The city also helps farmers find outlets for flowers and ornamental plants.”

It has more than 2,500 varieties of flowers and ornamental plants and sells them to many provinces and cities, including HCM City.

It has nine companies and 12 co-operatives, co-operative groups and farmers’ clubhouses growing them.

It encourages farmers to expand the flowers-ornamental plants-tourism services combination.  VNS


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PM orders halt to commercial flights after new cases




The centralised quarantine site for Vietnam Airlines crew located in Ward 2, Tân Bình District is closed. VNA/ Photo

HCMC – Two more community infections of COVID-19 have been detected in HCM City, both connected to the teacher who broke Viet Nam’s three month run of no locally transmitted cases.

One is a 28-year-old woman who is a student of the patient, and the other is reported to be his 14-month old nephew.

Health Minister Nguyễn Thanh Long confirmed the new cases during a meeting on Tuesday.

The English teacher lives in Ward 3 of District 6 and had caught the virus from his friend, a flight attendant with Vietnam Airlines who had breached quarantine rules.

The pair of new cases both came into contact with the teacher, his student during classes he was taking and the toddler who was staying at his home.

All the new cases were confirmed positive after being taken into quarantine.

A number of other people who have come into close contact or secondary contact with the teacher have been tracked by the authorities, tested, and removed to quarantine facilities.

The teacher is a friend of a flight attendant from Vietnam Airlines who tested positive on Sunday. They came into contact when the attendant was under quarantine at a rented house.


Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc on Tuesday ordered clarification of responsibilities of those committing the violation.

He also ordered a temporary suspension of all commercial flights to Việt Nam. Repatriation flights will continue, but only for people in difficult situations and special cỉrcumstances. All repatriated passengers must undergo 14 days in quarantine.

The HCM City’s authorities on Tuesday closed a centralised quarantine site for Vietnam Airlines crew located in Ward 2, Tân Bình District.

All crew members being quarantined there have been moved to a different camp in Củ Chi District.

Two primary schools in District 6 were closed on Tuesday after four teachers became F1 and F2 of the community-transmitted case confirmed on Monday.

The city’s Disease Control Centre on Tuesday sent a notice asking people who went to places that Patient 1347 visited to report to local healthcare facilities and take the tests.

The places include Highlands Coffee at Vạn Hạnh Shopping Mall in District 10 from 8pm to 9pm on November 22; ICOOL karaoke bar at 120 Thành Thái Street, District 10 from 10pm to 12pm on November 23; a snail restaurant at 47 Công chúa Ngọc Hân, District 11 from 8pm to 10pm on November 25; CityGym at 119 Phổ Quang, Phú Nhuận District from 1pm to 5pm on November 18, 23, 24, 25 and 26; Key English centre at 59 Nguyễn Bá Tuyển, Tân Bình District from November 18 to 26; Key English centre at 285/24 Cách Mạng Tháng Tám, District 10 from November 18 to 27.

The city’s Disease Control Centre warned that those quarantined at home not to go out in unnecessary situations, limit contact with others and record daily activities in at least 28 days since they visited the above-mentioned places.

If there they show symptoms like fever, coughing or breathing difficulties, they must report to local healthcare facilities.

Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long warned the infection risk in Việt Nam always remained high, especially when the number of repatriation flights will increase during the holiday season.

The minister asked the national flag carrier to follow quarantine protocols at their registered sites and people’s committees of Hà Nội and HCM City where the airlines’ quarantine sites are located to supervise the process.

The minister also proposed not resuming commercial flights due to possible risks they might pose.

He said all Vietnamese nationals, even those on repatriation flights must have virus-free certificates to be qualified to enter the country.

He warned that people must continue to wear face masks, sanitise their hands, social distance, avoid crowds and fill in medical declarations.

Meanwhile, two more imported cases were detected on Tuesday evening. The men, aged 47 and 57, were both repatriated from Canada.






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