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Top US health official Fauci warns of ‘disturbing’ new US surge

They also told US lawmakers that they had never been asked to slow testing for coronavirus.

America’s top infectious disease expert has told lawmakers that the US is seeing a “disturbing surge” in coronavirus infections in some states.

A panel of health officials, including Dr Anthony Fauci, said the next few days will be crucial to stem the new outbreaks.

Cases are climbing rapidly across a number of US states.

The four top experts also testified they were never told by President Donald Trump to “slow down” testing.

Their comments come after Mr Trump told a weekend rally in Oklahoma that he had asked his team to do less testing to help keep official case counts down. 

“To my knowledge, none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing,” Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified to a congressional committee investigating the US response to the pandemic.

“In fact, we will be doing more testing,” he added.

The other three officials – representing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services – also disputed Mr Trump’s comment, saying they had never been directed to slow testing.

Brett Giroir, the health department assistant secretary who oversees US diagnostic capacity, told lawmakers he expects the US will be able to conduct 40 to 50 million tests per month by autumn.

What did Trump say?

The White House has said the president’s comment about slowing testing was “in jest”. But on Tuesday the president appeared to contradict that, telling reporters: “I don’t kid.”

About 2.3 million Americans have been infected with coronavirus and at least 120,000 have died – more than any other nation.

But Mr Trump told a campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona, later in the day that the coronavirus “plague” was “going away”.

The president once again referred to the virus as the “kung flu”, which the White House denies is a racist term.

Arizona, where the president addressed a megachurch on Tuesday, surpassed its daily record for new infections only hours before he arrived.

Officials there warn that over 80% of hospital beds are currently being used, and that the healthcare system may be overrun in the coming days or weeks.

What else did experts say?

Dr Fauci warned of “a disturbing surge of infection” and “increased community spread” in many southern and western states.

“A couple of days ago there were 30,000 new infections” in a single day, he said. “That’s very troubling to me.”

“The next couple of weeks are going to be critical to address those surges that we’re seeing in Texas, Florida, Arizona, and other states.”

CDC Director Dr Robert Redfield called testing “a critical underpinning of our response”, but said social distancing measures are more effective at keeping the virus from spreading.

Dr Redfield also called on all Americans to get a flu jab this year, saying the public must “embrace flu vaccinations with confidence”.

“This single act will save lives,” he added.

Dr Fauci added that he is “cautiously optimistic” a vaccine may be ready by the end of 2020.

He said it is a matter of “when and not if” the vaccine is ready, but added that it “might take some time”.

Drug company Moderna has plans “to launch a Phase 3 clinical trial as early as July 2020, pending positive results from this Phase 2 trial”, he said.

Dr Fauci also defended his decision not to warn Americans to start wearing masks earlier, saying it was due to a scarcity at the time of personal protective equipment, or PPE, which was needed for healthcare providers.

Several cities and counties have issued new mask requirements in the past week.

“Plan A: Don’t go in a crowd. Plan B: If you do, make sure you wear a mask,” Dr Fauci told the committee.

Where else is the virus surging?

The number of new daily infections is increasing in more than half of all US states.

Along with Arizona, Nevada and Texas have also just notched up single-day records for new coronavirus cases.

Other states, including California, South Carolina, Utah, Mississippi and Louisiana, have seen a surge in caseload.

Some governors have said they may be forced to announce new lockdown measures.

On Monday, Florida surpassed 100,000 cases. In the absence of a state-wide mask requirement, several cities and towns have issued their own orders mandating masks in public.

Texas has temporarily revoked alcohol licences from several businesses that were breaking social distancing rules.

The governor of Washington on Tuesday ordered residents to wear face masks in public after the north-western US state saw its positive tests rise by 35% last week. BBC



Red River flood diversion needs special treatment

Architect Dao Ngoc Nghiem, Vice President of the Vietnam Urban Development and Planning Association, talks on the need to grant a special policy for Hanoi on flood diversion on the Red River.

Red River flood diversion needs special treatment
Architect Dao Ngoc Nghiem. — Photo

When did the study planning the Hong (Red) River banks start?

The portion of the Red River that runs through Hanoi has a total length of about 130km. For ages, people have lived on both sides of the Red River. In the 1998 Hanoi’s master development plan, city authorities adopted a decision to develop the city along the banks of the Red River, in which the Red River would become an axis in the city’s course of urban development.

To implement the Prime Minister’s Decision 1259, in 2012, Hanoi authorities approved the planning design for areas along the two sides of the Red River. And in the last three years, the Hanoi Construction Planning Institute has developed a planning map for the development of the Red River. However, until now such an architectural design and other ideas on the development plan of the Red River banks remain on paper.

Why? What has caused the delay for the approval of the plan?

A very important requirement in the planning of the Red River banks is to develop an important axis space for Hanoi to ensure urban areas continue to develop, yet still make the best use of available land and protect Hanoi’s inner city from flooding.

However, the idea of developing the land outside of the river dyke must adhere to the Vietnamese 2006 Law on Dyke Management and the Government Decree 113 which was issued on June 28, 2007 on the master planning of dykes along the Red River and the Thai Binh River. However, until now Hanoi and Thai Binh authorities have not yet got their master plan on anti-flood ready for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to approve. That’s why the plan on zoning the Red River remains on paper.

Can you explain more about the development plan for the two sides of the Red River?

By now there are quite a few proposals on the planning of the Red River at different scopes and scales. For example, in 1996, a Singaporean investor came up with a proposal to develop a big and modern urban area in An Duong area which is located on one side of the Red River dyke. According to the Singaporean proposal, the area would be modelled on an urban area in Singapore. Then in 2005, American Indochina Land Corporation came up with a proposal to build a science hub in the An Duong area.

In 2004, another project which was named HAIDEP – a joint venture between Vietnam and Japan, also came up with a proposal to build cities along the banks of the Red River.

In 2006, Hanoi and Seoul authorities signed a mutual agreement on co-operation in the development of the River dyke portion which run through Hanoi.

In 2017, quite a few big Vietnamese economic groups, including Sun Group, Vingroup and Geleximco and others also came up with proposals to financially sponsor the planning study, particularly the harness of the Red River and the transportation activities along the Red River. Adding to that, Hanoi authorities have also adopted a plan to assign the Hanoi Institute of Construction and Planning to work with Sun Group, Vingroup and Geleximco to study developing urban areas along a portion of the Red River which runs through Hanoi.

What are the challenges in the development of the portion of the Red River which runs through Hanoi?

The biggest challenge is how to calculate the stability of the flood diversion and the dyke system for Hanoi. To do that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should develop a plan on the flood discharge for the Red River as well as the whole dyke system that runs through Hanoi.

Furthermore, Hanoi should adopt a detailed plan on the development of the banks of the Red River. And of course, to do that Hanoi should also adopt a preferential policy to turn ideas into life.  VNS

Hanoi rekindles riverside megacity project along the Red River

Hanoi seeks ideas to develop Red River banks

RoK to help Hanoi plan development


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Students change study abroad plans because of Covid-19, new policies

The Covid-19 pandemic and new policies applied by countries receiving foreign students have changed Vietnamese students’ study abroad plans.

Duong Thi Hoai Chan, a parent in HCM City, decided to cancel the plan to send her son abroad to university this year.

Students change study abroad plans because of Covid-19, new policies

The son is studying at an international school in Vietnam, which belongs to a pilot project implemented by the HCM City Education and Training Department and the Australian Ministry of Education.

The students are following an Australian curriculum, under which the new academic year begins in January and finishes in November.

Chan initially decided that her son would go abroad to follow university education in Australia or Canada, the countries which allow admissions in January. However, as the epidemic is escalating and online learning is still maintained in Australia and Canada, Chan has reconsidered her decision.

The Covid-19 pandemic and new policies applied by countries receiving foreign students have changed Vietnamese students’ study abroad plans.

Since the son will finish high school in November, he won’t be able to enroll in universities which begin new academic years in September.

Therefore, Chan is considering opportunities to study finance under foreign curricula at the Vietnam-Germany International University (a member of HCM City National University) and the International School of Business-ISB (a member school of the HCM City Economics University) and some other schools.

She also is considering the 2+2 or 2+1 training models, i.e. two-year study in Vietnam and another one or two years in foreign countries.

However, the son wants to study medicine or life-related sciences, while these schools have advantages in economics majors.

Chan admitted that she considers ‘non-traditional choices’ for her son. And if the son wants a gap year, she will support his idea. During the gap year, she will encourage him to go to vocational schools or go to Israel to study.

The parent said, due to Covid-19, she has had more time to understand what her son wants and where he wants to study. Covid-19 has made her understand that one needs to be very flexible to adapt to all changes in their lives.

Tran Manh Hung, a parent in Lam Dong province, has two daughters who were initially planning to go to Australia to study arts and design. However, because of Covid-19, they will stay in Vietnam and study at domestic schools.

While the elder sister will study design at an international school, the younger sister has chosen HCM City Architecture University.

Le Thi Linh from International School of Business said the number of students asking for information about international training programs at the school is higher this year. She estimates that the number of applications is 50 percent higher than the previous year.

Le Ha 


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Woman becomes mother after 20 years of infertility

Nguyễn Thị Minh and her husband hold their nine-month-old son in their arms at an event in Hà Nội in July. —VNA/ Photo Thùy Giang

HÀ NỘI — Nguyễn Thị Minh, 43, holds her nine-month-old son in her arms with the great happiness of a mother.

Minh finally fell pregnant when she was 42 years old thanks to in vitro fertilisation (IVF) after experiencing a 20-year journey with her husband seeking to become a mother.

Minh married her husband in 2000. She had an ectopic pregnancy twice and had to have a fallopian tube cut. She was also diagnosed with endometriosis.

This meant the couple had yet to have a baby after eight years of marriage although they went to many major hospitals in Hà Nội for treatment.

The couple then decided to use all their savings and borrow money from their relatives for IVF for the first time in 2008. However, the treatment failed.

They ran out of money due to medical expenses, so her husband decided to work abroad to earn money to cover the debt.

In 2018, her husband returned to Việt Nam after a decade of working. But he did not think of doing IVF again and he feared a second failure.

“However, I still wanted to have one more chance, I still really wanted to become a mother,” Minh said.

She persuaded her husband and the couple went to Andrology and Fertility Hospital of Hà Nội in November 2018 for another chance.

Two months later, Minh was eager for the first embryo transfer.

On the day to transfer the first embryo, Lê Thị Thu Hiền, deputy director of the hospital advised Minh to carefully consider because Minh’s endometrium was in bad conditions and it would be difficult to conceive.

Minh hesitated, but her husband encouraged her and said she should try, so she agreed.

Six days later, Minh burst into tears when she saw the home pregnancy test showed two faint lines.

She immediately went to a hospital for a blood test and the result confirmed she was pregnant.

“No word can describe my happiness at that moment,” she said.

Minh was often threatened with miscarriage during her pregnancy. She also suffered gestational diabetes until the 39th week of pregnancy.

“I cried a lot because of fear, the fear of losing my baby,” she said.

But her husband kept encouraging her.

“We together cried with happiness when our healthy son was born,” she said.

Hope for infertile couples

Nguyễn Khắc Lợi, director of the hospital said the Department of Reproductive Support, had successfully carried out IVF for thousands of couples in the past eight years, including many difficult cases.

Lợi said modern reproductive technologies, especially IVF technology with other supporting methods, had helped many infertile couples in Việt Nam have healthy babies.

The success rate for IVF treatment increases year after year and is currently about 50 – 70 per cent, he said.

Hiền, deputy director of the hospital, gave an example that the hospital conducted IVF for a couple in Sóc Sơn District in 2018. Both husband and wife were diagnosed with thalassemia.

The doctors advised the couple to perform IVF with the support of pre-implantation genetic testing, she said.

As a result, the embryo transfer was successful the first time. The wife, Lê Thị Xuân, 36, delivered two healthy infants, one male and one female in 2019, Hiền said.

Another example was a couple with a husband who suffered from testicular trauma which meant the couple could not have a baby for nine years, she said.

In May 2018, the couple decided to go to the hospital for treatment and doctors performed surgery for the husband to take his sperm to carry out in vitro fertilisation and intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (IVF ICSI).

Thanks to the successful surgery, his wife was pregnant and delivered two healthy boys. The little boys were 15 months old now, she said. —



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