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Vietnam floods put over 1.5mn children at risk of disease, delayed development: UNICEF



Widespread flooding and landslides in central Vietnam have left more than 1.5 million children at risk of disease, poor nutrition, and delayed development, UNICEF Vietnam said in a press release on Thursday.

At least 135,000 families have been directly impacted by floodwater levels as high as two meters in certain communes, and over half a million people are unable to access protected water sources.

Family homes are devastated, crops and livelihoods are destroyed, and infrastructure is damaged.

To date, 42 commune health stations have reported being damaged and many more isolated and inaccessible due to floodwaters, leaving mothers and children separated from the basic and preventative health care so important in such times of heightened disease risk.

In many locations, schools have been ravaged and remain closed temporarily.

As a result, nearly 1.2 million students are currently out of school and learning is disrupted.

The window to provide relief is narrow as a new cyclone nears the same coastal region and could make landfall in the next days.

UNICEF experts have joined a team led by the Vietnam Disaster Management Authority and they have reached the most affected provinces assessing the situation of children and women to know the full extent of the needs.

Based on that information, the UN agency will raise and allocate further funds and expertise to support the Vietnamese government and communities to address the many challenges.

“The flood and landslides have caused severe damage in the communes visited,” Ly Phat Viet Linh, UNICEF emergency specialist, said while traveling to Quang Binh, one of the most affected provinces so far.

“Schools have been damaged while books and other learning material are destroyed by water.

“The population can’t access running water, toilets are under water, and the lack of personal hygiene and sanitation is increasing the risk.

“We are already seeing illnesses such as diarrhea and gynecological diseases.”

This aerial photo shows a vast flooded region in central Vietnam. Photo: Truong Trung / Tuoi Tre

This aerial photo shows a vast flooded region in central Vietnam. Photo: Truong Trung / Tuoi Tre

UNICEF has allocated an initial US$100,000 for emergency relief in water, sanitation, hygiene, health, nutrition, and education, as well as psychosocial support and child protection, said Rana Flowers, the UN agency’s representative in Vietnam.

“While we urgently address health risks, we must also get children back to learning,” Flowers said.

“Given the circumstances many may need to return to online learning – so assessing access and connectivity is an important action for the education team.

“At the same time, we need to pay careful attention to children’s mental well-being – acutely aware of how such disasters impact them – not just their physical health and nutrition.

“Women and children often face increased protection risks and they always experience stress and anxiety that we must address as quickly as possible.” 

With further rain in the forecast, UNICEF is monitoring carefully the health risks, including identifying solutions for addressing the challenges now faced – such as disease spread, lack of nutritious foods for women and children, health checks and care for pregnant women or maintaining routine immunization.

“As reports come in from UNICEF staff in the affected provinces – the damage is heartbreaking and the risks to children mounting,” Flowers said.

“These populations were already suffering from the impact of COVID-19, and their capacity to bounce back is tested.

“UNICEF extends its sincere condolences to those affected and we call on our family of supporters all over the world to support the recovery efforts.”

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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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First Vietnamese patient cured of Hematohidrosis



After three years of treatment, the first Vietnamese person diagnosed with Hematohidrosis has recovered.

Hematohidrosis is a rarely seen disease with only 200 infected cases reported so far globally. In Vietnam, a 24-year old man became the first Hematohidrosis patient.

First Vietnamese patient cured of Hematohidrosis

When wearing white sandals, the area that was in contact with the skin would turn red

Dr Tran Hau Khang, chair of the Vietnam Dermatology Association and former director of the Central Dermatology Hospital, treated the patient. He said the patient met him for consultancy in May 2018 at the introduction of a professor at Hanoi Medical University.

The young man said every time he ran or did heavy work, his sweat would be red. When wearing white shirts and white sandals, the area that was in contact with the skin would turn red.

The phenomenon appeared about one month before he visited the doctor. He had gone for examinations at many hospitals, but doctors were unable to identify the cause.

Khang, who has spent many years researching rare diseases and dermatological phenomena, questioned the patient and performed a clinical examination. He thought that it was possibly Hermatohidrosis.

Two tests considered the gold standards in diagnosis of the disease were taken. They included a test to find the components of red blood cells in perspiration and the biopsy of skin to view pathological images.

After one week, the two tests showed positive results. The patient was then confirmed as suffering from Hermatohidrosis and became the first Hermatohidrosis patient in Vietnam.

Hermatohidrosis is not dangerous to health, but has a great psychological impact. Scientists believe the phenomenon occurs when someone falls into a state of excessive fear and stress.

Of the nearly 200 cases recorded so far in the world, many were prisoners under the death penalty who experienced the phenomenon on the day before the execution date. In other cases, the patients were crew members who faced storms at sea that could sink their ships. Other patients were those who lost their loved ones.

The 24-year-old man said that he suffered from constant anxiety, regular mental tension, and insomnia.

Khang stressed that while Hematohidrosis patients all have experienced emotional trauma or extreme stress, not everyone with psychological problems is susceptible to the phenomenon.

The causes behind Hermatohidrosis remain unclear. However, scientists believe that extreme stress, serious tension, and psychological disorder over a long period play a very important role in the pathogenesis of this rare phenomenon.

In order to treat Hermatohidrosis, Khang mostly prescribed sedatives to ease tension and relieve insomnia. He also offered consultations on how to relieve psychological disorder and avoid stress. 

Thu Ha


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