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Oct 06, 2021 / 21:53

Today’s Covid News: Vietnam gets additional support from Australia

The vaccination drive has enabled Vietnam's adaptability to the pandemic and soon resuming domestic flights.

Today [Oct 6], Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Robyn Mudie handed over 300,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses to Vietnam and announced her country's support to buy 3.7 more million doses, lifting its total assistance to 5.2 million.

 Australian Ambassador Robyn Mudie and Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Health Truong Quoc Cuong at the handover ceremony on Oct 6. Photo: Embassy of Australia in Hanoi

At the handover ceremony, the Australian gift also included more than 600,000 N95 respirators and surgical masks, and nearly 41,000 isolation gowns.

The upcoming vaccine doses will be purchased through a procurement agreement with UNICEF and in partnership with Vietnam’s Ministry of Health.

Australia’s commitment to Vietnam’s pandemic fight is worth AUD60 million (US$43.5 million).

Australia is working with UNICEF to support cold chain upgrades, train health workers, and conduct the vaccine rollout in remote provinces in Vietnam.

Ambassador Mudie said: “As a close friend and partner, Australia is committed to supporting Vietnam in its fight against Covid.”

“The 5.2 million vaccine doses which Australia will help Vietnam to secure will play a critical role in Vietnam’s efforts to contain the pandemic. Along with Australia’s support for vaccine delivery and other technical assistance, the doses will help Vietnam to chart a course towards economic recovery. We are proud to stand with Vietnam in the fight against Covid-19,” she noted.

Given the crucial role in the reopening plans, vaccination remains one of the top priorities in many parts of Vietnam.

The Ministry of Health has allocated 20 million doses of Vero Cell Covid-19 vaccine to cities and provinces nationwide with the majority given to the most affected localities like Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Binh Duong, An Giang, Kien Giang, and Dong Nai. The biggest recipients are located in the southern region.

Within this week, nearly 740,000 Sputnik V vaccine doses will be delivered to needy areas, according to Do Tuan Dat, chairman of Vaccine and Biological Production Company No.1 (VABIOTECH).

To serve the inoculation campaign, the government today agreed to buy 400,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from the government of Hungary. Earlier last month, Hungary donated to Vietnam 100,000 vaccine doses and 100,000 antigen test kits.

So far, Vietnam has received nearly 62 million doses, nearly 49 million doses of which have been administered, including more than 12 million people fully inoculated, accounting for respective 50% and 16% of the country’s adults.

 Vaccination in Hanoi. The photo was taken on Oct 6 by Khanh Huy/ The Hanoi Times

Vaccination fuels reopening

As the vaccination campaign sped up, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) plans to resume domestic flights after it got the nod of the majority of localities where the airports are located in.

As of Oct 6, 13 out of 16 localities agreed with its plan, including Dien Bien, Khanh Hoa, Phu Yen, Binh Dinh, Thanh Hoa, Kien Giang, Ca Mau, HCMC, Dak Lak, Nghe An, Thua Thien-Hue, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, and Lam Dong. The three remaining has not yet supported the plan: Hanoi, Haiphong, and Gia Lai.

“Opening 385 flights immediately as proposed is a big challenge for the Hanoi’s capacity as it will accommodate tens of thousands of people per day, causing an overload of its quarantine facilities,” Chu Ngoc Anh, chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee, told his constituents on Oct 6.

Tran Quang Chau, head of the Vietnam Association on Aviation Science and Technology, said resuming flights are essential for developing the economy and maintaining foreign affairs after Vietnam has significantly contained the virus and flexibly adapting to the pandemic.

According to aviation expert Nguyen Bach Tung, passengers to Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi and Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCMC account for 60% of Vietnam’s total passengers. In 2019, Noi Bai welcomed 29 million arrivals while Tan Son Nhat received 41 million.

Today, Vietnam Airlines, the national flag carrier, announced it would reoperate seven domestic routes from October 10 with return flights between HCMC and Thanh Hoa, Nha Trang, Tuy Hoa, Quy Nhon, and Phu Quoc. Vietnam Airlines and Pacific Airlines will operate one flight each to a single terminal per week.

On Oct 6, Vietnam’s Covid-19 cases were unchanged in the past 24 hours, at 4,363 while deaths stayed at 119. The average daily infections and fatalities were 5,689 and 136 in the past week, down 38% and 36%, respectively from the previous week.

Binh Duong, the manufacturing hub, reported 852 cases today, the lowest in more than two months.

 Vietnam's coronavirus infections. Source: MoH. Chart: Minh Vu

Does HCMC gain renewed vitality?

Today, Ho Chi Minh City’s mayor Phan Van Mai said the city is bringing the pandemic under control, enabling it to reopen the economy.

Thanks to the city’s significant containment of the virus, supporting health workers will withdraw from the city from now until October 15, the Ministry of Health said on the same day.

According to Dr. Nguyen Van Vinh Chau, deputy head of the HCMC Health Department, 29,000 health workers, and officials from the government and other localities came to support the city’s pandemic fight, in addition to nearly 17,000 soldiers and nearly 6,000 policemen.

Armed forces, including medical medics and medical police, join the testing, treating, providing food, and running checkpoints in the largest city.

Earlier, Dinh Thanh Phong from the General Political Department, the Vietnam People’s Army said about 132,000 soldiers and militiamen have joined hands with the city against Covid-19.

The supporting forces started coming to HCMC in late June and more delegations and medical equipment were sent there prior to the city’s shelter-in-place ruling on August 23.