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Saturday January 28th, 2023

Vietnam relaxes Coronavirus controls as China threats rise

GETTING BUSY: Traffic builds up on a Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) street after Coronavirus ‘social isolation’ was relaxed on April 23.

ECONOMYNEXT – Vietnam, a global leader in the fight against Coronavirus had relaxed its ‘social isolation’ allowing people to move more freely, restaurants were allowed to open, but the health ministry warned the public to wear masks and wash hands frequently.

Vietnam aggressively traced contacts, with the health ministry and military getting public support with flow diagrams and charts of where index had been and quarantined over 40,000 persons including foreigners.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said, except for some districts of Hanoi, Bac Ninh and Ha Giang people in other districts could go out and engage in normal activities subject to wearing masks and exercising car.

One of the last confirmed cases in Vietnam involves a Hmong tribal girl in Ha Giang who apparently got the disease from her brother who had returned from China.

But the brother was not positive for disease leading to the entire area being locked down. Vietnam’s government pays people in locked areas a per diem.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said Hanoi;s social isolation was being relaxed despite a proposal by the National Steering Committee for the Prevention of Epidemic to keep controls for another week.

“Relaxing social isolation but should not be an opportunity go to the streets to celebrate,” Prime Minister Phuc said.

“You have to be happy but alert.”

He asked young people in particular not to drink and party or race in the streets and that police would check such activities.

“People can go back to normal but the authorities still strongly advised to go out when there is the need, when you go out should wear masks and keep their distance,” the health ministry said in a statement.

“The transportation activities such as bus, taxi, car technology is active again.”

Overnight there was confusion in Viet Nam whether taxis and public transport would be allowed, showing that there was a debate whether relaxation was coming too soon. In Vietnam, due to free trade and low taxes, most families own not just one motorbike, but several.

Vietnam confirmed and hospitalized 268 Coronavirus cases, with aggressive contact tracing with strong community involvement.

Up to April 23, when controls were relaxed 216 had recovered 52 were in hospital including three serious cases. There have been zero deaths at the time of writing.

Vietnamese doctors had developed a treatment protocol using extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (heart-lung type machine) to keep patients alive long enough to fight the virus, when ventilators no longer worked. It is not clear whether any other country has tried it.

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The relaxation came as China was stepping up threats in the East Sea (South China Sea), declaring two disputed islands as provinces and ramming yet another Vietnamese boat, triggering protests from the Philippines and the US.

Related

US warns China not to ‘exploit’ virus for sea disputes

Beijing names islands in disputed South China Sea

Philippines said it had officially protested to China over pointing of a radar gun at one of their vessels.

Chinese Coast guard vessels had been ramming and sinking fishing boats off the coast of Vietnam for years. The latest sinking occurred in the first week of April.

In the absence of Coronavirus the Chinese actions would have drawn street protests, in Vietnam and elsewhere, commentators familiar with the region said.

In Vietnam bars massage parlours and gyms would still be closed.

Prime Minister Phuc asked people to adapt to a ‘new normal’ wash hands, to use antisceptic on surfaces where the germ can penetrate, maintain distance in activities such as production, business, classroom and restaurant.

Schools were asked to keep 1.5 meter distance but there are complaints that there is not enough space. (Colombo/Apr22/2020)

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Sri Lanka utility to continue power cuts, regulator says no

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Electricity Board has decided to continue power cuts, as the dry season hits the country despite orders to give 24 hours of power.

The utility said its Board “has decided to continue the demand management programme” and it has informed the regulator of this decision on January 27.

The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka said it had not approved the power cuts “as it violate and affect the rights of 331,000 students sitting for the Advanced Level exams.”

Sri Lanka’s CEB has high running costs due to long term scuttling of planned coal plants by activists and lastly President Maithripala Sirisena.

‘CEB’s costs went up as demand went up since the last coal plant opening and steady collapse of the currency from 131 to 182 to the US dollar due to open market operations unleashed to suppress rates and operate a flexible inflation targeting by the central bank.

Even more aggressive liquidity injections after 2020 to target an output gap then busted the currency from 182 to 360 to the US dollar.

CEB has to use extra fuel from around February to April 2022 as the dry season hits reducing hydro power.

Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission has ordered the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation to supply fuel and banks to give credit for extra power.

Power Minister Kanchana Wijesekera has alleged that CPC officials agreed under duress and threat of jail sentence to supply fuel.

The CEB has to cut power in case demand outstrips supply to maintain frequency at 50 Hz to avoid cascading failures, according to sector analysts. (Colombo/Jan28/2023)

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Sri Lanka president suspends parliament till Feb 08

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has suspended parliament till February 08, according to a gazette notice.

Parliament will re-convene at 1000 am on January 08.

President Wickremesinghe told party leaders that he would make a speech, officially declaring his intention to give effect to the 13th amendment to the constitution on provincial councils.

Provincial councils, a power sharing arrangement backed by India as a solution to the ethnic Tamil have not yet been given police and land powers. (Colombo/Jan28/2023)

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Sri Lanka expects influx of global twins

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s expecting thousands twins and non-twin visitors including at least thirty contestants for a Twins Miss and Mr World 2023 contest, where they will join their counterparts in the country.

“We expect upwards of 4000 participants to arrive in the country for the event,” Founder and Chairperson Vice President Global Twins Multiple Birth Forum, Upuli Gamage told reporters.

“And we very much hope that this number will keep going up in the years to come.”

The country amidst an economic crisis is celebrating the Twins Miss & Mr World 2023 for the first time in the World in Sri Lanka to grab the attention of more than 30 countries.

Prospective Sri Lankan twins can apply for the local contest to be held in May. Winners will go the international event in July.

Twins contests are being held in 30 other countries and three participants will come from each country, according to the organizers.

“This event helps to build a positive image of the country while grabbing the attention of 50 countries,” Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Chalaka Gajabahu said.

“And I heard this can be go as a World record to the genus book, that will give country free PR, free digital media marketing, free social media marketing.”

The Sri Lankan Twins Organization along with the tourism authority has initiated this program including twins of this country as a promotional campaign in hopes of bringing in foreign revenue.

There will be series of events commencing from July 24 to 31 including a business forum for investors to interact. Visitors fro 30 countries are expected.

“Countries like Japan do such programs often and we too should, to grab foreign attention,” Consul General to Japan, Sunil Gamage said.

“This will help to build International bonds. This is an opportunity to bring investors.” (Colombo/Jan27/2022)

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