Posted on

Overseas Vietnamese students under quarantine struggle to study online


Around 4 a.m., after completing two hours of online learning in quarantine, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Lan, 23, from northern Hai Duong Province put away her laptop and fell asleep for the first time after four nights awake.

Studying a master’s program at Bristol University in the U.K., Lan returned to Vietnam on March 20 and entered quarantine in Ninh Binh Province, around 60 kilometers south of Hanoi.

In her hand luggage, weighing 12kg, Lan brought nothing but books and her laptop for study purposes. Attending Bristol on the Think Big Scholarship Program, Lan is required to attend all online classes.

In order not to miss her first online lesson and submit an essay before the deadline, Lan must buy a special wifi ticket valid for 12 hours. In quarantine, she spends two to three hours one each subject per day.

Earlier, Lan could not adapt to the time zone change since most classes took place during U.K local time.

After four white nights, Lan lost three kilograms. Not until the fifth did she manage to finally adapt.

One of her main challenges was having to study between 1-3 a.m, followed by only two hours of sleep before everyone else wakes at 5 a.m.

Even though students have to log in an register attendance, teachers cannot keep them from falling. To cope,  teachers usually arrange individual Q&A sessions.

On Monday, Lan joined a group meeting with three friends, two in the U.K. and the other in China. They had difficulty in deciding a specific time for a group discussion because “each person was in a different time zone.

In addition, because the quarantine zone has no wifi, she has to rely on her unstable phone connection.

Despite preparing to exit 14 days of isolation, Nguyen Minh, 22, from Hanoi, is still not used to learning online.

As a senior student at a university in Tennessee in the U.S., Minh decided to return to Vietnam as soon as her school reported the first positive infection on March 14. For Minh, the most difficult thing was to access online classes.

Minh is studying two majors in Applied Mathematics and Human Development and is in dire need of direct support.

“It is difficult to engage with something like Math without direct contact with my professors,” Minh said, prepared to see scores drop during this period.

Like Lan, Minh also had difficulty adapting to different time zones, with Vietnam 12 hours ahead of the U.S and online classes usually occurring at 3-4 a.m.

For the moment, online learning is strictly controlled as professors can see who is logged into the online learning system.

Majoring in Communications at a university in Leeds of the U.K., Vu Ngan, 23, from Hanoi, returned home on March 19 and encountered many inconveniences in online learning while in quarantine.

Ngan must attend classes at either 9 p.m. or 1 a.m., some days attending both shifts. In bad health, she feels worn down.

“I asked my teachers to extend some deadlines one or two weeks. If I can go home, I will have better conditions in which to study,” she said, confirming she had gained consent.

Vietnam currently has about 190,000 international students. Since the Covid-19 pandemic worsened in many parts of the world, many overseas Vietnamese students have flown home and been under quarantine for 14 days.

Of the 222 Covid-19 patients confirmed in Vietnam until now, 64 have been discharged from hospitals.

Most of the active cases are those who have returned from Europe and the U.S. and people who’ve had close contact with them.

The Covid-19 pandemic has spread to 203 countries and territories, claiming nearly 47,000 lives.



Posted on

Fear of coronavirus leaves Saigon landmarks deserted


“This silence is probably a good opportunity for each of us to slow down, and reflect more on life. In difficult times, each individual should maintain a positive mindset and act more responsibly within their community, join hands with the Government and build a better Saigon,” Thien said.

Vietnam started a nationwide social distancing campaign Wednesday, not allowing gatherings of more than two people in public. A prime ministerial directive also calls for people in the same families, villages, communes, districts and cities to stay put where they are for 15 days.

People should only leave home for emergencies, buying food and medicine, and working in factories, production facilities and businesses that involve trade in “essential” goods and services, the directive says.

The number of coronavirus infections in the country has gone up to 222, including 64 who have recovered and been discharged from hospital.
 



Posted on

Social distancing leaves Saigon landmarks deserted


“This silence is probably a good opportunity for each of us to slow down, and reflect more on life. In difficult times, each individual should maintain a positive mindset and act more responsibly within their community, join hands with the Government and build a better Saigon,” Thien said.

Vietnam started a nationwide social distancing campaign Wednesday, not allowing gatherings of more than two people in public. A prime ministerial directive also calls for people in the same families, villages, communes, districts and cities to stay put where they are for 15 days. People should only leave home for emergencies, buying food and medicine, and working in factories, production facilities and businesses that involve trade in “essential” goods and services. 

The number of coronavirus infections in the country has gone up to 222, including 64 who have recovered and been discharged from hospital.
 



Posted on

Covid-19 outbreak puts Hanoi dialysis patients in distress


Nguyen Thi Oanh, 30, has been going to Bach Mai Hospital three times a week for dialysis since she was 16.
She is from Trang Viet Commune on the outskirts of Hanoi, 33 kilometers from the hospital. But for 14 years she has been living off Le Thanh Nghi Street, five minutes away from the hospital by walk.
At 10 a.m. she goes to the hospital carrying some clothes. “If I get quarantined there, I have something to wear,” she explains. Bach Mai Hospital, a major outbreak area in Hanoi, has been locked down since Saturday morning. At least 36 cases have been associated with the hospital.



Posted on

Vietnamese turn to online services for ancestor worship


People perform important rituals to worship ancestors during the Qingming or Ching Ming tomb- sweeping festival, on the 13th of the third lunar month, which falls on April 5 this year.

But constrained by the outbreak, some families have ordered food items online to make offerings and hired people to worship at the cemetery.

Every year Nguyen Thi Duyen of Hanoi’s Cau Giay District takes her grandchildren to cemeteries to visit deceased family members’ graves at the festival.

But with the pandemic still raging, she visited a website last week to buy a tray of fruit, incense and joss paper for around VND500,000 ($21.3) and hired people to take the tray to the grave and make offerings to the ancestors. The service provider will also tidy up the grave for Duyen.

“At first I did not feel secure about letting other people worship my ancestors. But I thought that since my intention is sincere, my ancestors will not blame their descendants for this.”

She said her family members would also gather to worship at home.

Hoang Oanh of Hanoi’s Thanh Xuan District, another customer of online worship services, said to prepare the food and other necessary items she would have to come in contact with many people at the wet market. So she and her husband chose the service provider, she said.

She has many choices since the supplier has a range of food trays with many different options and at different prices, she said.

“I have only seen the service in other countries and I did not expect to see it in Vietnam. At this time, when people avoid going out, this service is convenient.”

Even though Qingming is still days away, many families have been preparing to visit cemeteries since last week.

Tran Tuan Anh, general director of a business that has been offering this service for several years, said most Vietnamese living abroad use the service before Tet (Lunar New Year) or Full Moon in July when they cannot come to the country to offer prayers themselves.  

The number of customers has increased now due to the restrictions on travel because of the outbreak, he added.



Posted on

Flash team battles novel coronavirus


At midnight on March 27, Dr Nguyen Hoang Hong was woken by a phone call. Ten minutes later, his “flash team” exited Cau Giay’s District Medical Center in an ambulance.

Their destination was the apartment of a 27-year-old woman experiencing fever and shortness of breath after several days’ attending her father in Bach Mai Hospital, a Covid-19 hotspot.

“We treated her as a Covid-19 suspect,” said Hong, 30, deputy head of the center’s Disease Control Department.

After several minutes, Hong and his teammates arrived in protective outfits and tried to comfort the anxious patient.

“Please stay calm, and do not worry because not everyone having contact with patients become infected,” they told her.

The woman, responding to their advice, told them her recent travel history.

After listening, Hong looked at his colleagues and nodded his head. They understood it was a signal to implement testing. Nguyen Hai Linh, laboratory technician, used a swab to take some samples from the woman’s throat and sent it to Dong Da General Hospital.

Environmental officers Luu Danh Nhan then disinfected the 60-meter-square apartment. No one talked.

They finished their mission at 2 a.m., leaving the residential building in the dark and headed back to the medical center.

Hong (wearing protective clothes) and Linh (wearing his white uniform) in action at Trang An residential building on March 27. Photo by VnExpress/Danh Nhan.

Hong (wearing protective clothes) and Linh (wearing his white uniform) in action at Trang An residential building in Hanoi’s Cau Giay district on March 27, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Danh Nhan.

Hong, Nhan, Linh, and some logistic staff are members of a quick reaction team managed by Cau Giay Medical Center. In Hanoi, 65 similar teams are working around the clock amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fives years working at Cau Giay Medical Center, Hong has a good understanding of the 285,000 residents living across 8 wards in the district. With many universities, Cau Giay has a dense population, posing numerous challenges in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

Hong’s battle kicked off on the forth day of the Lunar New Year when a postgraduate student returning from Wuhan showed viral symptoms.

They started their mission at 3 p.m. that day by disinfecting his place on Tran Quy Kien Street, listing people he met, only to finish after midnight.

In February, Hong’s team kept a watchful eye on those returning from China, Korea, and Japan. In March, when the first Covid-19 patient was confirmed in Hanoi, they started screening all those returning from overseas.

Since March 26, they have had to check, take samples and isolate all patients in Hanoi’s Bach Mai Hospital, alongside those who had entered the facility.

“Previously, we fought the epidemic from the outside. It is more difficult now,” Hong commented.

After only three hours sleep, his team arrived at Trung Hoa Ward on the early morning of March 27 to gather local epidemiological histories. They had lunch after 1 p.m. and finished the job at 8 p.m. Thanks to their determination, they located 55 residents who were treated at Hanoi’s Bach Mai Hospital and 310 others who had passed by the Covid-19 hotspot.

“I am tired but I cannot sleep,” said the doctor.

Whenever he lies down, he thinks about those he talked to and their coming test results.

Hong remembered a ticket seller at a tourist attraction in Hanoi, having close contact with a British Covid-19 patient, could not recall his travel history because he was frightened. Hong spent two days talking with him and locating those he had come in close contact with.

When the test result returned negative, Hong could not be happier.

“He thanked me, but I am the one who should thank him. Thanks to that negative result, I have more motivation,” the doctor noted.

Doctor Hong calls his wife, who sent him a basket of fruits on March 17. During the call, he told her he would not be home in the next two weeks and would spend all his energy on the Covid-19 battle. Photo by VnExpress/Phan Duong.

Doctor Hong calls his wife. During the call, he told her he would not be home in the next two weeks and would spend all his energy on the Covid-19 battle. Photo by VnExpress/Phan Duong.

Laboratory technician Nguyen Hai Linh, gathering numerous samples, always sweats inside his protective clothing. On March 27, he spent 12 hours taking samples from those arriving from abroad or related to Bach Mai Hospital.

Standing in layers of clothes, masks and glasses, he could feel his feet grow numb and a headache develop.

“Due to the lack of air and water, we look upset when we remove our masks,” Linh said before having a drink.

In such close contact with suspected patients, Linh faces a high risk of infection.

“The safest way is standing diagonally across from the patient, taking their throat swabs first. Then they apply a mask to cover their mouths so I can take their nose swabs,” said Linh, 28, boasting five years of experience. These days, he takes up to 50 samples daily.

Since March 6, he has stayed at the medical center to be ready whenever a new suspect is reported.

“Sometimes we finished our work after midnight, took a shower, had instant noodles, and passed out,” he recalled.

As the pandemic worsens, Linh called his father two days ago to convince him, a taxi driver, to stop working and remain at home.

Linh after a working day. Photo bvy VnExpress/Phan Duong.

Linh after a working day. Photo by VnExpress/Phan Duong.

After 10 years working at Cau Giay Medical Center, Luu Danh Nhan has seldom had to work overtime until the Covid-19 pandemic. In the last two months, he rarely goes to bed before midnight and has no weekends.

On March 6, after learning about the nation’s 17th Covid-19 patient, Nhan led a team to Pham Than Duat Street and Trang An residential building, where the drivers of “Patient 17” had been. They sent three F1 (people having close contact with the patient) to a quarantine zone and advised 56 F2 (people having close contact with F1) to self isolate.

“It was 4:55 a.m. when I got to bed. I was sad. Who could have imagined the flight could carry the virus,” said Binh, referring to Vietnam Airlines flight VN54 of March 2, carrying several Covid-19 patients.

Six days later, Vietnam recorded its 39th patient, living in Cau Giay District. It took Nhan and his teammates 12 hours to investigate the patient’s epidemiological history and find all F1 and F2 suspects. After 9 p.m., they started disinfecting the building where the patient stayed.

Nhan said he was too busy to worry.

He also works as an advisor, talking with local citizens and convincing them to quarantine in case they had contact with an infected patient.

There was an “F1 woman” who was placed under quarantine and kept calling Nhan to talk about her concerns at the facility. Nhan told her about the difficulties doctors and medical staff are facing. She subsequently thanked him for making her understand her responsibility amid the pandemic.

As of Wednesday, Cau Giay District had six Covid-19 patients with Hanoi having recorded 85 in total. Nhan never forgets to tell everyone he talks to the next two weeks will be integral in the fight against the virus.

Nhan and others in his team all believe the pandemic would be over soon.

Vietnam has recorded 212 Covid-19 cases so far, of whom 58 have recovered and been discharged. Many of the active cases are Vietnamese nationals returning from Europe and the U.S., foreigners coming from the same regions and those who’d come into contact with both groups of people.



Posted on

Parasol flowers shower Imperial City


In the 19th century, King Minh Mang (ruling from 1820-1841) ordered his subordinates to bring back parasol tree seeds from China. The premises of Thai Hoa Palace, the front yard of Can Chanh Palace and other important spots were first chosen to plant the seeds. Tightly associated to the second Nguyen emperor, the flower was engraved on Nhan Dinh, a copper cauldron dedicated to Minh Mang in front of ancestral temple The Mieu.



Posted on

Parasol flowers shower former Imperial City


In the 19th century, King Minh Mang (ruling from 1820-1841) ordered his subordinates to bring back parasol tree seeds from China. The premises of Thai Hoa Palace, the front yard of Can Chanh Palace and other important spots were first chosen to plant the seeds.

Tightly associated to the second Nguyen Dynasty emperor, the flower was engraved on Nhan Dinh, a copper cauldron dedicated to Minh Mang in front of ancestral temple The Mieu.



Posted on

Crowds ignore PM’s coronavirus battle cry, flock beaches


Three days after Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued a directive, banning crowds of more than 20 people and ordering localities to close “non-essential” shops as the country enters a “decisive” two-week Covid-19 fight, popular Nha Trang beach in central Khanh Hoa Province was flooded with beach-goers, many without masks on Tuesday.

Eateries along the beach had suspended operations, but many street vendors were in search of customers regardless of the high risk of coronavirus infection.

On the shore, a loudspeaker continuously warned people not to gather in crowds, but to little effect.

Nguyen Sy Khanh, vice chairman of Nha Trang People’s Committee, said he had sent a notice to businesses along the beach, requesting them to close following the PM’s order. “But local authorities merely warned people not to gather in large crowds at public beaches.”

Local authorities said the coast from Tran Phu Street to Pham Van Dong Street is quite long at around 12 kilometers and well known as a famous tourist destination.

“If we limit residents to their homes, they cannot exercise and may get sick. We are discussing the issue to find a solution,” Khanh said.

The Health Ministry on February 26 declared Khanh Hoa Province free of the Covid-19 epidemic after recording no new patient for 39 days. The ministry declared a coronavirus epidemic in Khanh Hoa on January 1 after a hotel receptionist in Nha Trang tested positive for the virus.

In central Quang Ngai Province, authorities Monday put up barriers to prevent residents from bathing at My Khe, the most famous local beach.

Quang Ngai has not recorded any Covid-19 infections, but like many provinces and cities around the country, all bars, karaoke parlors, tourist attractions and other entertainment facilities have been shut down on the PM’s order.

On March 29, authorities in central Quang Nam Province, which boasts a long coastline of 125 kilometers and is home to beautiful Ha My, Cua Dai, An Bang and Cham Islands, closed all public beaches until April 15.

The move came after thousands of people flooded Tam Thanh Beach in Tam Ky Town, capital of Quang Nam on the weekend, sparking concerns.

Beach-goers play on Tam Thanh Beach in Quang Nam Province regardless of warnings from local authorities. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh. 

Tam Thanh Beach in Quang Nam Province filled with people regardless of Covid-19 warnings on March 28, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh. 

Vietnam started a nationwide social distancing campaign Wednesday, not allowing gatherings of more than two people in public, except for in offices, schools and hospitals, where the government imposed a 20-person limit earlier.

A directive issued Tuesday by PM Phuc calls for people in the same families, villages, communes, districts and cities to stay put where they are. People should only leave home for emergencies, buying food and medicine, and working in factories, production facilities and businesses that involve trade in “essential” goods and services.

Phuc said in a meeting Tuesday that though the government has imposed tougher measures to limit travel, including reducing the frequency of domestic flights, suspending public bus services and closing all tourist attractions and historical sites, huge crowds still appeared on many streets and public beaches.

He requested localities to halt all religious gatherings and would strictly punish top leaders of any localities allowing the gathering of crowds.

Those deliberately gathering in large crowds in epidemic-stricken areas will be punished by up to VND30 million ($1,270) in accordance with Vietnamese law. 

As of Tuesday, Vietnam’s total infections hit 204, with 55 discharged from hospital. Many currently active cases are Vietnamese nationals returning from Europe and the U.S., foreigners coming from the same regions and those who’d come in contact with both groups.

The Covid-19 pandemic has killed over 37,800 people after spreading to 200 countries and territories so far.

Vietnam saw Q1 foreign arrivals plummet as entry was restricted and tourism destinations closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The country welcomed nearly 3.7 million international tourists in the first quarter, down 18.1 percent year-on-year, according to General Statistics Office (GSO).



Posted on

Crowds ignore PM’s coronavirus battle order, flock to beaches


Three days after Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued a directive, banning crowds of more than 20 people and ordering localities to close “non-essential” shops as the country enters a “decisive” two-week Covid-19 fight, popular Nha Trang beach in central Khanh Hoa Province was flooded with beach-goers, many without masks on Tuesday.

Eateries along the beach had suspended operations, but many street vendors were in search of customers regardless of the high risk of coronavirus infection.

On the shore, a loudspeaker continuously warned people not to gather in crowds, but to little effect.

Nguyen Sy Khanh, vice chairman of Nha Trang People’s Committee, said he had sent a notice to businesses along the beach, requesting them to close following the PM’s order. “But local authorities merely warned people not to gather in large crowds at public beaches.”

Local authorities said the coast from Tran Phu Street to Pham Van Dong Street is quite long at around 12 kilometers and well known as a famous tourist destination.

“If we limit residents to their homes, they cannot exercise and may get sick. We are discussing the issue to find a solution,” Khanh said.

The Health Ministry on February 26 declared Khanh Hoa Province free of the Covid-19 epidemic after recording no new patient for 39 days. The ministry declared a coronavirus epidemic in Khanh Hoa on January 1 after a hotel receptionist in Nha Trang tested positive for the virus.

In central Quang Ngai Province, authorities Monday put up barriers to prevent residents from bathing at My Khe, the most famous local beach.

Quang Ngai has not recorded any Covid-19 infections, but like many provinces and cities around the country, all bars, karaoke parlors, tourist attractions and other entertainment facilities have been shut down on the PM’s order.

On March 29, authorities in central Quang Nam Province, which boasts a long coastline of 125 kilometers and is home to beautiful Ha My, Cua Dai, An Bang and Cham Islands, closed all public beaches until April 15.

The move came after thousands of people flooded Tam Thanh Beach in Tam Ky Town, capital of Quang Nam on the weekend, sparking concerns.

Beach-goers play on Tam Thanh Beach in Quang Nam Province regardless of warnings from local authorities. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh. 

Tam Thanh Beach in Quang Nam Province filled with people regardless of Covid-19 warnings on March 28, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh. 

Vietnam started a nationwide social distancing campaign Wednesday, not allowing gatherings of more than two people in public, except for in offices, schools and hospitals, where the government imposed a 20-person limit earlier.

A directive issued Tuesday by PM Phuc calls for people in the same families, villages, communes, districts and cities to stay put where they are. People should only leave home for emergencies, buying food and medicine, and working in factories, production facilities and businesses that involve trade in “essential” goods and services.

Phuc said in a meeting Tuesday that though the government has imposed tougher measures to limit travel, including reducing the frequency of domestic flights, suspending public bus services and closing all tourist attractions and historical sites, huge crowds still appeared on many streets and public beaches.

He requested localities to halt all religious gatherings and would strictly punish top leaders of any localities allowing the gathering of crowds.

Those deliberately gathering in large crowds in epidemic-stricken areas will be punished by up to VND30 million ($1,270) in accordance with Vietnamese law. 

As of Tuesday, Vietnam’s total infections hit 204, with 55 discharged from hospital. Many currently active cases are Vietnamese nationals returning from Europe and the U.S., foreigners coming from the same regions and those who’d come in contact with both groups.

The Covid-19 pandemic has killed over 37,800 people after spreading to 200 countries and territories so far.

Vietnam saw Q1 foreign arrivals plummet as entry was restricted and tourism destinations closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The country welcomed nearly 3.7 million international tourists in the first quarter, down 18.1 percent year-on-year, according to General Statistics Office (GSO).