A medical staff at the door of a house with COVID-19 infected residents in the northern province of Bac Ninh to give medicine and collect samples for testing. (Photo: VNA)

The capital city of Hanoi detected the highest number of 2,982 cases. It was followed by the central city of Da Nang and the central province Khanh Hoa, with 888 and 680, respectively.

The new infections brought the country’s total caseload to 2,023,546, ranking 28th among 224 countries and territories across the world. Among the cases, 68 were infected with the Omicron variant, all imported and quarantined right upon arrival.

Also on January 16, up to 9,326 patients were declared to be free from the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, lifting the total number of recoveries to 1,727,290.

Meanwhile, 129 new fatalities were reported on the day, raising the death toll to 35,609, equivalent to 1.8 percent of the total infections.

As many as 168,003,163 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Vietnam so far, including 78,595,722 first, 72,319,574 second, and 17,087,867 third shots.

More capital flows come to economic, industrial parks in 2021

Economic and industrial parks nationwide drew 539 foreign-invested and 615 domestic projects with a total registered capital of 12.8 billion USD last year despite COVID-19 pandemic, up 15 percent annually, reported Vietnam News Agency according to statistics from the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MoPI).

At Vietnam - Singapore IP in Hai Phong (Photo: VNA)

The additional capital reached 236.2 trillion VND, equivalent to that in 2020.

The ministry’s Department of Economic Zones Department said as of late 2021, the country was home to 564 IPs under planning with a total area of 211,700ha, 398 established IPs covering 123,500ha, 292 of them have been put into operation and 108 under construction.

Among 292 IPs under operation, 265 have been equipped with concentrated wastewater treatment plants capable of processing a maximum of 1.24 million cu.m each day, or 91 percent – meeting the target assigned by the National Assembly. Occupancy rate at IPs reached 52.5 percent while that in the operational ones was nearly 71 percent.

At present, there are 18 coastal economic zones in 17 cities and provinces with a total land and water surface area of 871,500ha.

So far, IPs and economic zones have attracted 10,331 foreign and 10,288 domestic projects worth 231.6 billion USD and 2.54 quadrillion VND (11.04 billion USD), respectively. The disbursed capital reached around 69 percent and 46.5 percent of the total registered capital.

Illustrative photo (Source: baodauthau.vn)

The department also reported that the Prime Minister approved the construction, expansion and adjustment of infrastructure in IPs with a total area of roughly 11,231ha last year. As many as 17 IPs in the northern provinces of Bac Giang, Vinh Phuc, Thai Binh, Hai Duong, Hung Yen and Thai Nguyen covering 4,151ha have been approved by the PM for additional planning.

Due to the pandemic, the total revenue of IPs and economic zones neared 182 billion USD last year, down 27 percent year-on-year. They earned some 132 billion USD from exports, or 59 percent of the country’s total, down 11 percent annually, and contributed approximately 121 trillion VND to the State budget, down 7.5 percent.

Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc said over the past time, the Government, ministries, agencies and localities have adopted measures to cut input costs incurred by firms in IPs while accelerating vaccination and taking flexible pandemic prevention and control measures.

A number of initiatives have been launched in IPs, hi-tech and industrial clusters, such as “three on-site”, “ one route – two destinations” to fill orders, seek the supply of materials and cut operating costs.

Former Director of the MoPI’s Foreign Investment Agency Phan Huu Thang suggested the Government issue policies to draw large-scale projects to IPs, thus forming large-scale production clusters with high connectivity between firms in IPs and economic zones, and between domestic and foreign enterprises.

In particular, further attention should be paid to ecological, industrial-urban-service, support, hi-tech agriculture IPs with synchronous infrastructure, making it easier to lure quality capital, he added.

Hanoi Red Cross Society supports poor, AO victims ahead of Tet

The Red Cross Society of Hanoi held a humanitarian fair in response to the campaign “Tet (Lunar New Year) for the poor and Agent Orange victims” on January 16, reported Vietnam News Agency.

At the event (Photo: VNA)

Via the event, gifts were presented to over 200 locals living with disabilities and disadvantaged teachers and students in Dong Da district.

On the occasion, 21 scholarship, each worth 1.8 million VND, were granted to orphans. Twenty gifts, each valued at 1 million VND, were offered to teachers and 20 bicycles to students, together with 26 Tet packages to poor families and AO victims. Aid for repair of a Red Cross house in Dong Da district was also provided.

At the event, 200 vouchers worth over 140 million VND were distributed to visitors to exchange for goods on display.

This year, the municipal Red Cross Society and its chapters will present nearly 90,600 Tet gifts to poor, policy beneficiary families, AO and COVID-19-hit victims in the city.

Proposal made to reopen regular flights to France, Germany, UK and Russia

The frequency of regular international routes to France, Germany, the UK, and Russia could be expanded to 10 flights per week for one-way tickets applicable to all airlines of each side for each respective market, reported the Voice of Vietnam.

This is the latest proposal being made by the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) regarding the expansion of the scope and frequency of regular international flights.

Most notably, the CAAV has requested that the Ministry of Transport grant permission to notify the aviation authorities of France, Germany, the UK, and Russia that airlines could potentially reopen regular international flights between Vietnam and these countries.

The CAAV also made the suggestion of working with other countries and territories to decide on the operational frequency on the basis of market demand and in line with aviation agreements signed between Vietnam and other countries and territories.

According to the initial assessment, travel demand to Vietnam from the European region will go through the gateways of France (Paris), Germany (Frankfurt), UK (London), and Russia (Moscow).

Passengers traveling from the European region to Vietnam will still have to fly through gateways that have direct flights. Therefore, the resumption of direct flights from this region to the nation can be considered necessary.

According to CAAV leaders, the expansion of destinations and frequencies mentioned above is essential and is in line with the travel needs of passengers, thereby creating conditions for all Vietnamese airlines to exploit the international aviation market. This can be used as a means of overcoming difficulties in order to stand firm for the cause of greater development.

During the opening week of the year, Vietnamese airlines launched 16 regular commercial flights from the United States, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, and Taipei (China), with the total number of passengers arriving in the nation reaching approximately 1,000.

The CAAV estimates that there are roughly 140,000 overseas Vietnamese who are wishing to return to their hometowns for Tet celebrations. It is anticipated that the number of passengers returning to the country will therefore exceed 30,000 passengers per week, including Vietnamese citizens, overseas Vietnamese and foreigners, including diplomats, officials, experts, and investors./.

Compiled by BTA