Vietnam Today

Vietjet made some money, COVID won’t let up, and it’s all-over red rover for Vietnam at the Olympics

G’day G’day, welcome to Vietnam Today for Monday August 2. Let’s get straight into it with the COVID numbers.

The tally of COVID-19 cases recorded in Vietnam from the first case last year to 6.30 pm this evening has reached 161,761 cases. 

There were an additional 389 deaths today bringing the total over the same time period to 1695.

This gives the country a mortality rate of about 1.05 percent well below the global average of around two percent.

In light of the recent spike in cases, authorities have asked people not to relocate between cities or provinces while social distancing measures are in place, however, this hasn’t stymied a mass exodus from the southern provinces.

A number of provinces have said they will no longer accept people returning home from the south, but there has been little detail given on what will happen to people who are already in transit. Photos in VN express show large crowds of people stopped at checkpoints in the central region.

In Hanoi, I found out the annoying way, that 23 supermarkets were closed today due to a Covid-19 infection at a food supplier. Obviously this makes sense to avoid spreading the COVID-19 infection further, however, with most wet markets closed and no take away food services available, finding food has become a bit tricky. What’s more, consumers are being funnelled into fewer and fewer food stores which is making them more and more densely packed.

Also today the Ministry of Health advised COVID prevention teams to stop spraying disinfectant on the streets. In March of last year water cannons were used to spray wards where COVID-19 patients had been, a practice that was revived recently when cases started to spread. The MoH pointed out, what seemed very clear twelve months ago, that it was ineffective at preventing the spread of the virus because few people were likely to touch the ground then their face.

Vietjet turns a profit

Vietnam’s budget carrier Vietjet today announced a profit of five and a half million US dollars. This is impressive given passenger flights have been on and off all year relative to COVID outbreaks. They attribute their success, according to Vietnam Plus, to shipping more air freight.

This, however, also needs to be considered in relation to the national carrier Vietnam Airlines which is currently on the verge of bankruptcy and which is 86% owned by the state.

Dr. Nguyen Dinh Cung, a member of the Prime Minister’s economic advisory group, told Dan Viet back in June essentially, and I’m paraphrasing here, the bigger they are the harder the fall – obviously losses would be much higher for Vietnam Airlines given the size of their fleet and their workforce. He also notes that if VA was to go bankrupt it would have huge consequences. Of course, there is another option: sell it. 

This brings up an interesting point. With the exorbitant cost COVID is having on the economy and government coffers privatisation might be one way, post pandemic to alleviate the economic pain.

In this light the COVID-19 pandemic could be the push Vietnam needs to move toward greater, and more effective privatisation of state assets which could have big political, economic, and social consequences. This is a space that needs to be watched.

Vietnam’s last hope places sixth

And finally some it’s all over red rover for Vietnam at the Tokyo Olympics. The last hope of the Southeast Asian nation was Quách Thị Lan who made it through to the final of the women’s 400 metre hurdles. Unfortunately she didn’t place but she gave it a red hot go and ran her way into the history books as the first Vietnamese person to compete in the semifinals in athletics in an Olympic Games.

That’s all for today. See you tomorrow!

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