4 million Hanoi, Saigon students get a week off

By Manh Tung, Hoang Huong   February 2, 2020 | 05:09 am PT
4 million Hanoi, Saigon students get a week off
A teacher cleans classroom desks at a primary school in Ho Chi Minh City, February 2, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Manh Tung.
The new coronavirus outbreak has prompted authorities to grant a week off starting Monday to 4 million students in Hanoi and Saigon from kindergarten to high school grades.

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Education and Training responded positively late Sunday to a large number of requests from teachers and parents that students are allowed to stay away from classes from Monday to Sunday as part of efforts to keep them safe and limit the spread of the 2019-nCoV.

The decision came after officials in the downtown District 3 sought permission for a one-week closure at three schools standing near a hotel which hosted an infected Vietnamese American guest.

Hanoi's education department has issued similar notice the same night to keep its two million students from being exposed to the deadly virus.

Some school leaders said the well-being of students was now the top priority, and a week off will not largely affect the study schedule.

"As a parent myself, I support the decision to let the students off for a week," said the principal of a school in HCMC's District 10.

The week off extends the 16-day Tet break that students have enjoyed from January 20 to February 2.

Besides the country's two largest cities, 15 cities and provinces across the country have announced plans to extend the Tet break for students by at least two days, including Vinh Phuc, Thanh Hoa and Khanh Hoa, which have confirmed infection cases.

Dozens of universities and colleges have also postponed and rescheduled their classes.

Vietnam has so far confirmed seven cases of nCoV infection: a 73-year-old Vietnamese American, two Chinese nationals and four Vietnamese citizens. Three of the Vietnamese had returned from Wuhan, and a female hotel receptionist caught the coronavirus infection from the two Chinese nationals presently quarantined in Saigon.

As of Sunday, Vietnam has recorded 92 suspected cases with symptoms like high fever and cough, including some who visited infected areas in China. Of these, 27 remain quarantined pending test results.

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in China had reached 304 by Saturday, according to China’s National Health Commission.

The virus has claimed first life outside mainland China, a 44-year-old man from Wuhan who died in the Philippines on Saturday, of what officials called "severe pneumonia."

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