Saigon senior students get another week off as Covid-19 cases surge

By Manh Tung   March 8, 2020 | 07:18 am PT
Saigon senior students get another week off as Covid-19 cases surge
Saigon senior students review their lessons for the national graduation exam in June 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
73,000 twelfth grade students in Saigon are allowed to stay away from classes until March 15 instead of returning to school Monday amid rising coronavirus fears

The latest announcement was made on Sunday night by HCMC authorities in the context that the country has recorded 14 new infection cases over the past three days, raising the country’s total to 30.

On Friday, city authorities have approved the decision to allow all 12th graders to return to school on Monday while kindergarteners, students from first to eleventh grade and students at language, IT, tutoring and soft skill centers would continue to have their break extended until the end of next week.

HCMC, the biggest city in Vietnam, has nearly two million students from kindergarten to continuing education and vocational training colleges.

High school students, especially 12th graders, have greater pressure to keep up with their study plans as they will have a high school graduation exam this summer. The exam was held in June in previous years but has been rescheduled for July this year.

National high school exams are seen as a seminal event in the country, with success or failure having far-reaching impacts. The exams not only award a high-school certificate, but also decide admissions to universities and colleges.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said at a recent government meeting that "students should return to school only when safety is ensured."

Earlier, Vietnamese cities and provinces had allowed their students to stay away from classes until the end of February, instead of going back to school on February 3 after the Lunar New Year break.

High school seniors in 59 provinces and cities across the country have officially resumed classes on March 2 after a prolonged break of more than a month, owing to fears over the spread of the coronavirus.

The country’s two largest metropolises Hanoi and HCMC, Tien Giang Province in the south and Thai Binh Province in the north are the only four localities in the country to have students at all levels stay away from classes until March 8 or 15.

As of Sunday, 40 provinces and cities around the country, including Hanoi have kept their students away from classes until the end of next week as  the number of coronavirus cases in Vietnam has risen quickly.

On Friday, Nguyen Hong Nhung who returned from Europe was confirmed positive for Covid-19, becoming Hanoi’s first infection case and Vietnam's 17th after the country going 22 days with no new infection.

A day later, a 27-year-old man returning to Vietnam from South Korea’s Daegu City became the 18th while Nhung’s personal chauffeur and her aunt were the 19th and 20th cases.

On Sunday morning, a 61-year-old Hanoian on the same flight as Nhung was confirmed to have contracted the novel coronavirus. The man, the nation’s 21st Covid-19 infection, lives in the same neighborhood as her in Ba Dinh District.

The 18th patient hails from Thai Binh Province and is under treatment in Ninh Binh Province, northern Vietnam, while all the remaining four new Vietnamese patients reside in Hanoi.

The same day, nine foreigners who’d flown in from London on the same flight as Nhung were confirmed positive for coronavirus.

Ho Chi Minh City has recorded three coronavirus infections so far, two Chinese and one Vietnamese American. All of them have recovered and been discharged.

The Covid-19 outbreak has thus far spread to 103 countries and territories around the world, with the death toll climbing to 3,649.

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