A woman rides bicycle along a street in Hanoi, Vietnam. - EPA Pic
A woman rides bicycle along a street in Hanoi, Vietnam. - EPA Pic

AUTHORITIES in Vietnam's largest city Ho Chi Minh plan to build a million low-cost homes for workers and other poor residents.

They said the new homes will replace old apartments in dilapidated neighbourhoods spread out in the sprawling city.

The Vn Express reports Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee chairman Phan Van Mai saying that the city still had many cramped neighbourhoods where workers lived in small spaces.

He said such neighbourhoods were used as rest stops after a long day at work before the pandemic but due to social distancing measures, people were confined within the narrow spaces for months and this had severely impacted people's mental and emotional health.

"The city has received a large number of workers to build and develop the city, but we haven't invested in caring for them to the extent they deserve. We will do better in the future," Mai said.

He said the city's recovery plan includes construction of low-cost homes for workers and other low-income people.

Further details of the programme are expected to be revealed later this week.

"The city will build homes at the lowest possible prices so they are accessible for workers and replace old apartments and houses near canals, improving the conditions of neighbourhoods," Mai said.

Mai added that it would not be easy to cover everyone in a population of over 10 million in terms of pandemic relief measures.

On the issue of schools, he said although prolonged online lessons were not very effective for primary school students, the city cannot take the risk and let them resume physical classes while the pandemic still raged on.

He said the city had already requested the Ministry of Health to let children be vaccinated early, at least those most at risk, so they can return to school.

The health ministry had said on Monday that it plans to release guidelines on Covid-19 vaccination for children aged 12 to 18 before Friday.

The ministry's health experts are now discussing if the vaccinations should take place at schools or locality of residence.

Health experts in Ho Chi Minh City had called for a plan to vaccinate children against Covid-19 as the city was planning to open schools in early 2022.

In late August, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh had also told the health and education ministries to plan for children and teens to be vaccinated so the new school year could begin safely.

He had said the health ministry would need to determine which type of Covid-19 vaccine was frequently used by other countries to vaccinate children aged 12 and above and the education ministry should also collaborate in this effort.

Many countries have already started vaccinating children and adolescents between 12 and 18 years while some countries have even given the jab to those aged 5 to 12.

Vietnam now has about 25 million children. It has so far vaccinated 55 million against Covid-19 with at least one dose while about 16 million people have two doses.