Read what is in the news today, March 18!
-- 209 students in the northern province of Bac Ninh have tested positive with pork tapeworm in a food safety scandal of unprecedented scale in the province, prompting police to launch an investigation into the cause of the mass infection.
-- Unseasonal rain is in the forecast in southern Vietnam around Wednesday and Thursday this week as it is expected to cool down an ongoing heat wave that has affected the region since early March.
-- Mobile apps that offer instant personal loans with no requirements regarding the loan taker’s proof of income or repayment capacity are mushrooming in Vietnam as experts warn of grave consequences to borrowers who are tricked into taking easy loans only to be stuck with through-the-roof interest rates.
-- Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has issued an official dispatch asking anti-trafficking authorities to tighten control of pet pigs imported into Vietnam through land borders with China following the African swine fever epidemic that has hit 13 provinces and cities in northern Vietnam.
-- Prices of dragon fruits, bananas and jackfruits in Vietnam have hiked by up to three times in recent days after China – the major importer of Vietnamese fruits – increased imports of the agricultural produce.
-- More than 100,000 people visited the 2019 Ho Chi Minh City ‘Ao Dai’ Festival, which celebrated the traditional costume of Vietnam through a range of activities held in the southern metropolis, during the two-week event that concluded on Sunday.
-- Over 1,000 people on Sunday took part in the launch of Vietnam’s 2019 Earth Hour campaign, a movement calling on residents and organizations to switch off electricity for one hour on a given day of each year to raise public awareness on environmental issues.
-- Koi fish collectors in Ho Chi Minh City are willing to spend over VND1 billion (US$43,000) on a single fish as the costly hobby originating from Japan proves popular among the southern metropolis’ well-off citizens.
-- Some Vietnamese athletes, such as swimmer Nguyen Thi Anh Vien, who are past their career prime and stand little chance of winning another Olympic or Asian Games medal are still receiving special investment from sports authorities as they aim at securing Vietnam’s medal count at the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines.