Here are today’s leading news stories:
-- Lao Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh joined talks with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, and Chairman of the National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue in Hanoi on Saturday, as part of his official visit to Vietnam from Saturday to Monday.
-- Vietnam’s Ministry of Health documented 16,553 COVID-19 cases, including 2.791 in Hanoi, on Saturday, raising the national tally to 1,876,394, with 1,488,038 recoveries and 34,117 deaths.
-- Ho Chi Minh City was classified as a locality at low risk of COVID-19 transmission, or a green zone, from Saturday after having detected only 3,224 new cases in the past week.
-- Deputy Prime Minister Le Van Thanh has directed relevant units to expedite and complete the construction of Long Thanh megaairport in the southern province of Dong Nai within the first quarter of 2025.
-- Police in the central city of Da Nang confirmed on Saturday they had arrested two company directors for helping foreigners enter Vietnam illegally under the guise of experts.
-- Former deputy secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee Tat Thanh Cang was sentenced to 10 years in prison for violations resulting in the loss of VND669 billion (US$29.4 million) to the city budget.
-- Authorities in the Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau have begun the construction of a VND186 billion ($8.1 million) fresh water reservoir, which will help minimize groundwater exploitation, prevent land subsidence, and provide water for putting out forest fires.
-- Vietnam’s foreign direct investment (FDI) reached $31.15 billion as of December 20, up 9.2 percent annually, the Vietnam News Agency quoted the Ministry of Planning and Investment as saying.
-- The sale of flight tickets ahead of the Lunar New Year has been quite slow compared to the same period in previous years as travelers seem to make more careful consideration due to the COVID-19 pandemic.