HA NOI (VNS)— The continuing cold weather sweeping the northern part of Viet Nam has forced thousands of students to stay at home, while hospitals are under increasing pressure due to a surge of young and elderly patients falling ill since the temperature dropped.
In the mountainous northern provinces of Ha Giang and Son La temperatures dipped as low as 5C, making it impossible for students to attend school.
However, this long cold period was anticipated and so schools in these areas arranged to start the academic year one month earlier than schools in the lowlands.
In Ha Noi, primary students are allowed to stay at home when the temperature falls below 10C, while secondary students attend school unless it is below 7C. Parents have been advised to follow the weather forecast on national television to monitor their children's school routine.
Students are temporarily exempt from wearing uniforms during the cold weather, and school managers are requested to adjust the timetables where necessary so that students do not have to go to school too early.
Meanwhile, the cold front has increased the burden on already overcrowded hospitals.
The National Pediatric Hospital has received between 2,000-2,500 patients every day.
Doctor Nguyen Tien Dung, chief of Bach Mai Hospital's Pediatric Department, said that the number of patients has doubled.
The Ministry of Health has requested hospitals to inform people about dangers arising from the cold spell, such as child deaths from staying outdoors for a long time, burns from fires and carbon dioxide poisoning from firing coal in a contained space.
It has not all been bad news, however, with the cold snap driving a rise in the sales of warm clothing and heaters.
Tran Thi Huong from Pico, a large appliance retailer in Ha Noi, said that the number of heaters sold had quadrupled over recent weeks.
This cold weather is predicted to continue until January 14. — VNS