The prolonged and damaging cold spell has attacked the northern and central regions, deeply disrupting the daily life of the local people.

As many as seven deaths were reported due to cold weather or carbon monoxide poisoning from coal braziers in the central provinces of Quang Nam , Quang Tri and Phu Yen.

The incidence of cold-related diseases rose 15 percent nation-wide, said Luong Ngoc Khue, director of the Ministry of Health's Health Examination and Treatment Department.

"Almost all of the patients are children or the elderly hospitalised with symptoms of respiratory disease," Khue said.

Health experts have advised people of the risks of carbon monoxide exposure and have also warned parents not carry their children by motorbike in the cold weather.

Statistics from the Livestock Breeding Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development show that the prolonged cold weather has killed over 17,000 cows and buffaloes mainly in the northern provinces of Son La, Lao Cai, Lai Chau and Cao Bang.

In addition, peach and kumquat trees are unlikely to be able to bloom during Tet due to the freezing temperatures./.