Accounts from the pandemic frontline

February 23, 2021 | 11:58
I would say that the COVID-19 pandemic was most present to me on the night of March 6, 2020 – the night that Hanoi recorded its first case. My family lives just two blocks away – after that one night, Truc Bach street was completely blocked, and the surrounding markets were silent with almost all shops and hotels closed.
1532 p19 accounts from the pandemic frontline
Health professionals from hospitals in Hanoi were mobilised to Hai Duong province to offer their expertise

During this stressful period, I knew that I had to make a choice: to be with my family at this time of confusion, or to be a responsible journalist and do my job. My conscience told me to pick up the camera, and this was when I became something like a soldier, following my mission to bring the most authentic and timely information to readers. But if so, the risk of infecting myself and my family was very high, and both of my children are so young.

Fortunately, my wife also works in journalism. She completely understood my desire to “fight”, so she suggested to stay with the two children isolated at home so that I could go to the news agency and do my duty. Like in the midst of a real modern war, we were able to keep each other informed through text and phone calls.

Going to blocked locations, entering isolated patient areas, and following legions of chemical disinfectants while doctors were excitedly cheering with joy every time a patient was completely healed – these will be the days I will never forget. I have seen with my own eyes the urgent meetings at night, worries, and tears. But besides that, there were also many smiles, a lot of optimism, sharing, calmness, and assertiveness, and also the support, understanding, and compliance of an entire society. Facing difficulties, it seems that people respect each other more.

The stressful period passed, and society returned to a new normal state, and I could also end my self-isolation to return to my family. My children said that from now on, even without a disease or social distortion, they will never forget to wash their hands with soap for 30 seconds and the importance of self-study and reading.

And then, after a well-deserved pause, the ghost of COVID-19 returned before Lunar New Year, and I yet again plunged into a new battlefield in Hai Duong – even though I knew I would not be able to celebrate the holiday with my family like every other year.

I think everyone has had their own experiences with their own feelings. And those experiences will be invaluable lessons about confidence to overcome all difficulties in life.

(*) Hoang Manh Thang is a photojournalist accompanying health professionals on the frontline of Vietnam’s pandemic outbreaks

1532 p19 accounts from the pandemic frontline
Three COVID-19 field hospitals were set up in Chi Linh Medical Centre, Hai Duong Medical Technical University, and Hai Duong Stadium
1532 p19 accounts from the pandemic frontline
Almost all cases of COVID-19 in Kinh Mon town originated from the outbreak of the Poyun factory in Hai Duong’s Chi Linh city
1532 p19 accounts from the pandemic frontline
All quarantined people are provided with food and drinks
1532 p19 accounts from the pandemic frontline
Hai Duong has imposed a 15-day lockdown in the locality since February 16

By Hoang Manh Thang

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