Medical heroics gaining admiration

February 27, 2020 | 13:00
Among the storm surrounding the novel coronavirus outbreak, stories about sacrifice among Vietnam’s medical team have strengthened belief of those fighting against the disease.
medical heroics gaining admiration
The three month old COVID-19 patient was discharged from the hospital on February 20. Photo:

In the afternoon of February 21, the last and oldest COVID-19 patient in Ho Chi Minh City was discharged from the city’s Hospital for Tropical Diseases, raising the number of recovered cases in Vietnam to 15 out of 16 infected patients. Earlier on February 18, two patiengs with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients left the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases (NHTD). These were the last cases among the total of five treated at the hospital.

“The NHTD is assigned to be the leading facilitation to receive coronavirus patients. The last two patients have been released from the hospital, and we hope these will be the last COVID-19 patients here,” director Pham Ngoc Thach said.

According to Thach, besides the aforementioned patients, the NHTD is also the medical facilitation where people coming back from Wuhan last week have been isolated.

“Asides from these people, we still receive other patients, too,” he said.

As a person who directly treats the infected, Ba Dinh Thang, a doctor from the Emergency Department, said that working in the isolated area is a daily duty of his and his colleagues.

“Curing and encouraging patients are the obvious duties of the medical team. The work is naturally quite hard. However, due to the disease, we have to be responsible for even more work, including classifying patients at risk for either quarantine or hospital discharge,” Thang said.

Working in the same department as Thang, young doctor Nguyen Viet Nam asserted that he was confident in working at the frontline. “We have determined that being a physician of infectious diseases, we are not allowed to be hesitant in the face of epidemics. We work harder than usual and don’t have days off,” Nam said. “Most of us stay in the hospital – many doctors have been staying here for more than two weeks without getting home, in order to be ready to respond to different situations.”

Besides these silent examples of COVID-19 preventers at the NHDT, people have also been moved by images of medical delegations escorting a flight that picked up 30 Vietnamese citizens from Wuhan to Van Don International Airport in the northeastern province of Quang Ninh, as well as doctors from Cho Ray Hospital and Thanh Hoa General Hospital seeing off cured COVID-19 patients.

Particularly, female doctors from the Virus Department and the Infectious Disease Control Department under the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology have contributed to the successful isolation of the new strain of coronavirus.

According to Hoang Vu Mai Phuong, head of the Virus Department, most of the employees there are women. “The peak of the epidemic was on the Lunar New Year holiday, and most of us had to ask for support from our families. Some doctors have children who are under a year old, but still they have to work up to 12 hours per day,” she said.

On the first day of the holidays when many families gathered and went to visit relatives, Phuong and her colleagues welcomed Lunar New Year in the laboratories. “We didn’t have holidays this year. While the mobile anti-epidemic team including staff from the two departments went to collect the specimen, others had to conduct experiments to get quick results,” Phuong said.

The hard work of Phuong and her colleagues paid off, contributing to them successfully isolating the virus. With this achievement, the test results will be more accurate and involve shorter test times of just two days instead of three to five days like previously.

“We are always determined. As doctors, if we are not focused, we cannot treat patients. Besides the COVID-19, there have also been SARS, MERS, and Ebola. We are not allowed to be afraid,” Phuong said.

Talking about the contributions of doctors like Phuong, Thang, Nam, and their colleagues, Nguyen Thanh Long, Deputy Minister of Health said, “They are bright models of great effort and I highly appreciate their merit. Like during the SARS outbreak, many doctors and nurses didn’t get home for weeks. They tried their best to cure and save patients, and keep the disease from transmitting in the hospitals. They deserve to be praised and glorified.”

To recognise their contributions, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has presented them with certificates of merit.

According to data from the Ministry of Health, by last Saturday afternoon the number of COVID-19 cases around the world reached 77,813, with 2,360 deaths. In Vietnam, 15 out of 16 infected cases have recovered, including a three-month-old patient. There have been no new cases since February 13.

By Phuong Hao

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