Hanoi Covid patients left in the lurch without home quarantine guidance

By Quynh Nguyen   December 19, 2021 | 09:16 pm PT
Hanoi Covid patients left in the lurch without home quarantine guidance
Medics take swab sample of residents in Hanoi on Aug. 18, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
Many people in Hanoi have to wait for days if they test positive for Covid-19 to know if they have to self-quarantine at home or will receive treatment.

Pham Viet Dong's wife tested positive for Covid on Dec. 8. On receiving the news, he immediately informed the manager of their apartment building in Hoang Mai District so that health authorities could be informed.

A day later everyone living on the same floor as Dong's family was taken for testing.

On Dec. 11 rapid test results showed he and his two children under 12 were also positive.

"Since then my family has been self-isolating at home," he says.

"The ward medical center has not contacted us or given instructions though my two children have not been vaccinated".

His family has also had to live with the vast amount waste that piled up at home during the past week since no one is allowed to leave the building to toss the trash nor dare to place it at the common dumping area of the building of the building for fear of infecting others.

Dong says: "There are no medical staff to clean up trash for infected people or tell them how to handle it. The amount of garbage is getting bigger every day".

Though he sympathizes with the health workers since he knows how hard and stressful it is for them with limited human resources but a growing number of cases, he says, "Local officials should have provided instructions for Covid patients quarantining at home instead of ignoring them".

"Residents living on the same floor are also bewildered especially since a recently detected patient infected three other people," Vu Dinh Phong, 40, Dong's floor manager, says.

He also notified the Hoang Liet Ward People's Committee about Phong's family got infected but did not receive instructions or guidance.

He said whether patients are isolated at home or are sent for treatment, local officials need specific instructions so that people know what to do, how to handle medical waste and how local healthcare authorities dispense Covid medicines.

"We are adults and have been fully vaccinated. But children need to be cared for and treated in time. Waste needs to be carefully collected and treated".

Speaking to VnExpress on Dec. 15, a people's committee leader said immediately after receiving information that Dong's wife had tested positive, the ward temporarily cordoned off their home and sent people to take samples to send to the Hanoi Center Disease Control (CDC), and is waiting for the results.

The ward authorities have told the Hoang Mai District Medical Center to urge the CDC to furnish the results soon so that appropriate measures could be taken.

Many other Covid patients have also been complaining about the delay in getting their test results.

Ngoc of Hai Ba Trung District has a seven-year-old daughter whose has Covid positive rapid antigen test Covid result. On the same day the child was tested using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) by the ward health station, but the results took three days to arrive.

Nguyen Quynh Trang, 25, of Dong Da District tested positive on Dec. 7.

She says: "Medical staff said the Covid field hospital was overloaded, and patients with severe symptoms got priority. So I had to isolate myself at home. [They said] if I needed support, someone will come to help".

Luckily she did not have a severe condition, she says.

During her home quarantine, she would sometimes speak to the medical staff by phone and usually have food placed outside her room.

Since she did not know how to handle waste, she left it on her balcony.

"There are only regular garbage trucks. But I am a Covid patient. So I just piled it up there".

After a week, on Dec. 14, she was informed by health workers she had 30 minutes to leave for the field hospital. But the garbage remained at home.

A garbage collector waits to pick trash from a Covid patients family n Kim Giang Ward, Thanh Xuan District, December 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Chieu

A garbage collector waits to pick trash from a Covid patient's family house in Kim Giang Ward in Hanoi’s Thanh Xuan District in December, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Chieu

An epidemiologist says people quarantining at home while waiting for PCR test results or to be taken to hospital should stay calm and isolated.

"According to statistics, 80-85 percent of patients have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic."

Home quarantine could be even better and more comfortable for patients than at public facilities, he says.

On the evening of Dec. 14, the ward health station called Dong's family to inquire, provide food, disinfect their house, and give instructions on handling waste. They were told to keep their waste separate and wait for medical staff to come around and "collect every day".

The station also sent people to test apartment residents again and instruct them in preventive measures. Local health officials said all four members of Phong's family were in stable condition and did not need to go to a medical facility for treatment.

The capital has recorded over 24,000 Covid cases in the ongoing wave that began in April.

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