Citizen support fortifies medical staff ​in coronavirus battle

By Phan Duong   February 12, 2020 | 03:00 am PT
Locals and companies alike are indirectly contributing to the fight against the new coronavirus by keeping doctors and nurses fed.

Lunchtime on February 11, 2,000 packages of milk and four fridges are delivered to National Hospital of Tropical Diseases in Hanoi’s Dong Anh District.

"These are gifts from a company, who promised to make milk deliveries every four days until the epidemic is under control," said Pham Thi Nguyet Quyen, head of the hospital’s social affairs department. In February, 15,000 packages of milk will be donated to the hospital.

The milk was distributed to four departments where 112 nurses and 41 doctors are treating around 70 suspected cases of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) infection.

"We provide milk in the hope medical staff and patients could improve their health, immune systems and recover soon," Ha confirmed.

Nguyet Quyen (R) gives food to a staff member of the emergency department. Photo by VnExpress/Phan Duong.

Quyen (R) hands food to an emergency department staff member. Photo by VnExpress/Phan Duong.

Ha’s firm is not the only organization to show support, another local company having donated VND60 million ($2,583) on February 10.

"We read that some nurses fighting the epidemic had their wives and husbands evicted by landlords," Nguyen Thi Ha Bac, a company representative explained.

Six managers at Bac’s company donated money directly to the hospital after learning how to protect themselves from infection.

Besides, a pharmaceutical company gifted medical supplies; another 1,000 bottles of antiseptic mouthwash and 1,000 boxes of food.

Many local citizens are also "empowering" doctors fighting the deadly virus.

On the evening of February 8, a staff member of a Hanoi hotel delivered instant noodles, bread and 100 "banh chung" (sticky rice cakes) to the hospital. Knowing doctors and nurses have been quarantined to treat patients, the man encouraged his friends and colleagues to follow suit.

"The banh chung were meant as nightly snacks. He said we should let him know if we needed anything else," Quyen noted.

Sometimes, the "soldiers" battling the virus receive local specialties like glutinous rice cakes or a truck of watermelons.

"There are a lot of patients these days, and not many of us get the chance to eat on time. These presents help us when we are forced to skip a meal," said head nurse ouf outpatient department Nguyen Thi Dung.

According to Dr Nguyen Trung Cap, head of the emergency department, pressure from the Covid-2019 is not as much as SARS because medical authorities have been proactive in studying the new virus. However, for medical staff at the hospital, what proves exhausting is the fake news and inaccurate information available online, he added. 

Doctors and nurses have to wear layers of protective gear during their shifts, making them sweat profusely and inhibiting simple task like drinking water or using the toilet.

"The material and moral support of citizens and organizations motivate us in our quest," said Dr Tran Hai Ninh, head of the general internal medicine department.

Vietnam officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak an epidemic on February 1, and the country had confirmed 15 cases of infection. Six people have so far been discharged from hospital after doctors declared them free of the new coronavirus.

As of Wednesday morning, the global death toll from the epidemic had climbed to 1,115 and confirmed infections topped 45,000, of whom over 4,500 have recovered.

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