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Covid-19 prevents Hoi An family from collecting body of loved one

By Dac Thanh   August 12, 2020 | 06:00 am PT
One family could not sign its patriarch’s death certificate since all members either had Covid-19 or were in quarantine.

Lan, her husband and their two children have been quarantined at a healthcare center in central Hoi An Town since July 30.

While her nine-year-old daughter coped well, their two-month-old son kept crying all day and night, leaving the couple tired.

Lan asked authorities if she could isolate herself at home, but they advised her to stay, saying her neighborhood was locked down.

To calm her, nurses showed her how to comfort the crying baby and put him into sleep.

The family stayed put inside a cramped 20-square-meter room since they did not dare go out. The couple kept a close eye on their phones for news about the Covid-19 outbreak in their hometown and keep in touch with other members of their family.

The local clinic where Lan and her family is staying. Photo courtesy of Lan.

The clinic where Lan and her family are quarantined. Photo courtesy of Lan.

Five people in the family are in hospital after testing positive for the novel coronavirus: her father-in-law, aunt, two uncles, and grandmother. Twenty other relatives are in quarantine.

A sixth infected person, her grandfather, 70, was hospitalized at the Da Nang Hospital on July 9 after he complained of chest pain and tiredness. On July 27 he was diagnosed with Covid-19 and isolated.

On July 30 his condition worsened, and he was taken to the Hue General Hospital in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue.

A day later they learned he had passed away. He was the first Covid-19 patient to die in Vietnam.

"All my family members were sad when they told us to go to the Hue Central Hospital to sign the death certificate, but no one could go," Lan said, bursting into tears.

The family, unable to organize a funeral for the grandfather because all of them were in quarantine or hospital, had to ask local authorities to take his body to Da Nang for cremation.

Pandemic woes

The family has suffered for months since the pandemic kept away tourists and its small shop at the Nguyen Hoang Night Market had almost no patrons. Like many others in the ancient town of Hoi An, Lan had to close her shop in March.

In early June, when the pandemic seemed to be under control and domestic tourists started to come, she reopened, but still did not get customers.

Hoi An Town went into a semi-lockdown on July 31 after the fresh outbreak in neighboring Da Nang.

Since the coronavirus resurfaced in Da Nang late last month there have been 419 cases in 14 cities and provinces, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Seventeen patients have died.

Hoang Van Thu Street in Hoi An Town in full compliance on the first day of the social distancing campaign on April 1, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Huynh Phuong.

Hoang Van Thu Street in Hoi An Town on the first day of the social distancing campaign on April 1, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Huynh Phuong.

Lan and her husband did not have time to prepare for their quarantine, and only brought some clothes and other things for their infant.

The living conditions are not very good but, worried for her children's health, she encourages everyone to adapt and overcome the ordeal.

"I hope the 14 days go quickly, and I will not receive any news about my loved ones testing positive for Covid-19 or becoming too weak," she said, adding she and the husband have tried to lift their children's mood by organizing games and talking to them.

The nine-year-old does not miss home any more, and the baby does not cry, but they all yearn for normalcy.

"I hope the pandemic will be over soon and my family can reunite. Then we will go to Da Nang to pick up my grandfather's ashes."

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

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