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Hanoians take action against Wuhan pneumonia

By Pham Nga, Hai Hien   January 31, 2020 | 02:30 am PT
Hanoians take action against Wuhan pneumonia
Parents have their children wear masks at Hanoi's Thanh Xuan Trung School, January 31st, 2020. Photo by VnExpres/Ngoc Thanh.
Families across Hanoi are sending their children to the countryside, disinfecting their homes, and cancelling holidays to counter the coronavirus threat. 

In the last few days, Nguyen Van Hai and his wife from Tu Liem District have been worried about a Chinese neighbor soon to return to Vietnam after the Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday.

Following newspaper reports on the escalating Wuhan pneumonia epidemic, they plan to leave their 4-year-old and 2-year-old children in northern Hai Duong Province before Hai’s wife returns to the capital for work. 

"If the situation gets better, I will bring my children back to Hanoi. Otherwise, even if I have to quit my job, I will not go there," the father said. 

The Ministry of Health confirmed Thursday three Vietnamese have tested positive for the nCoV. One is being treated at Thanh Hoa General Hospital in central Thanh Hoa Province while the others are at National Hospital of Tropical Diseases in Hanoi. As of Thursday afternoon there were five reported cases of infection.

Nguyen Ngoc Ha, 31, from Hai Ba Trung District faces a difficult situation knowing nCoV infections have been reported in both Hanoi and Thanh Hoa, her hometown. 

Before Tet, Ha and her husband planned to bring their children to Hanoi to study after purchasing a new city apartment. However, they cancelled their plans fearing "people from all over the country rushing to Hanoi at the beginning of the year, facilitating the spread of viral infection."

On learning the nCoV virus had arrived in Thanh Hoa, Ha said: "Since last night, I have called home several times to tell my parents and children to wear masks, and avoid using public toilets. I told my children to stop holding their friends' hands and stay home after school." 

Thu Hoai, 35, in Bac Tu Liem District said: "Since childhood, I was taught to clean my hands before eating as well as after going out. But now I have to teach my children the proper 6-step-hand-washing method as instructed by doctors." 

To combat infection, the family clean their mouths with salt water after waking and before going to bed. Before and after meals, a pot of boiling water is set aside to clean bowls and chopsticks. Besides buying medical masks, Hoai prepares lemon skins, crushed lemongrass and honey for her family to drink, alongside fresh oranges and multivitamins. 

After 3 years away from Vietnam, the family of Phuong Mai, 47, who runs a cosmetics business in Vietnam and Canada, cancelled their Tet trip to coastal city of Da Nang and Phu Quoc island, instead remaining indoors and avoiding crowded areas. 

"I had to stay up all night to take care of work. Tet turned out to be more tiring than usual," she said. Instead of visiting her relatives, Mai eventually decided to return to Canada.  

Trinh Hai Yen's family in My Dinh, Hanoi had to cancel their Tet holiday to China due to the health risk, saying they have avoided crowded places frequented by Lunar New Year devotees. 

Hoang Ngoc Thuong, 27, from Cau Giay District lives alone and usually dines out following work. However, amid the coronavirus scare, she has opted to cook at home and avoid overcrowded restaurants. Thuong's lunch now includes more beef and green vegetables than usual. "I heard that the virus could attack those with weak immune systems so I have to eat better," the office worker commented. 

"Last year I worried about water quality and air pollution, now its an viral epidemic. Living with such constant anxiety is too much," Yen said. 

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