Mother, Covid-19 recoveree looks to uncertain future

By Viet Quoc   April 14, 2020 | 06:01 am PT
Mother, Covid-19 recoveree looks to uncertain future
Nguyen Thanh Thuy, 37, contracted Covid-19 from her boss. Photo by VnExpress/Viet Quoc.
A mother, employee and recently recovered Covid-19 patient recalls her difficult experience, mulls future tribulations. 

On April 10, Truong Thi Thanh Thuy's 12-year-old son recovered from Covid-19 with 14 more days of quarantine left. However, she remains worried about loss of work and community discrimination. 

Thuy lives in Ham Thuan Bac District, the central province of Binh Thuan with her husband and two young children. Before infected with the virus, the 37-year-old worked in a construction materials shop owned by Dang Thi Linh Trang. 

Each afternoon at about 16:00, Thuy stopped by the head office about 200 meters away from the shop to report inventory data.

Thuy has met her boss many times since the latter returned from the U.S. in early March, often sitting only a meter from each other. In addition, she has also frequently met with her son and husband during the course of work.

On March 3, when a sales team promoting sanitary equipment from Ho Chi Minh City visited Phan Thiet Town of Binh Thuan, Thuy was taking stock while the others discussed business. 

"At the time I had heard about the new coronavirus spreading across the world, but could not imagine it would affect my company," Thuy recalls.

On March 9th, Trang showed symptoms of coughing, fever and had to attend hospital. The store had to close and all 20 employees were required to stay home. The day after, Trang was confirmed Covid-19 positive, the first case in Binh Thuan Province and the 34th in Vietnam.

Following the confirmation, Thuy and all other employees were immediately taken to a quarantine zone at La Gi Town. At the time, Thuy still felt healthy and experienced no clear symptoms. 

"My neck felt itchy once, but nothing other than that. Another colleague had a headache and coughed, making everyone nervous," Thuy said. "Yet I turned out to be Covid-19 positive. Everything seemed to collapse in front me, I was worried whether I would live or die." 

Acknowledged by the Ministry of Health as "Patient 37" on March 11, Thuy was taken from La Gi to Binh Thuan General Hospital for treatment.

Local health authorities quickly assembled about 50 people who had come in contact with her, including her husband, son, daughter, relatives, and neighbors at the La Gi  quarantine area. 

Thuy worried she may have infected a great number of people, especially her 2-year-old daughter and her already-ill parents and parents-in-law. In the end, only her 12-year-old son tested positive and was transferred to the same provincial hospital as his mother. 

"Luckily, my 2-year-old daughter was not infected. I thought she might, since she slept with me and I always fed her myself", she stated.     

In quarantine, Thuy contacted her family via video chat each day. Thanks to the phone, her son could play games and watch movies to lessen his boredom at hospital.  

In her 20-meter-square-meter hospital room, Thuy received three meals at 6 a.m, 10:30 a.m., and 4:00 p.m. Meals included porridge for breakfast and meat, fish and soup for lunch and dinner. Patients could also switch to beef noddle soup or rice with roasted pork rib. 

"Doctors are very devoted and always encouraged patients when checking on us," Thuy said. Based on symptoms, doctors prescribe 2-4 tablets a day, in addition to supplements to boost the immune system. Everyone reminded her to relax and eat properly to quickly recover. 

"Thanks to eating well, I did not lose weight," she noted.

When first admitted to hospital, Thuy was very worried, yet the dedication of doctors and nurses calmed her down during treatment. 

"I read on the news my boss had destroyed furniture at the hospital and demanded to be transferred. That was completely untrue. Everyone was grateful to nurses and doctors, and no one would do that," Thuy confirmed. 

The day she was informed of her recovery together with six other patients, she could not sleep since her son remained ill. "I was very concerned about my son and could only pray for his recovery, so we could leave hospital at the same time." 

On April 3, Thuy was discharged along with her boss and her five family members. Thuy subsequently requested to stay in the room opposite her son. 

After three tests, on April 9, the boy was confirmed free of the virus. The exhilarated mother and son were taken to Eastern Medical Provincial Hospital for 14 more days of quarantine. 

Thuy and her son leave the hospital on April 10, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Viet Quoc.

Thuy and her son leave the hospital on April 10, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Viet Quoc.

After their recovery, Thuy worried about community discrimination since her extended family in Ham Thuan Bac District faced ridicule following their 14-quarantine period.

Every time a relative passed by,  neighbors would close their doors. Her cousin, employed at a bank, is also treated with suspicion even though she didn't interact with Thuy. 

"I am most worried about my son, who is a good student. If his classmates tease or alienate him, it will affect his mentality,"  Thuy said.

Before Covid-19 infection, Thuy earned about VND6 million ($257.29) a month. Her husband worked as an accountant. Both had little time to cultivate dragon fruit, as per local custom. Now, the couple is unemployed and faces tremendous financial strain.

Thuy said that, though the past few days of the epidemics had been terrible, she was grateful both her and her son had survived. She plans to stay home to care for their children for a while. 

"My family is the priority. We can overcome any difficulties together," she maintained. 

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