Vietnamese coronavirus survivor recalls novel ordeal

By Thuy Quynh   March 27, 2020 | 09:54 pm GMT+7

Nguyen Van Tung thought it was merely a sore throat before learning he was carrying the novel coronavirus, becoming Vietnam’s 18th Covid-19 patient.

Pursuing his education at Kyungpook National University in South Korea’s Daegu City, the 27-year-old man had struggled to remain at ease since February, when the city became an epidemic epicenter.

He only ventured out to supermarkets to buy food and never left his mask at home. The rest of the time, he stayed home with his sister.

"When my throat got sore, I did not think it was Covid-19, assuming I had contracted the common flu," he recalled after being discharged from hospital on March 20.

Tung could not believe he was carrying the coronavirus since he rarely had contact with people while staying in Daegu, turning to lozenges to help ease the discomfort.

Tung (R) was discharged from Ninh Binh General Hospital on March 20, 2020. Photo courtesy of Ninh Binh General Hospital.

Tung (R) was discharged from Ninh Binh General Hospital on March 20, 2020. Photo courtesy of Ninh Binh General Hospital.

In the next few days, things got worse.

Though Tung learned more about how Covid-19 had killed thousands in China, he still could not understand how he got infected.

After many phone calls from his parents in Vietnam, he decided to return home without telling them about the symptoms he was experiencing.

"Streets in Daegu were quiet," he recalled, adding many locals did not wear masks even though the virus was engulfing the city.

Since the outbreak commenced, he has given up on his part-time job at a South Korean BBQ restaurant.

When his plane touched down at Van Don International Airport in northern Quang Ninh Province earlier this month, Tung was placed under quarantine at a military school in northern Ninh Binh Province after having his samples taken and tested.

"I was woken the next evening and taken to a room to supply epidemiological data," he remembered.

An ambulance took him to the infection department of Ninh Binh General Hospital while the ten other people in his room, including his sister, were moved to another quarantine zone.

A confused Tung subsequently became the nation’s 18th Covid-19 patient.

In South Korea, he had only come in contact with two friends, both testing negative back in Vietnam.

"I am young and healthy and believe I will beat the disease," he maintained, adding he totally trusted in doctors at the hospital.

On his first day, medical staff applied infusion therapy. After 2-3 days, his throat finally grew better.

"I did not know whether I had transmitted the virus to someone else," Tung told himself. Luckily, his sister and others who previously shared his room all tested negative.

In the 10 days at hospital, he spent time talking with his parents and friends and checking for news on Daegu. His phone became a tool connecting its owner with the outside world.

"It was lucky I only had a sore throat and no fever, so I was not too tired."

His first negative results came out one week after he was hospitalized. "I felt at ease and happy because I knew I would be discharged soon."

Tung eventually left Ninh Binh General Hospital on March 20 after three negative tests. He was taken to Thai Binh General Hospital in his hometown where he would be quarantined for several days.

"I just want to be reunited with my parents," he said.

The number of Covid-19 cases in Vietnam has gone up to 163. Of the total, 20 have recovered and been discharged, including Tung.

 
 
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