British pilot could fly home next month

By Le Nga   June 29, 2020 | 01:14 pm GMT+7
Vietnam's most critically ill Covid-19 patient, who has been hospitalized for more than three months in HCMC, could leave for Scotland next month.

Stephen Cameron, the 43-year-old pilot who staged a remarkable recovery after being comatose for more than two months, could go home on a repatriation flight set to depart from Hanoi on July 12 if he is well enough, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Truong Son said.

"Hopefully the patient can walk in the next 10 days and will be strong enough to fly home," Son said Monday.

"When he leaves, a medical team will accompany him."

Son said the U.K. Embassy has sent a document to the Covid-19 treatment sub-committee under the ministry, suggesting that Vietnamese experts and authorities assess whether "Patient 91" was healthy enough to return to his native Scotland on a long flight.

The embassy’s proposal is for the British pilot to be taken on the July 12 Vietnam Airlines flight that is set to fly from Hanoi to the U.K. for bringing back stranded Vietnamese citizens.

The British embassy has said the patient’s insurance company will cover all the costs for him to leave Vietnam with the assistance of Vietnamese health specialists.

Local reports have said that leading Vietnamese specialists will have to hold another national consultation to see if the British pilot, who was to work for the national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, is healthy enough to be discharged from the hospital and endure a long flight back to the U.K.

Stephen Cameron drinks water from a bottle with help from the medical staff at Cho Ray Hospital, HCMC, June 2020. Photo courtesy of Cho Ray Hospital.

Stephen Cameron drinks water from a bottle with help from the medical staff at Cho Ray Hospital, HCMC, June 22, 2020. Photo courtesy of Cho Ray Hospital.

Cameron, known commonly as "Patient 91," has been hospitalized since he was confirmed Covid-19 positive on March 18. His fate has received unprecedented national and global attention as the strongest symbol of Vietnam’s success in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. A country of 96 million people that shares a long border with China, where the novel coronavirus is said to have originated, has recorded no Covid-19 deaths thus far.

The patient is currently in good health and can eat without any medical intervention. His limb muscle strength and respiratory functions have returned. He can breathe, sit up and walk a few steps on his own with the aid of a supporting frame.

The insurance company recently paid VND3.5 billion ($151,000) for the patient's medical bill at the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases where he underwent treatment from March 18 to May 22 and was cured of the novel coronavirus.

Vietnam, which has recorded 355 Covid-19 infections so far, has gone 72 days without community transmission of the virus.

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