Da Nang Covid-19 patient turns fighter armed with free sanitizer

By Thuy An   September 14, 2020 | 05:00 pm PT
Mai Anh Duc’s Covid-19 test result returned while he was in a Da Nang centralized quarantine zone. Positive, it said, just one day after his son was confirmed infected.

"I felt dazed upon hearing the news, my limbs going limp. I was much more worried for my family than for myself," the 38-year-old man recalled upon getting the result back on August 5.

By that time, his partner and their other two children had already been placed in the centralized quarantine zone in Da Nang, while Duc and his infected son were transferred to Hoa Vang District Field Hospital for Covid-19 treatment. Before he left, Duc made sure to inform his friends and coworkers of the situation, telling his family to stay safe.

Fortunately, the father and son only coughed a bit without showing other symptoms like high fever or breathing difficulty. Making use of the time they had, Duc reminded his son to exercise often while in quarantine. He also wrote a journal of his experience to inform others of the Covid-19 situation.

During his time in quarantine, Duc realized the sanitizer required to disinfect patients, doctors and objects at the facility contained copious amounts of alcohol.

"It may cause the skin to dry and crack and is quite expensive," Duc thought. So he resolved to create his own variety, provided to anti-Covid-19 facilities at zero cost.

Recovered Covid-19 patient Mai Anh Duc holds two sanitizer bottles to be gifted for Da Nang Covid-19 fight. Photo by Mai Anh Duc.

Recovered Covid-19 patient Mai Anh Duc holds two sanitizer bottles to be gifted for Da Nang Covid-19 fight. Photo by Mai Anh Duc.

After nine days of treatment, Duc and his son were both discharged from hospital on August 14. They had to self-quarantine at home for two additional weeks however.

"The night I returned, I prepared dinner for the whole family. My son and I ate separately, but I could still feel the warmth in the atmosphere. I was glad the whole family had pulled through such trying times," Duc recalled.

When the second coronavirus wave hit Vietnam in late July and Da Nang became a Covid-19 epicenter, the idea of free sanitizers had already hit the back of Duc’s mind. The fact he got infected himself threw a wrench in the plan, albeit only temporarily.

Right after he was discharged, Duc jumped at the opportunity. His sanitizer production project, titled "Project 687" after his designated Covid-19 patient number, was launched soon after.

Thanks to his business connections, he got hold of a sanitizer-making machine from a friend. His sanitizers were later approved capable by HCMC authorities to neutralize most viruses and usable for small children and the elderly. The machine produces around five liters of sanitizing solution per minute, which would then be put into 20 l and 500 ml bottles for consumption.

Duc also enlisted the help of volunteers in the manufacturing of his sanitizers.

"No one wants the pandemic to last long. I hope the use of hand sanitizers would become a habit so everyone could protect their own health and the community’s," he said.

Sanitizers are loaded onto a pickup truck to be transported hospitals, markets and neighborhoods in Da Nang City. Photo by Mai Anh Duc.

Sanitizers are loaded onto a pickup truck to be transported for free to hospitals, markets, and neighborhoods across Da Nang City. Photo by Mai Anh Duc.

The team’s work paid off. After more than two weeks, over 10,000 l of sanitizing solutions have been provided for free to Hoa Vang Field Hospital and Da Nang Hospital, along with several markets and lockdown neighborhoods in Da Nang and its neighbor Quang Nam Province.

"Each time I return to Hoa Vang Field Hospital, I would put sanitizer bottles at the doors, by the beds and other working areas. I feel happy doing so, and the entire team feels motivated to work harder," said Duc.

The team would continue to produce sanitizers for other schools, hospitals and production facilities as people begin to adapt to "the new normal" of the coronavirus era, Duc added.

"I’m just simply a citizen helping the city fight the disease. I believe if we unite, the pandemic would be vanquished."

Vietnam has recorded 1,063 Covid-19 cases so far, 99 still active. A total 35 have succumbed to the disease, many being elderly patients suffering underlying conditions like diabetes and kidney failure.

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