First Covid-19 patient in new outbreak: 'I was shocked and scared'

By Chi Le   February 1, 2021 | 10:00 pm PT
First Covid-19 patient in new outbreak: 'I was shocked and scared'
A fleet of ambulance cars arrive at a facility in the northern Hai Duong Province where Vietnam Poyun Electronics Co., Ltd workers are isolated to bring those who have been confirmed positive with coronavirus to hospitals, January 29, 2021. Photo by Manh.
Six days after becoming the first patient in the new wave of Covid-19, a woman in Hai Duong Province says she is still shell-shocked.

Speaking to VnExpress on the phone from her hospital room, the woman from Chi Linh Town, identified only as patient 1552, cannot hide the crisis she has been going through since being diagnosed with Covid-19 on January 28.

Recalling how she contracted it, the 34-year-old said for several days she had felt like she had a cold and went to a private clinic. A doctor there said she had bronchitis and prescribed some medicines.

But though she did not feel better despite taking the medicines, she kept going to work at Vietnam Poyun Electronics Co., Ltd in Chi Linh, and felt some discomfort at night and slight fatigue.

Last week she came to know her sister-in-law, also an employee of the company, had tested positive for Covid-19 on arriving in Japan. Authorities do not know from whom that woman, who left for Japan to work on January 17, contracted the virus.

On contact tracing, samples were taken from patient 1552 and she tested positive.

"I was shocked and scared, I had no idea how I got the virus," she said.

"I was so confused. Even in my dreams I did not picture myself being a Covid-19 patient. I only went to work and stuck around in my neighborhood and everything seemed just fine."

Following her infection, Hai Duong has now become the Covid epicenter with 207 cases being reported as of Tuesday morning.

Just as she was being diagnosed with the disease, a male staff at Van Don International Airport in Quang Ninh Province bordering Hai Duong also tested positive, becoming patient 1553, after having symptoms for several days.

His source of infection too is not known.

With the two, the streak of 55 straight days without local transmission in Vietnam came to an end.

On her first day in hospital, she was distraught and cried.

Then a friend informed her that 72 others at her company also tested positive. It was around noon on January 28 and the news was announced by Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long at an emergency meeting.

That had made her feel worse.

"I was even more shocked and could not feel anything at all. It turns out that the pandemic had been so close to me and I didn’t have a clue."

Thinking about her two children at home and worrying if anyone else in her family had contracted the virus from her, she cannot either eat or sleep.

She has depended on the reassurances and encouragement given by the doctors treating her to overcome the crisis.

Every day she asks them about her condition and whether she could have infected others.

"I have asked them so many questions. Even when it is very late at night, they give me the answer. They reassure me to make me feel comfortable."

Thanks to the doctors' efforts, she has been more at ease recently.

She has joined a chat group of colleagues who have been infected, and they update and encourage each other.

For now her only wish is that no one else in her family should contract the virus.

"All I wish now is for the number of infections to stop rising. I hope all the patients recover soon, I wish for a miracle for all of us."

Doctors at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi, where she is being treated, said she has pneumonia and so is in the ICU.

But her condition has improved and she can breathe more easily and eat better.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, head of the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, said on January 28, after a record single-day tally of 93, that it was highly possible community spread had begun in Hai Duong 10 days earlier.

Though the source of transmissions has yet to be identified, it has been confirmed that all the cases have been caused by the U.K. variant of the virus, which is thought to be 70 percent more contagious than earlier strains.

From Hai Duong and Quang Ninh, the infection has spread to 10 other places, including Hanoi and HCMC, with the tally rising to 276 by Tuesday morning.

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