Vietnamese woman's story of surviving the virus that causes global fears

By Le Hoang   February 5, 2020 | 08:00 pm PT
Vietnamese woman's story of surviving the virus that causes global fears
Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, first nCoV patient to be discharged from hospital in Vietnam, has been put under a two-week quarantine at home in Thanh Hoa Province. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Son.
A 25-year-old Vietnamese woman could not believe she had contracted the deadly new coronavirus that has claimed hundreds of lives in China.

On January 24, a week after she just came back from a training program in Wuhan City, China's Hubei Province, Nguyen Thi Thu Trang developed a fever and cough and had difficulty breathing. She went to the Thanh Hoa Hospital of Tropical Diseases in the eponymous north central province for a checkup and was kept there.

During the three-day quarantine at the hospital when she waited for her test results, Trang was optimistic since she "didn’t go anywhere and contact with locals was limited" while in Wuhan.

When the positive result came, she said, "I was shocked, because I just read on the news that China had many cases they couldn't cure."

She suspects she caught the infection either at immigration points at airports in China or at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi when she was flying back home for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Trang was quarantined by herself in what was a room with four beds.

Every day she battled between staying strong and positive and being bombarded with the latest information about new cases and deaths.

A doctor at Thanh Hoa Hospital of Tropical Diseases checked on Thu Trang where she was hospitalized for 10 days starting January 24. Photo by VnExpress/To Ha

A doctor at the Thanh Hoa Hospital of Tropical Diseases checks on Nguyen Thi Thu Trang when she was hospitalized for 10 days from January 24, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/To Ha.

At night, "I felt empty, frustration consumed me and it made me feel scared."

It was the first time she had spent Tet in a hospital.

"My mother came to visit me, but we could only speak on the phone. At times I just wanted to escape the hospital and go home because I was so sad that I can't describe in words."

After a couple of days with the coronavirus, she began to pull herself together. She started reading and listening to music, maintained a regular diet and took the medicines prescribed by the doctors.

She was visited by doctors every day, but since everyone wore a face mask and only the eyes were visible, no one knew how anyone looked. Communication was at a minimum.

On the seventh day of her treatment, Trang's cough and fever had gone. A test result showed she was negative for the virus. But doctors tested her a second time three days later to be sure, and it showed the same result.

"I couldn't believe my recovery was that fast." She thinks in addition to appropriate treatment, having a optimistic outlook also played a therapeutic role.

On Monday Trang was discharged from the hospital amid euphoria shared by those who cared for her and her family.

She feels like she was released from an "arduous journey" that seemed endless.

Nguyen Van Ly, her father, is relieved because he "no longer feels anxiety and fear and other villagers do not avert looking at my family any more."

The following day Trang was on her way home to Noi Ha village in Thanh Hoa, where almost everyone was wearing a mask. The roads had been disinfected. The village speaker was giving locals updates on the outbreak and informed them about preventive measures.

Though Trang has recovered, she has to remain quarantined at home for 14 days. She plans to return to work in the northern province of Vinh Phuc after the quarantine is over.

Trang had been one of eight employees her company, Japanese-owned Nihon Plast Company Limited, sent for training in Wuhan last November. They returned to Vietnam by Southern China Airlines flight CZ8315 on January 17.

Five of them were infected with the new coronavirus. The rest are still under treatment.

There are 10 confirmed cases in Vietnam so far, and besides Trang, two others have also been discharged from hospital, a Nha Trang hotel employee and a Chinese man who works in Vietnam and contracted it from his visiting father.

Authorities have said treatment will be free for nCoV patients.

As of Wednesday the number of people in quarantine with suspected symptoms had dropped to 78 from 90 the previous day.

More than 400 others who had come into close contact with infected patients also remain under observation.

As of Thursday morning the global death toll was 565 out of the number of confirmed cases of over 28,200, mostly in mainland China. So far 1,170 people have recovered.

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