We medics will keep marching forward in this deadly battle

May 17, 2021 | 05:00 pm PT
Tran Van Phuc Doctor
May 7 was a very sad day for me and all healthcare workers across Vietnam.

One of our colleagues passed away due to anaphylaxis after getting a Covid-19 vaccine shot while at the same time a series of medical defense lines were breached by the virus.

Nine hospitals in northern and central Vietnam have been placed under lockdown after they became Covid epicenters, including the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi, a frontline medical facility in the fight against the pandemic. Its first case was a doctor who was tested when going abroad for a business trip.

The hospital where I work started its vaccination program on April 26.

The first shots were given to the directors, heads of departments, doctors, nurses, and administrative staff.

That day we greeted each other by asking, "Have you got the shot?" The next day some people had to call in sick. The day after that our greeting was: "Any fever? Body pain?"

It seemed that everyone more or less had suffered from side effects like body pain and fever, but most came to the hospital and served patients.

The morning of May 7, when K Hospital in Hanoi was placed under lockdown, I took a tour around my hospital, passing through the area where people are screened for outward signs and symptoms of Covid and a sequestered area where those with cough and fever are checked.

That afternoon my hospital released a list of people required to come immediately to the sequestered area because they had come into contact with people from K Hospital. They were also told to prepare for quarantine if their first test result was positive.

Now the disease is spreading at an alarming rate in Vietnam, and last week, for the first time since the pandemic broke out in the country, we recorded more than 100 cases in a day.

In any pandemic, the healthcare sector is on the frontline and each medic is a soldier.

Covid is attacking the entire human race, and we medics have to stay alive and fight to win this war.

And in any pandemic, a vaccine is the most critical weapon to fight the pathogen. Most healthcare workers have been willing to take a risk and volunteered for a first dose of the Covid vaccine.

There has been criticism that some medical workers might have let their guard down when working in Covid-hit areas and ended up getting the disease, and have then been spreading it to patients who are hospitalized for other ailments.

But as a healthcare worker, I would never criticize my colleagues for such a mistake.

In this line of work, we all understand that none of us can predict what could happen, and we are aware of all the risks we face at hospitals.

Doctors at Cu Chi Field Hospital for Covid-19 in HCMC. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

Doctors at Cu Chi Field Hospital for Covid-19 in HCMC. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

Since the pandemic broke out, there have been so many stories about doctors and nurses who perished on the frontline.

On April 28 renowned infectious diseases specialist and a professor at Rutgers University in the U.S., Rajendra Kapila, passed away at 83 after contracting Covid in his home country, India.

In early May, Indian doctor Vivek Rai killed himself at the age of 35 after a bout of depression due to dealing with too many critical Covid patients and seeing them die.

Given what has happened in India, I think no matter how strong Vietnam's frontline is, there is no way the country can avoid a Covid tsunami.

In this pandemic, the war ahead is still a long one, but humans have already learned ways to live alongside the virus because that is what we all do: we continue striding ahead no matter what happens.

Our comrades might have fallen, but we soldiers will keep fighting this war.

Amid more and more sad news that kept arriving, I was happy last weekend to see one of my patients with a bright smile. A few months ago I was the one who told him he was in the early stages of colon cancer. I then performed an operation on him, and now he is completely recovered.

His smile helped me realize that all medics' efforts will pay off at the end.

*Tran Van Phuc is a doctor at St. Paul Hospital in Hanoi. The opinions expressed are his own.

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