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Disease outbreaks disrupt Hanoians' lives

By Pham Nga   November 8, 2022 | 03:20 pm PT
Thuy Lien had just recovered from Covid-19 for a second time and gone back to work when another bout of fever and sore throat began.

She had got Covid at the beginning of October, got better and then became infected again. She went back to work when she felt better, but the next day she had a fever of 40 degrees Celsius.

Lien, 31, from Hanoi's Tay Ho District, had to ask her boss to let her work from home.

Her husband was already in hospital with the flu. Her fever did not go away after two days of treatment, and so was also taken to the hospital and placed in the same room as her husband.

Their son missed his parents and cried all night, preventing his grandparents from sleeping.

Lien's father-in-law, nearly 70, had to take his grandson to school every morning for the next several days as the hapless couple lay in the hospital, exhausted and impatient but helpless.

People wait with kids for checkups at the Vietnam National Childrens Hospital in Hanoi in late October. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Nga

People wait with kids for checkups at the Vietnam National Children's Hospital in Hanoi in late October. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Nga

With dengue fever, influenza A and B and Covid all hitting Hanoi simultaneously, many families are struggling to cope just like hers.

According to data from the Hanoi Center for Disease Control, the number of dengue fever cases has risen dramatically since the beginning of October. Every district is infected, and there are an average of more than 1,000 new cases a week, or 3.2 times the number a year ago and more than the average number since 2019.

Lien had to request for sick leave for a third time in a month but intended to take her computer to the hospital because she had too much work to do.

But since her voice was still weak because of the flu and her job requires her to talk frequently, she had to put the work on hold.

"I feel like someone grabbed my hair and drowned me in a river, then pulled me up and drowned me again," she says.

Nguyen Thu Hoai of Thanh Hoa Province is also stressed after both her children fell sick at the same time.

Since her husband works at night the 31-year-old has to take care of them by herself when he is away.

She has to constantly wipe her older son's body to cool down his 40-degree fever and also soothe her crying younger child.

"I stayed up all night five nights in a row though I had the flu as well," she says.

Hoai says she has three sisters but cannot seek their help because they are also busy taking care of their own sick children.

Dr Truong Huu Khanh, an epidemiologist and former head of the Department of Infection and Neurology at the Children's Hospital I in HCMC, says flu and dengue fever come around every year, but people had remained at home for two years because of Covid and did not contract them. But with things reopening now people are likely to contract not only them but also other illnesses, he warns.

"This problem affects many countries throughout the world and not just Vietnam."

A nurse measures the blood pressure of an influenza A patient at the Thanh Nhan General Hospital in Hanoi on July 6, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Chi Le

A nurse measures the blood pressure of an influenza A patient at the Thanh Nhan General Hospital in Hanoi on July 6, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Chi Le

Khanh said people are likely to get influenza A, influenza B, or dengue fever at this time of the year unless they have a very strong immune system, and should be reconciled to the idea that they could get sick.

After staying in the hospital for a week Lien is back at work but still tired and with a huge backlog to clear.

"If I get sick again, it might not be because of a virus but because I have a lot of work to do and a deadline to meet," she says.

 
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