71 families bear quarantine rigors after diphtheria outbreak

By Tran Hoa   June 28, 2020 | 02:20 pm GMT+7
Regular health checks and disinfecting of homes have become a part of daily life for 71 families quarantined in the Central Highlands following a diphtheria outbreak.
71 families bear quarantine rigors after diphtheria outbreak

Life has changed drastically for the community since their living area in Dak Nong Province was declared a quarantine zone following the death of a nine-year-old girl earlier this month and a dozen others getting infected.

The quarantine zone, located in Dak Nong’s Quang Hoa Commune, Dak Glong District, has two checkpoints, situated on both ends of a residential area where 71 families reside. Each checkpoint has two militia members and a police officer. They rest and have their meals at the checkpoints or in the local cultural center.

All residents in the area belong to the H'mong ethnic minority, said Hoang Van Hau, a militia member. They typically go to work or farm dozens of kilometers away, he added. Now, anyone wanting to get out of the quarantine zone must have legitimate reasons and put it in writing.

71 families bear quarantine rigors after diphtheria outbreak

An unpaved road in Quang Hoa Commune wears a deserted look with no one venturing outdoors. Local residents here have been quarantined for a week or so.

Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial infection that spreads through either the air or direct contact. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, swallowing difficulty and development of white patches in the throat, which could block the airway. Possible complications include myocarditis, kidney problems, respiratory failure, inflammation of nerves, coma and death.

71 families bear quarantine rigors after diphtheria outbreak

Motorbikes are disinfected upon entering or leaving the quarantine zone.

71 families bear quarantine rigors after diphtheria outbreak

Local resident Sung Van Suong (L), 25, requests a checkpoint authority permission to leave the quarantine zone to find grass for his cows. Suong promises to not be in contact with anyone and to return home within one hour.

71 families bear quarantine rigors after diphtheria outbreak

A woman attired in her traditional dress hands over some blocks of fresh tofu to another inside the quarantine zone. People in the zone can order food to be delivered from outside. The transactions have to be completed at the checkpoint with the zone’s inmates required to wear masks.

71 families bear quarantine rigors after diphtheria outbreak

Three children wash their hands before lunch.

Giang Thi Sua, 24, said she did not have the habit of reminding her children to wash their hands and feet every time, but that has changed ever since the diphtheria outbreak was detected.

71 families bear quarantine rigors after diphtheria outbreak

A doctor checks a child’s health in the quarantine zone.

71 families bear quarantine rigors after diphtheria outbreak

A woman has her swab sample taken to test for diphtheria.

Medical workers take samples from those who are suspected to have been in contact with infected cases. As of Sunday morning, medical workers in Dak Nong had taken 572 samples to be tested for diphtheria in total. Over 1,300 people are undergoing preventive treatment as well.

71 families bear quarantine rigors after diphtheria outbreak

A medical worker sprays disinfectants inside a house. They do so twice a day, in the morning and late afternoon.

71 families bear quarantine rigors after diphtheria outbreak

Dak Nong has so far recorded 12 diphtheria cases. All outbreak areas, including Krong No District's Dak Sor Commune and Dak Glong District's Dak R'mang Commune and Quang Hoa Commune, each one dozens of kilometers apart, have now been quarantined.

The diphtheria vaccination rate in Dak Nong is only around 52-65 percent, said Dang Thanh, director of the provincial Center for Disease Control. He attributed this to the H’Mong community not being cooperative about vaccination.

The province vaccinated around 4,800 residents of Quang Hoa, aged 7-40, against diphtheria and tetanus on Saturday. The people of Dak R'Mang are expected to be next.

Last year a seven-year-old girl in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, which neighbors Dak Nong, succumbed to the disease. In 2017 and 2018 six people died in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum and the central province of Quang Nam.

Diphtheria vaccination is part of Vietnam's national immunization program but the regimen is not followed strictly in several areas for various reasons.

 
 
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