Hanoi (VNA) – Breathing a sigh of relief after finishing his quarantine period at the Hanoi-based National Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Vi D. Minh, a native of the central province of Ha Tinh, recalled with tears welling in his eyes the time he and many of his colleagues working in Equatorial Guinea hadn’t known whether or not they would be able to stay alive.
Before being repatriated, he had been tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. At that time, he felt like everything around him was collapsing and the way home became longer than ever, especially in the context that the disease was also breaking out strongly in the host country.
However, Minh and his colleagues’ concerns were eased thanks to the announcement that a repatriation flight would be conducted on July 28 to “rescue” them. They burst with joy as the way home was eventually opened.
“We felt lucky and proud when the Government paid attention, created conditions (for us) to return home,” Minh happily recounted.
They quickly packed their belongings, counted every hour and minute, and looked at the sky to wait for a blue plane from Vietnam to bring them back to the homeland.
The 219 expatriates on board once again burst with happiness when the flight, with up to 50 percent of its passengers (129 people) previously tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, arrived home safely.
That happiness multiplied when Minh and others on that “historic” flight reunited with their families after more than two weeks of mandatory quarantine.
In early September, Flight VN409 landing at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City on September 6 was also special as it carried up to 53 passengers aged under one-year-old among the 403 Vietnamese citizens repatriated from the Republic of Korea. Due to certain disadvantages, their parents who were working in the Northeast Asian nation had to have them brought home first.
These babies received pediatricians’ special care at the isolation ward of the medical centre of Bau Bang district, the southern province of Binh Duong.
These are only two of more than 100 repatriation flights that were all special and full of humanity and care from relevant agencies to safely bring home over 30,000 Vietnamese people in 50 countries around the world to avoid COVID-19.
Flights of hope
In 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak is considered a cyclone sweeping through more than 220 countries, regardless of whether they are rich or poor, big or small, or located in which continents. Many countries shut their borders, making flights rarer. However, in the S-shaped nation, amid the devastating “cyclone”, humanity and the spirit of mutual support have been shown more clearly than ever.
On March 30, 2020, Party General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong issued an appeal, calling on all people both at home and abroad to stay united and have unanimous will and actions to drastically and effectively implement the Party and State’s policies, along with the Government and Prime Minister’s directions, so as to win over the pandemic.
Flights of national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines with their crew and medical workers have braved dangers to reach “epicentres” to bring Vietnamese citizens home, becoming a source of pride in the nation’s spirit of mutual help.
On August 14, 183 of the 219 citizens repatriated from Equatorial Guinea on July 29 returned home after fishing the quarantine period and testing negative for the coronavirus.
Many of them shared the view that setting foot in the homeland meant being alive, and that they believed and put their all trust in Vietnamese doctors.
N.P.T, one of the people allowed to leave the quarantine site on August 14, said at that time, there had been 3,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 50 related deaths in Equatorial Guinea. Vietnamese labourers like him felt like they were in a dilemma, and none of them dared to think about the day they could reunite with their families.
B.V.C, a man contracting SARS-CoV-2 in Equatorial Guinea, said when catching the disease, he had high fever, cough, chest pain and sometimes breath shortness. Like other patients, he had been sent to a local hospital for quarantine and treatment but felt anxious due to cultural and language differences.
Luckily, he was negative for the virus right in the first RT-PCR test when arriving in Vietnam.
Leaving no one behind
Facing the pandemic’s increasingly complex developments, complying with directions of the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat, the Government and the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control are determined to put people’s lives and national interests above all and leave no one behind.
The Party and State have issued suitable and effective anti-COVID-19 solutions for each period, drastically mobilised the engagement of the whole political system, and especially gained consensus and serious involvement of people nationwide.
Following the Party and State’s appeal that “every person is a soldier in the battle against the disease”, people across the country have joined hands in combating the pandemic.
Amid difficulties, values of the “mutual support” spirit and national solidarity have been brought into play via many good deeds.
They can be seen in the flights repatriating citizens in pandemic-hit regions so that no one is left behind; Vietnamese people’s serious adherence to the Party, Government and health sectors’ recommendations; and particularly medical staff working around the clock to treat all patients, regardless of whether they are Vietnamese or foreigners, typically Patient 91 who returned to the UK after more than 100 days of treatment in Vietnam.
Patient 91, a British pilot, underwent 68 days living on a ventilator, and most of the time he had to depend on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), which is only used for the most severe cases.
There were times Patient 91 was close to death when 90 percent of his lungs were condensed and doctors planned a lung transplant. Surprisingly, for the life of a foreigner, more than 60 Vietnamese registered lung donation after learning that he didn’t have any relatives. This was a humane act of Vietnamese people and a clear demonstration of the borderless spirit of mutual support.
After about four months of wholehearted treatment by Vietnamese doctors at the Cho Ray Hospital in HCM city, Patient 91, Stephen Cameron, returned to his hometown in Scotland, the UK.
Doctor Manish Patel, a consultant in respiratory medicine and caring for this patient, said that Cameron is still alive after being unconscious for a long period of time, and receiving care from Vietnamese doctors is really a rarity.
Vietnamese heart shines
The anti-COVID-19 spirit has not been limited to the country, but the Government, ministries, sectors as well as organisations, individuals and businesses have also paid attention to sharing difficulties facing overseas Vietnamese and health systems of other countries, especially those ravaged by the pandemic such as the US, Italy, Spain, China, France, Germany, Russia, India, and neighbouring countries like Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar.
Thousands of tonnes of medical supplies, including face masks, gloves, protective gears, and sanitizer have been presented to other nations by the Government, the Red Cross Society, friendship organisations and enterprises of Vietnam, reflecting the Vietnamese Government and people’s sentiment and sense of responsibility towards friends around the globe.
The unlimited humanity of the Vietnamese people has shined once again and received praise from the international community.
In the spirit of “leaving no one behind”, since early April, the Foreign Ministry’s Consular Department has coordinated with relevant agencies and organisations to operate over 100 flights to bring home tens of thousands of citizens in many countries and territories.
Since COVID-19 broke out, Vietnam has worked with many countries like the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and Canada to organise special flights to repatriate Vietnamese citizens after these countries suspended commercial flights to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
With strong resolve and consideration of citizen protection and repatriation amid the pandemic as not only a political task but also a “command from the heart”, the Foreign Ministry has held and taken part in a number of inter-sectoral meetings with the defence, health and transport ministries to build detailed flight plans and carry out health quarantine and monitoring.
It has been proved that under the leadership of the Party and State, along with directions from the Government, Prime Minister and National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, the whole political system has stayed united to drastically carry out concerted measures to concurrently contain the virus and ensure socio-economic development and social security.
Those encouraging outcomes have illustrated the strength of national solidarity and the entire Party, people and army’s determination in the combat against the pandemic./.