"The entire roads from the first place to Cho Ray Hospital were blocked. Cho Ray doctors acted very quickly. They isolated us into a separate room. After that, we went through several medical examination procedures.’’
After ten days of isolation for treatment at Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Chinese patient Li Zichao was clear of the novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, which has infected tens of thousands of people in China and around the world since it was first recorded in Wuhan in December 2019.
The 28-year-old Wuhan man said he was lucky to receive treatment in Vietnam.
Li was one of the first two 2019-nCoV patients to be confirmed in Vietnam.
On January 28, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health announced that Li had been fully recovered.
He is among three people, the other two being Vietnamese, who have fully recovered and been discharged from the hospital in Vietnam, where there are eleven active cases now.
Meeting with reporters on the afternoon of February 5 at the Department of Tropical Diseases at Cho Ray Hospital, Li recounted his ten days of treatment.
Surprising and fearful moment
Wuhan City, Hubei Province, located in central China, is the place where the new coronavirus has first emerged.
Reports show that the virus started hitting Wuhan in mid-December.
Li’s father, who is currently among the 11 active cases, came to Vietnam on January 13, before China locked down Wuhan to curb the viral spread on January 23.
Li has been in Vietnam for four months during a long business trip of Wuhan Zonse Company, which specializes in health products.
As planned, he would end his working time in Vietnam in January 2020.
The Wuhan man stayed in Vietnam, waiting for his father to fly over to have a tour in Vietnam and they would then return to China to welcome the Lunar New Year.
The two met in Nha Trang, located in south-central Khanh Hoa Province on January 16, but the trip to Vietnam was interrupted after Li’s father was unwell.
“I met my father in Nha Trang and we traveled there. But he started to show signs of fever and health instability. After that, we returned to Ho Chi Minh City. It was my turn to have a fever. We thought it might be serious, so we went to Cho Ray Hospital. At that time, both of us were not feeling well, both of us had a fever,” he told reporters
Li told Tuoi Tre News that when Cho Ray doctors heard about his fever and knew he was visiting from China, they “took actions very quickly.”
“They isolated us in a separate room. After that, we went through a number of medical examinations, including a full-body exam, X-ray, blood test, throat test, and some others like checking for viruses,” he said.
Li added that he and his father initially did not believe that they were infected with the new coronavirus.
Li’s father flew to Vietnam from Wuhan during the days when the situation in the city was still relatively stable, and they did not have any information about the outbreak beginning in mid-December 2019.
He recollected the time of receiving the testing results at Cho Ray: “At that time, we thought that it was very unlikely we were infected with [the novel] coronavirus, and we knew we were infected with the virus two days after the medical examination.”
Li and his father had had a really frightening time being transferred from Binh Chanh Hospital in Binh Chanh District to Cho Ray Hospital in District 5.
“The most terrible stage was the way from the first place [Binh Chanh Hospital] to Cho Ray Hospital. All roads from the first place here [Cho Ray] were blocked. They asked people not to get close, and the health workers were fully insured with masks and other protective gear. And on the way, we were worried because we did not understand. I asked myself, ‘what’s happening to me’?’’
Using Google Translate to communicate
When Li and his father were taken to Cho Ray Hospital, there were initial problems with communication due to the language barrier.
Li said that he had to use Google’s translation tool to talk to Vietnamese doctors.
“We used Google Translate. Then they had a doctor who could speak English, and we could talk directly,” Li recalled.
Lucky to be hospitalized in Vietnam
Until February 5, Li was known to be perfectly healthy, while his father was in isolation in another room.
Every day, they contact each other by phone.
Li’s mother, who is not infected, is also under supervision at District 11 Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.
Recalling the past, Li said that he had been treated enthusiastically, and “they looked after us very carefully and kindly.”
“All the doctors and nurses were very professional. They conducted the checks every day and had very good medical skills. They encouraged us,” the Chinese man said.
During the days of isolation for treatment at Cho Ray, Li went online constantly to update the disease situation in China, where over 800 have been confirmed dead, and the world.
Li said he was worried about people in his homeland, who were fighting hard against the virus.
“The authorities have taken timely actions, and now they are controlling the virus,” he claimed.
Wuhan has been completely isolated since January 23.
Currently, China has also built a field hospital that can accommodate 1,000 beds in Wuhan to cope with the coronavirus epidemic, starting to accept patients from February 3.
Disease prevention continues to be implemented urgently, when other facilities such as exhibition centers have been turned into makeshift hospitals to deal with the current tens of thousands of cases.
“We’re very lucky to be here and treated. Because in Wuhan, there is a shortage of hospitals and beds as there are too many patients. So we should have been in big trouble. We are really lucky to be here and well-treated,” Li said.
Fight the virus, not humans
At a time when the whole world is worried about the epidemic, there is some information being spread on Chinese social networks about Wuhan people being discriminated against by people in other regions, and the Chinese people being discriminated against by people in other countries.
“I can read that information. I think I need to tell people that they should fight the virus, not against Wuhan or Chinese people,’’ he told Tuoi Tre News.