JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.

Life inside Vietnam’s COVID-19 epicenter

Friday, February 14, 2020, 17:53 GMT+7
Life inside Vietnam’s COVID-19 epicenter
A police officer is stationed at a checkpoint near an entrance to Son Loi Commune in Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam in this photo taken on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

Even before a commune in the northern Vietnamese province of Vinh Phuc was shut off from the outside world, villagers struggled to cope with the reality that a handful of their neighbors had been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), out of Vietnam’s 16 confirmed cases.

Vinh Phuc is struggling with its new 'reputation' as the epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic in Vietnam as news continues spreading that 11 out of the country’s 16 diagnosed cases hail from the province.

Three of the infected patients in Vinh Phuc have recovered so far while the remaining continue their battle against the virus.

Six of Vinh Phuc’s COVID-19 patients reside in Son Loi, a commune of 10,600 people in Binh Xuyen District that has been sealed off for 20 days from Wednesday for quarantine.

Before the lockdown, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper’s reporters made it to Ai Van, a small village in Son Loi, to see first-hand how villagers are coping with the uncertainty of life in the now-quarantined commune.

An empty street in Ai Van Village in Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam is seen in this photo taken on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

An empty street in Ai Van Village in Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam is seen in this photo taken on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

According to the Ministry of Health, Ai Van Village is home to a three-month-old baby girl who was confirmed as Vietnam’s 15th and youngest COVID-19 patient on Tuesday, allegedly having contracted the virus from her grandmother.

Authorities suspect the grandmother had been in close contact with N.T.D., a 23-year-old woman recently returning to Vietnam after attending a vocational training seminar in the central Chinese city of Wuhan - ground zero for the COVID-19 outbreak.

D. was confirmed to be infected on January 30, after having interacted with many family members and neighbors between her arrival on January 17 and her hospitalization on January 25.

A banner with a slogan on COVID-19 prevention is hung in Ai Van village in Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam in this photo taken on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

A banner with messages about COVID-19 prevention is hung in Ai Van Village, Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam in this photo taken on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

From the village’s entrance, loudspeakers were blasting radio broadcasts providing updates on the COVID-19 epidemic.

Warnings printed on red-and-yellow banners calling on residents to seek “immediate” medical care upon any sign of pneumonia-like symptoms were hung on most street corners inside the village.

It was rare to spot villagers without face masks.

The general atmosphere was tense even before the lockdown, as businesses had been closed for weeks and only a few eateries were still welcoming guests.

Pham Van Bon, a neighbor of a family in Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam with four members already infected with the novel coronavirus, is photographed wearing a face mask on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

Pham Van Bon, a neighbor of a family in Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam with four members already infected with the novel coronavirus, is photographed wearing a face mask on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

“At first, everyone was anxious out of fear that the virus could be transmitted through the air,” said Pham Van Bon, a 53-year-old neighbor of N.T.D.

“But doctors came to the village and said it can only be transmitted between humans through respiratory droplets from infected people as they breathe, cough, or sneeze.”

According to 51-year-old Tran Thi Chung, her children, who work at local factories, are on temporary leave due to COVID-19.

Having recently ordered boxes of face masks from the south, Chung said her only wish was that pharmacies would restock their supplies of face masks, a hope that will not likely come to fruition amid the nationwide face mask shortage.

Nguyen Van Huu, a steel factory worker, feeds his children at their home in Son Loi Commune in Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam as he is under home quarantine on his company’s request in this photo taken on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Huu, a steel factory worker, feeds his children at their home in Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam as he is under home quarantine on his company’s request in this photo taken on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Quyen, a police officer stationed at a checkpoint at an entrance to Son Loi Commune, said that similar checkpoints had been established at all entrances to the commune and were in operation 24 hours a day.

On-duty officers were tasked with measuring the body temperature of people who entered and exited the commune, instructing people on how to wear face masks, and noting down the names of those who failed to do so.

A man has his body temperature checked by a police officer at a checkpoint set up at an entrance to Son Loi Commune in Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam in this photo taken on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

A man has his body temperature checked by a police officer at a checkpoint set up at an entrance to Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam in this photo taken on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

The novel coronavirus disease, officially named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday, has killed 1,383 people and infected over 64,400 globally since it first surfaced in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei Province in December 2019, according to the South China Morning Post.

Vietnam has so far confirmed 16 cases of the viral infection, including 13 Vietnamese, one Vietnamese American, and two Chinese.

Among them, seven have fully recovered. They were all treated for free.

A resident burns rubbish in Ai Van village in Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam in this photo taken on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

A resident burns rubbish in Ai Van Village, Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam in this photo taken on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

A house in Ai Van village in Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam is locked from the outside as its residents had been relocated to a quarantine zone in this photo taken on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

A house in Ai Van Village, Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam is locked from the outside as its residents has been relocated to a quarantine zone in this photo taken on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

A banner with a slogan on COVID-19 prevention is hung in Ai Van village in Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam in this photo taken on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

A banner featuring guidance on COVID-19 prevention is hung in Ai Van Village, Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam in this photo taken on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

Pham Thi Trang, a resident in Ai Van Village in Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam, sprinkles calcium hydroxide in front of her house for disinfection on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

Pham Thi Trang, a resident in Ai Van Village, Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam, sprinkles calcium hydroxide in front of her house for disinfection on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

An empty street in Ai Van Village in Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam is seen in this photo taken on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

An empty street in Ai Van Village, Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam is seen in this photo taken on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

Residue of calcium hydroxide used for disinfection is seen on plants in Ai Van village in Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam in this photo taken on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

Residues of calcium hydroxide used for disinfection are seen on plants in Ai Van Village, Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam in this photo taken on February 11, 2020. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

A resident buys groceries at a vegetable stand owned by Nguyen Thi Thang in Ai Van Village in Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

A resident buys groceries at a vegetable stand owned by Nguyen Thi Thang in Ai Van Village, Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Hung, a resident in Ai Van Village in Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam, is photographed wearing a face mask on February 11, 2020. Hung, whose family business has been affected by COVID-19, says he is concerned about not having enough face masks. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Hung, a resident in Ai Van Village, Son Loi Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam, is photographed wearing a face mask on February 11, 2020. Hung, whose family business has been affected by COVID-19, says he is concerned about not having enough face masks. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to get the latest news about Vietnam!

Tuoi Tre News

More

Read more

;

Photos

VIDEOS

Experience summer sand-boarding in Mui Ne

Sand-boarding, a popular activity amongst local children in the coastal tourism town of Mui Ne in south-central Vietnam, is attracting hundreds of tourists to the Red Sand Dunes

Young maple trees given better protection as Hanoi enters rainy season

The trees are currently growing well, with green leaves and healthy branches.

Hunting skinks for food in southern Vietnam

Skink meat is known to be soft, tasty, and highly nutritious.

Vietnamese-made app allows people to grow real veggies via smartphone

Nguyen Thi Duyen, a young engineer in Hanoi, developed the app and its related services to help busy people create their own veggie gardens.

Chinese tourists hit by Vietnamese over dine and dash

Four Chinese were reportedly injured, with one having a broken arm.

Latest news