The number of children visiting hospitals in Hanoi is soaring, with the majority involving respiratory illnesses.
Vietnam National Children’s Hospital was overflowing with sick children and their parents on Wednesday morning, with patients facing agonizing wait times.
“My child got sick when the weather in Hanoi turned cold. I gave my child medicine that had been prescribed by a clinic near our home, but it did not help,” said Hue, the mother of a child suffering from a cough and fever.
Tran Thi Hoai Thuong, a resident of Hai Phong, 120km east of Hanoi, also spent Wednesday morning with her child at Vietnam National Children’s Hospital.
Thuong and her child arrived at the hospital at 7:00 am on Wednesday and were given number 43 for their turn. By 10:00 am, doctors had only reached number 27.
“It’s always crowded at the hospital and there are always long waits. The [long waits] make sick children uncomfortable and upset,” said Thuong.
It is not a ‘surge’ though the number of pediatric patients at the hospital has risen, according to a representative from Vietnam National Children’s Hospital.
The representative also noted that the hospital examines about 4,000 child outpatients each day.
The number of childhood patients at other Hanoi hospitals is also on the rise, with Ha Dong General Hospital, Bach Mai Hospital, and Thanh Nhan Hospital all reporting completely full pediatric departments.
Rising respiratory illnesses
The number of newborns and children under six months being put on respirators in order to cope with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is on the rise, according to Dr. Nguyen Thuy Duong, head of the pediatric department of Ha Dong General Hospital,
The symptoms of RSV often mimic those of the flu, Dr. Duong noted.
RSV is a common and contagious virus that causes mild, cold-like symptoms.
It is the a particularly common cause of respiratory hospitalization among infants.
Nguyet, a resident of Ha Dong District in Hanoi who is caring for her newborn at the hospital, said that her child was hospitalized with a cough and fever.
The child was then diagnosed with RSV and respiratory failure and had to be put on a respirator.
“Most of [the children] who are hospitalized have a cough and fever. If patients are not examined in a timely manner, they risk developing obliterative bronchiolitis, pneumonia, and respiratory failure,” Dr. Duong said.
“Because of RSV’s ability to spread quickly, one infected child can transmit the virus to five other children.
"If infected patients are not detected and treated, the disease can threaten their lives and others'.”
RSV is not the only disease wreaking havoc on Hanoi’s pediatric departments.
Cases of both chickenpox and hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) are also climbing.
Hanoi reported 185 cases of chickenpox last week, bringing the total to 985 since the start of the year, according to statistics from the Hanoi Center for Disease Control.
The city also recorded 50 HFMD cases over the past week, taking the count to 298 since the beginning of the year, up 294 cases year on year.
In order to avoid these diseases, doctors have advised against allowing children to gather in public places.
They have also suggested that children wear face masks when venturing out and avoid having close contact with other children who display symptoms of a cough and fever.
Parents should also make sure their children bathe, wash their hands, and consume key nutrients.