Life Life

26/05/2020 - 22:31

“Little guerrillas”

Those female medical officials in the front line against COVID-19 reminded me of “the little guerrilla holding the trifle” in a famous war photo in the past. The only difference was that in this battle, the enemy was not the tall American soldier, but the invisible SASR-CoV-2 virus. In front of that enemy, those weak-looking women soon became courageous and tenacious.

Collecting epidemiological information of people in the isolation area

Medical check-up spots

The Huong Thuy medical check-up spot is located at the gateway to Phu Bai Ward. After going through the outer circle directed by policemen and traffic inspectors, we came to the area for people to have their temperature checked and to announce their health status.

At 8:30 am when we arrived, we saw the nurse Lu Thi Lanh (Huong Thuy Medical Center) behind a thick stack of medical declarations sorting them. She also recorded the number of vehicles and people that went through the spot. She did all that with the help of a group of volunteers from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy who instructed people to fill out the form.

After recorded by Lanh, the form was passed to the students to be recorded again electronically through apps on the smart phone. All the work was done on an assembly line so that it would not take lots of time and more importantly, they would not miss any cases. 

Preparing protective clothing

At 11:45, while less vehicles going through, and the volunteer students were having lunch, Lanh and her two aids tried to finish their recording.

“181 people in the province, 193 from outside, one foreigner and 108 vehicles had gone through,” briefly announced Lanh after her working shift. She said this was just 50% less than the days before when the restriction by the government had not taken effect. 

To achieve that result, we witnessed Lanh sit still working from the morning without stopping for a rest. “I even cannot drink when feeling thirsty because it is dangerous to take off the mask. I don’t want to go to the toilet much, either. I even cannot scratch when my eyes feel itchy because it would be wasteful to throw away a pair of gloves just because of a scratch,” said she.

Hearing what she said, the students joined the joke: "Why didn’t you tell me earlier so that I would recruit a volunteer to scratch for you?” They burst out laughing at such an idea despite their masks and protective screens on their faces. Everyone felt exhausted but light-hearted.

“We are used to this hard work.”

Dr. Phan Nu Dieu Hong, vice-head of the Microbiology Department (Hue Central Hospital) said so with a smile when we asked her about her hard work of analyzing SASR-CoV-2 samples. 


We were present at the Microbiology Department, Hue Central Hospital while the five technicians were getting prepared for their “battle” with around 300 samples to be tested. Dr. Dieu Hong was one of those “warriors.”

When we were putting on our protective clothing to "go to the battlefield" with them, Dr. Hong reminded us about going to the toilet. Simply because once we were “sealed” in that costume, we could not stop to go to the restroom, or to eat, or to drink. 

In case of need, we had to get rid of that protecting costume. No one wanted to do so because protecting clothes were our weapons to defeat COVID-19.

Hue Central Hospital had 10 technicians who directly dealt with the SASR-CoV-2 virus in the laboratory. They were divided into two groups rotating their shifts. Both team leaders were female.

Besides Dr. Phan Nu Dieu Hong, there was also Le Thi Thanh Lan. These two "warriors" were skillful technicians who had been sent to the Pasteur Institution in Ho Chi Minh City to be trained on SASR-CoV-2 testing techniques using Realtime RT-PCR.

“Three out of four female members have children at kindergarten and primary school ages. But their intensity in work during recent days proves that little-looking women can work as well as men,” said Dr. Mai Van Tuan, Head of the Microbiology Department, with contentment about the “little guerrillas” in the laboratory.

“Thank you”

When I’m writing this, 33 days have passed in Vietnam without any infected cases in the community. We all know that “Thank you” is not enough for all the silent yet great sacrifice of the “little guerrillas” and other “soldiers” on the front line against the pandemic. It is hoped that this little article will help spread the courageous yet warm eyes of those whom we met in our work. 

Story and photos: DONG VAN