*This is a photo of the food provided by the hospital in Vietnam
It was mid-March when COVID-19 started hitting the UK seriously. We all knew the virus existed and that it was affecting places like Wuhan, but up until then, within the school community, it was never a big concern of ours. I only flew back to Hanoi because school closed and because flights were being cancelled left and right and because I didn’t know what else to do— everyone else was doing the same thing. I wasn’t really concerned about the virus; I took precautions and I knew about the alarmingly high numbers of the infected, but I never thought it would do anything more than cancel my A-levels.
And then I got the virus.
After a 12-hour flight back from Britain, I landed, went through customs, and was driven directly to the quarantine camps on a military van with thirty other people. So within two days, I was put into a concentrated camp. While I was there, I read a book, face-timed some of my friends, and was zipped up into a hospital.
The details get kind of blurry here. One of the friends who was traveling with me had a fever, and because he tested positive for the Coronavirus at the hospital, the rest of my friends and I had to get tested as well. I remember hospital staff poking something down my throat and up my nostrils and taking my blood. Then I woke up to a nurse handing me a blue protective suit, telling me to cover up my hair, to say goodbye to my roommate, and to follow her.
The treatment itself wasn’t anything specific. Doctors were just looking to do whatever they could to keep patients like me in a kind of stable state that they could control. I had a nurse checking up on me every morning, asking me how I was doing and handing me pills accordingly throughout the day. Like, for instance, if I had a cough, they’d give me cough syrup. If I had a fever, they’d give me meds to cool down and a towel for my forehead. It all sounds easy. The treatment itself, from what I experienced, didn't differ much from that of a common cold; what was different was that I had my own assigned doctors, I had a new test-kit once every two days and I took lung CT scans. They kept a very close eye on me. The entire process took 10 days, and after that, I was sent back to another quarantine camp for 14 days, where I eventually tested negative.
I’ve been home for a week now, and I’ve had some time to just think back on the entire experience. I think no one really knows exactly how dangerous the virus is, because it affects everyone so differently and on such varying levels of intensity. I was very lucky to be given immediate treatment, and I was only infected with a very very small concentration of the virus. But I know how scary it is to hear that you’ve got COVID-19, and I can only imagine how much harder it is for other people who are not getting the treatment that they need.
But we all have to stay positive.
One of the reasons why I got better so quickly was because when I was led to a hospital wing completely reserved for infected patients, everyone was fine. None of them seemed like they were being attacked by this scary disease. Sure, they had fevers and coughs and moments of exhaustion, but they were optimistic— they were talking and exercising and studying like normal. They were all ready to fight, and had prepared a mindset to do so. I believe that if all of us can do that, we’ll be just fine.
Written By: Cam Nguyen