COVID-19: Catholic doctors and associations helping the Vietnamese population

by Tran Hung

The number of cases is not declining. Local authorities and Catholic associations are coping with the fourth wave. An emergency hospital has been built in Bắc Ninh province. The Bishops’ Conference is urging dioceses to help pay for the vaccines.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Vietnam is struggling to keep the numbers of new coronavirus cases down. As of yesterday, the country has reported 9,635 cases.

Thousands of doctors, nurses, volunteer medical students and young Catholics have joined a series of initiatives to cope with the fourth wave of infections.

Local authorities and Catholic associations are concentrating their efforts in some provinces in northern Vietnam, in places like Bắc Giang, which has reported some 3,000, and Bắc Ninh, the second most affected area with 1,164 cases.

Recently, in the latter, local authorities have built an emergency hospital that can accommodate up to 3,000 patients.

Ms Tô Thè M. Hoa, director of the Provincial Department in Bắc Ninh, explained that “The treatment system of the province’s general hospital and its field hospitals is connected with the system of central hospitals.”

Doctors, nurses and pharmacists working with the Department of Infectious Diseases have been sent to the most affected communities to assist and treat the sick.

Most of them work under spartan conditions, without dining and resting facilities. Fortunately, none of the health personnel have been infected.

“The greatest joy for us is seeing the sick healed, discharged from hospital to return to their families in good spirit and good health,” said Dr Phạm Minh Mạnh, head of the Department of Infectious Diseases, speaking AsiaNews.

“They often call us or text us to ask how we are doing and to encourage us,” he added. “We have also received praise and encouragement from relatives, friends and colleagues from all over Vietnam. Local authorities and state agencies are also supporting us in these difficult times.”

Further south, more than 400 cases have been reported in Ho Chi Minh City. Local authorities have proposed a support package worth more than a billion dong (more than US$ 43,500) for those in a difficult financial situation, including, for example, many street vendors.

Yesterday, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam urged dioceses, congregations and parishes to contribute financially to vaccine purchase programmes as well.

So far, several religious organisations have made their facilities available (especially schools and large buildings) to house people forced into isolation.

The Diocesan Caritas and some congregations of nuns are helping people with free meals.