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Special tenure of a Vietnamese diplomat amid concerns over COVID-19 infection

17:13 | 06/07/2020

First Secretary Phan Hoa, who is in charge of Consular Affairs and the Vietnamese community in Mexico has shared her personal experience when carrying out diplomatic work amid the COVID-19 pandemic. More dangerously, she herself was verified as F1 – the person who had direct contact with COVID-19 patient. Vietnam Times would like to share her article in English for readers to know more about the career in diplomacy.    

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special tenure of a vietnamese diplomat amid concerns over covid 19 infection
First Secretary, in charge of Consular Affairs and Vietnamese Community in Mexico Phan Hoa.

Anyone who is on business abroad always wishes for good luck, good health and successful work. We– the diplomats who are under a lot of work pressure but always keep our smiles both in diplomatic and consular work, do too.

During this term, I am in charge of Consular Affairs and the Vietnamese community in Mexico. Vietnamese community here is not too crowded. They are also very affectionate and helpful to each other. Therefore, I am happy to see that everyone is focused on doing business and studying, no case of  disunity in the community reported. 

The COVID-19 - A constant anxiety

Anxiety only began when the COVID-19 struck. My phone often is ringing at midnight because the Vietnamese Embassy in Mexico also concurrently Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize and Guatemala.

special tenure of a vietnamese diplomat amid concerns over covid 19 infection
Secretary Phan Hoa always updated the COVID-19 situation in Mexico on her personal Facebook.

With my responsibility, I tried to answer and support citizens, advised them to be calm and not to travel much during this time, to protect themselves under recommendations by the Ministry of Health of Vietnam.

There many cases who lost their jobs, workers with expired contracts, or stranded tourists, all desire to return home country. The difficulty is that there is no direct flight from Mexico, Panama to Vietnam. To fly back to Vietnam, citizens must transit in a third country such as the US, South Korea, Japan, Canada or France. However, the number of Vietnamese in these countries wishing to repatriate are also huge compared to limited licensed flights.

special tenure of a vietnamese diplomat amid concerns over covid 19 infection
Ms. Phan Hoa and Vietnamese citizens are allowed to return home on June 5.

Finally, after a lot of efforts and cooperation with Vietnamese Embassy in Japan, 6 Vietnamese citizens in Mexico were brought home.  When the flight VN319 safely landed in Da Nang, I felt happy as if I was returning home.

Coping with the pandemic

It was unfortunately that two out of six Vietnamese citizens repatriating from Mexico were positive for coronavirus after testing, who then taken to quarantine facility and received medical treat at Quang Nam General Hospital.

All people in the group and who had contact with the aforementioned duo were also quarantined. I did worried about the boy with pre-existing health problem of cancer, who had shared his apartment with the positive in Mexico for over 10 days waiting for returning flight. However, I believed that when they are repartriated to homeland, Vietnam, they would surely be taken care of by Vietnamese medics to be able to recovery soon and reunited with their beloved families.

special tenure of a vietnamese diplomat amid concerns over covid 19 infection
Ms. Phan Hoa and Vietnamese citizens in protective clothes.

 

I could not hide my anxiety when I received the notice that two positive youngster from the delegation had just arrived in Vietnam. As a Consular officer, I had close contact with the people to send the Embassy's diplomatic note and see them off the country, would be isolated at home for 14 days. I am considered the F1. I'm living with my daughter, so my daughter is F2.

Can you figure out my feelings then? I just want to burst into tears but I dared not because it may overwhelm my child with panic. I craved for a flight to Vietnam for testing so that I and my offspring can enjoy the sedulous care from Vietnamese doctors as same as other suspected Covid-19 patients. The testing procedures in Mexico were not that simple, you are only charged in hospital when you are struggling to breath.

However, I still think about my position as a diplomat. I can not return home any time as I wish because the action is considered deserting.

What did I do during the quarantine?

It took me some initial days feeling so unstable and pressure as quarantinine at home means keeping social distancing with others. I was worried for my daughter situation if I were contracted the virus as she nearly stayed with me all the time in the premise of Vietnam Embassy in Mexico. I started to thinks about sepating from the child, she would sleep in the bedroom and me in the salon in the living room, keep distance at dining table or keep different time zone for dining.

I explained to her about my job and she could temporarily considered me as a Covid-19 patient and keep contact with me from afar, no hugging, no much talking. I wore face masks all the time and used gloves when cooking and doing household works. My daughter acknowledged the situation and join me to fight the horrible epidemic.

On special days of quarantine, I did not catch cough or fever but just had tiredness, headache. I thought it might come from over- thinking leading to the strain. Then I decided follow the list of proper nutrition order that help enhance health including drink lemon, honey, lemongrass in every mornings, take health-promoting pills like: Vitamin C, Zin C, Vitamin D3,Take headache medicine: Tylenol (a form of Paracetamol) for only 5 consecutive days, drink ginger tea with warm water, drink fruit juices including orange, apple, lemon among others.  Gargle with salt water mix in warm water three times a day. Use a dryer, dry the neck, top of the head, along the back of the spine. Sauce lemongrass leaves, lemon leaves, orange peels, lemon peels, mugwort, garlic twice a day, each time from 10 '-15', soak feet with warm salt water ... and especially keep the cheerful spirit and thinking about good things, what I considered the most important factor.

special tenure of a vietnamese diplomat amid concerns over covid 19 infection
Use lemon leaves, locust, orange peel, lemon peel, lemongrass, mugwort to make sauna daily.

Every day I still answer the phone of citizens who wish to return home and write articles for foreign affairs sites as I don't want my brain paralyzed.

So far, after 14 days of isolation, I feel totally healthy again without any headache and fatigue.

I just want to share with you, with the diplomats, the silent front-line "soldiers" and with everyone who is far away from home if unfortunately a Covid-10 suspected patient like me, please be happy to accept and do it by yourself.

For me, this is a special term of service, unforgettable in my life as a diplomat.

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