Three hospitals in the city have been locked down as hotspots of COVID-19, and doctors, medical workers and nurses had to stay to care for patients. Tri shared his night diary in the lockdown zone, showing the strong spirit among colleagues and patients as well as the community in the fight against coronavirus.

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Facade building of the C Hospital in Da Nang City. The hospital was locked down as an isolation site for COVID-19 treatment. The first COVID-19 patient was found at the hospital. Photo courtesy of Dang Van Tri 

It’s night time and we had a moment to talk to our family after an overloaded working day supporting COVID-19 patients and their relatives at the lockdown hospital zone downtown.

It’s the first time the three major hospitals – the General Hospital, the C Hospital and Cardiovascular Centre sandwiched between Quang Trung and Hai Phong streets – have experienced lockdown since the coronavirus pandemic hit the country and the world.

Da Nang locked down all three hospitals four days after the first COVID-19 patient tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on July 24. More than 1,000 medical workers, doctors, patients and their relatives at our C Hospital had to face a new situation – life in the lockdown zone.

Many people were wondering how we could live and work in the zone when all entrances and approaches seemed to be shut at the hospital gate.

We were given keys for the three entrances of the hospital, but I understood that the door will only be opened after the two-week lockdown ends.

We had to begin living away from home behind the closed gate. All of us tasted life away from family and children for the first time, and we had to do everything ourselves like cooking and cleaning while taking care of patients and their relatives.

The lockdown overturned our body clock with working time, medical consultation meetings, sleeping and visiting patients in a 24-hour work schedule. We almost forgot our daily routine at the hospital and with our families at the weekend. Our main concern is how to care for COVID-19 patients as best we can and to help their relatives keep a positive spirit while dealing with this most difficult time. We have to work with a strong determination to beat COVID-19 by every means.

Our sense of time disappeared as all eyes kept watching the patients' moves and monitoring signals to save them from death. It was really our uninterrupted race with death. Time disappeared in our mind as we had late and quick lunch and dinner together; even sleeping time was broken off when we heard calls from the patients' beds.

The patients need us and we stay side by side with them against COVID-19. We built trust and confidence among patients on the edge of life and death.

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An isolation zone of a hospital in Da Nang for treatment of COVID-19 patients. Four hospitals in the city were locked down as COVID-19 hotspots. VNS Photo Vo Van Dung  

Despite the difficulties in the lockdown time, we still waited for lunch or dinner even it’s too late in a day and medical consultation meetings were taken together as usual. The COVID-19 time brought us closer than ever as we knew that only by holding hands could we build up a strong spirit and be brave in the fight against coronavirus.

Lockdown raised our basic instincts and skills in existence in the pandemic-hit society as all doctors experienced the first time.

We almost did not have any skills to cook for ourselves as we used to reserve time in the medical facilities for caring for patients each day. But now we had to arrange nutrition plans for seriously ill patients, especially patients with diabetes, hypertension or kidney failure. We even did both, caring for COVID-19 patients while preparing appropriate food for them to eat healthily. It’s a really tough job for us – doctors dancing on the kitchen floor.

Technology is seen as the most effective solution for us in caring for COVID-19 patients in limited communication conditions, as protective uniforms could save us from being infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Online applications have helped us host meetings and share consultations on seriously ill patients. Camera systems help us keep a 24-hour watch on every COVID-19 patient, and any alarming signals or emergency calls from patients or relatives are rapidly responded to by doctors and nurses.

Our chances to talk to our families have been few and far between, only quick talks or video calls on smartphones. Family burdens are being carried by wives or husbands as we can't go home, even for a moment.

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Doctors and nurses in the central city of Da Nang. Photo courtesy An Binh 

We do not know when the entrance gate of the hospital will open for us to go home, but we strongly believe that COVID-19 will be the loser.

We must win the fight against COVID-19. That’s the only way home for both doctors and patients. And we’ll keep fighting to the end. VNS          

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