Special flight brings Vietnamese citizens home from Equatorial Guinea hinh anh 1Doctors and caregivers from the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases are ready for the special flight (Photo: Vietnam Plus).

Hanoi (VNA) – A working group of the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases, on July 28, boarded an unprecedented flight to Equatorial Guinea, which will repatriate 219 Vietnamese workers, more than half of them having tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The group consists of two doctors and two nurses equipped with all needed medicines and machines for emergency situations. They are set to sit on the same cabin with the 120 COVID-19 patients throughout the 13-hour returning flight from Bata city of Equatorial Guinea to Hanoi.

Tasks assigned to the best

A member of the group, Than Manh Hung, Deputy Head of the hospital’s Emergency Department, said the flight is special, adding that it is full of responsibility and honour to welcoming his fellow countrymen home.

Before boarding, Hung said: “I am proud to undertake the task but also nervous as the risk of infection is too high. However, all four of us have prepared for the worse scenario.”

The high rate of COVID-19 patients coupled with small space on the plane requires the engagement of medical workers, who are experienced in dealing with emergency situations and difficult techniques.

After completing their mission, the group will undergo 14 days of medical quarantine in line with regulations.

According to Director of the hospital Pham Ngoc Thach, the facility has done preparing for receiving the largest number of COVID-19 patients since the disease broke out.

Special flight brings Vietnamese citizens home from Equatorial Guinea hinh anh 2Medical equipment for the flight (Photo: Vietnam Plus).

Special flight

Deputy Director of the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases Nguyen Trung Cap said the flight is unprecedented as the rate of COVID-19 patients abroad accounted for over 50 percent of the total passengers.

Preparations by health experts to ensure safety for the workers, crewmembers and medical personnel have been carried out for weeks before the plane taking off.

According to Cap, there are tonnes of difficulties. The 300-seat plane has to carry 120 patients, hence a very high risk of virus transmission. The small space and differential pressure might cause patients to have respiratory failure during the flight. If the problem occurs, first aid to save the patients will be way harder than being performed on the ground.

“The flight is very different to a similar flight from Wuhan months ago. The flight from Wuhan lasted only four hours and its passengers were yet to test positive for the virus, thus they could stop eating and using the toilet to prevent infections. Meanwhile, this flight lasts for 15 hours. A positive-airway-pressure tent offering clean air has been designed to provide a safe environment for crewmembers to eat and drink, one person at a time,” Cap said.

The design is hoped to reduce the risk of transmission.

Unprecedented number of patients

The flight took off on July 28, returning the next day. After landing at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport, all passengers and crewmembers will be quarantined at the National Hospital for Tropical Disease.

According to Cap, to receive the highest ever number of COVID-19 patients, his hospital has been well prepared, using all of its facility in Dong Anh district, which accommodates between 400 and 500 beds, for the treatment.

Currently, the hospital has more than 100 ventilators, with relevant medicines being ready to use and robotic treatment technologies set to join the doctors.

Approximately 170 medical workers have been mobilised for the special mission./.

In early July, after learning about the spread of the coronavirus among Vietnamese workers at the Sendje hydropower project in Equatorial Guinea, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs asked the Foreign Ministry and the Vietnamese Embassy in Angola and Equatorial Guinea as well as the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control to support businesses to bring the workers home.

Recognising that the pandemic was spreading seriously with a high rate of infection and getting beyond the control of companies, the ministry proposed to the Prime Minister the organisation of a flight to bring all the workers home. The flight was to protect the legitimate rights and interest of the workers and manifest the humanitarian policy of the Party and State.

Shortly afterward, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc requested an immediate flight to evacuate the Vietnamese citizens from Equatorial Guinea and asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ambassadors, and Vietnamese representative offices abroad to do their best to care for all Vietnamese citizens abroad.