Doctors work to treat COVID-infected drug addicts

September 09, 2021 - 08:00

Phạm Phú Bình, a doctor at a quarantine and treatment area for drug addicts who have coronavirus in Nha Trang City, central Khánh Hoà Province, has become used to dispensing medicine to addicts in the area.

Medical staff give medicine to drug addicts in a quarantine and treatment area in Nha Trang City, central coastal province of Khánh Hoà. — Photo

KHÁNH HOÀ — Phạm Phú Bình, a doctor at a quarantine and treatment area for drug addicts who have coronavirus in Nha Trang City, central Khánh Hoà Province, has become used to dispensing medicine to addicts in the area.

Bình said on his first day when the quarantine area was set up on August 16, he was stressed as he was surrounded and attacked by the patients who could not resist their urge to take drugs and would seek any way possible to escape quarantine.

“Luckily, I have no wounds,” he said. “If I had an open wound, I could get infected with HIV or AIDs from the patients.”

After that first day, Bình said he had to go with security forces when he gave medicine to the patients each day.

“The mood of the patients was very unstable and they would attack medical staff any time if they were in need of drugs,” he said.

Bình said he and his colleagues had two tasks at the same time – helping patients quit drugs and giving them COVID-19 treatment.

When patients have an addiction, the doctors have to support them to cut off their drug addiction and give them psychological and health advice, he said. Most of the patients in the quarantined area are in a state of extreme fatigue due to drug addiction.

He said that doctors and medical staff had to provide the patients with appropriate nutrition to improve their immune system,

“Not only doctors and medical staff but also security forces, including soldiers and police, in the quarantine area have to work very hard,” according to Nhân Dân (People) online newspaper.

The police are on duty 24 hours a day to ensure the patients do not escape from the quarantine area to seek drugs, while the soldiers have to prepare meals for the patients.

Major Nguyễn Văn Chí Công said he and the security staff were always in a state of readiness to respond to the unusual behaviour of the patients.

He said that a few days ago a COVID-19 patient, suffering intense withdrawal symptoms, climbed over a fence to escape. The security force had to search for the patient all night.

When we caught the patient, who was not wearing a mask, a number of security staff received injuries because the patient badly scratched them, causing the security staff’s gloves to be torn, he said. The security force had to carefully disinfect their hands, feet and shoes.

“Luckily, we caught the patient. If he had successfully escaped, he would be a danger to the community,” he said.

Lieutenant Colonel Võ Thành Tâm, deputy political officer of Nha Trang City Military Command, said the security force knew it was a heavy and dangerous task.

“We have to work in an environment with a high risk of infection, bearing the heat all day from wearing medical protective clothing and the stress of always being ready to control the drug addicts,” he said. “But we always try our best to overcome all difficulties to treat the patients well.”

An quarantined and treatment are was established on August 16 in Phước Đồng Commune, Nha Trang. On August 26, the area was relocated to a dormitory in Nha Trang College of Engineering and Technology.

The quarantine and treatment area is co-managed by the city’s Military Command, the city’s Police Department and the medical force of the provincial drug rehabilitation facility.

The area has 150 beds and is currently treating 55 drug addicts with coronavirus, and 46 drug addicts who have had direct contact with coronavirus patients.

The provincial police department said that the province had more than 1,000 drug addicts, mostly in Nha Trang.

According to police, there is a high risk of coronavirus infection among addicts in the community because their residence is unstable and they move constantly.

As such, police have been sending the drug addicts to the quarantine and treatment area as a way to prevent COVID-19 transmission in the wider community. — VNS