|Health workers give medicine to home-treatment COVID patients. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — With more and more COVID patients needing only home-treatment, health experts are concerned they are turning to the internet for medical advice, and in some cases taking drugs without knowing the full effects.
A worrying trend has emerged with people selling medicine to treat coronavirus on social media sites. In some cases, posters send messages direct to patients.
Finding out that she tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, Bình (not her real name) updated her status on Facebook. Alongside well wishes from her friends were numerous advertisements for COVID-19 medication.
After doing a little research on social media, Bình spent more than one million đồng (US$44) on antiviral, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Like Bình, Hùng (not his real name) also took to the social network to ask for advice.
He had been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms: fever, loss of smell, cough, sore throat, and rapid heart rate, and therefore considered using the antiviral Molnupiravir.
While many people commenting on his post stressed that it required professional prescriptions to use the antiviral drug, others urged him to use the medicine 'as soon as possible' without knowing if he was suitable to take the drug.
Meanwhile on similar advice-seeking posts, offers to buy drugs are still being shared in the comment sections, with numerous people suggesting that the patient should use additional antibiotics for a 'quick recovery'.
Many patients with mild symptoms, to whom these drugs are not necessary, have been taking the medication on their own, leading to negative health consequences.
Thanh Nhàn Hospital in Hà Nội, one of the key COVID-19 treatment facilities, received a coronavirus patient with mild symptoms who had taken Molnupiravir without a doctor’s prescription.
On the third day of infection, the patient’s condition had worsened and they had to be admitted to the facility for treatment.
Doctor Nguyễn Thu Hường, head of the department for COVID-19 treatment of Thanh Nhàn Hospital said: “Molnupiravir is not some kind of miracle medicine that anyone can use and can be cured of the disease immediately.
“The drug should only be prescribed to patients with a totally functioning liver and kidney.
“Patients with kidney failure of elevated liver enzymes are also not allowed to use the drug, and so medical supervision is required.”
Regarding the rumours that antivirals can protect people against coronavirus and post-COVID syndrome, Doctor Hường said there is no evidence to suggest this is the case.
If a person is infected and strictly follows medical advice, their symptoms quickly wane and they soon test negative. However, current studies do not reveal whether these cases will develop post-COVID syndrome, she added.
Doctor Đồng Phú Khiêm from the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases said: “Antiviral medicine like Molnupiravir, if used on the wrong subjects, will not have the preventive effects against severe illness or post-COVID syndrome like many people claim.
“It can even lead to unwanted side effects later on.
“These are newly developed medicines which have only been prescribed for a short period of time. It is effective in treating COVID-19 patients, but only when their conditions turn severe and need hospitalisation that we take the risk.”
Doctor Hường also advised against the misuse of antibiotics. The type of lung damage caused by COVID-19 is pulmonary fibrosis, she explained, and so antibiotics are only allowed when there are sufficient signs of infection.
Antibiotics are a ‘double-edged sword’ as it is not effective if there is no infection, said Doctor Hường. It might even lead to allergic problems, liver damage, and affect kidney functions, which worsen the patient’s condition, especially during post-COVID.
Doctors recommend that if patients only have mild COVID symptoms, they only need to rest, take supplements to boost immunity, and treat symptoms following the health ministry’s instruction, such as using fever reducers or cough medicines.
If experience any unusual symptoms, the patients need to contact medical facilities to receive appropriate advice and treatment. — VNS
Our officers were called by the East of England Ambulance Service shortly after 1.40am on 23 October 2019, following a 999 call from lorry driver Maurice Robinson.
When our officers arrived at the scene, they made the tragic discovery of 39 Vietnamese victims in the trailer of the lorry.
Throughout the extensive investigation that followed, it was established Damian was part of a wider conspiracy to smuggle people illegally into the UK.
On October 18 that year, lorry driver Christopher Kennedy smuggled a group of migrants to Collingwood Farm in Orsett where they were collected in a Mercedes van that was registered to Damian.
A day later Damian flew into the UK and arrived at Luton Airport where he was picked up by Gheorghe Nica, who headed up the people smuggling conspiracy with Ronan Hughes.
It was anticipated that a further group would arrive at Collingwood Farm in the early hours of October 23.
They arrived in a trailer at Purfleet port at around 1am and collected by Robinson, at which point Damian was waiting at Collingwood Farm in his van to pick them up.
At 1.28am, 11 minutes after Robinson informed Hughes that the migrants had tragically died, Damian drove away from Collingwood Farm and at 7am on the same day left the country from Dover.
On March 30, 2021, an arrest warrant was issued for Damian. He was arrested near Milan in Italy on June 10 and extradited to the UK on September 2.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Louise Metcalfe, said: “Dragos Damian was a key player in an evil people smuggling conspiracy that made money from misery.
“Along with his co-conspirators he knew that what he was doing was dangerous and wrong, but through sheer greed he did it anyway.
“I hope today’s sentence will once again serve as a warning to those who think it is acceptable to prey on the vulnerabilities of those who are seeking a different life for themselves and their families.
“If you take part in and make money from this abhorrent crime, we will find you, we will stop you and you will be sent to prison.
“I also hope that our ongoing commitment to this investigation will bring the families of the victims some comfort in knowing that those involved will spend a significant amount of time in prison. But I know that truthfully, their pain will never go away.
“My thoughts will always be with the families of the victims.”
Martin Grace, NCA Head of Organised Immigration Crime Operations, said: “The gangs involved in organised immigration crime treat people as a commodity to be profited from, without care for their safety or wellbeing. In this case that had tragic and fatal consequences.
“We have worked closely with Essex Police and our international partners from the outset of this investigation, and the NCA’s international liaison network helped ensure Damian was brought back to the UK to be put before a court.
“It demonstrates the reach of UK law enforcement and our shared determination to bring all those involved in this horrendous crime to justice.”
Russell Tyner, Specialist Prosecutor of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This was a devastating case which ended in 39 people losing their lives in the most horrendous way.
“Damian played his part in this criminal enterprise by using his van for people smuggling without a second thought for the consequences or the wellbeing of those being trafficked.
“The CPS would like to thank the work of the Essex Police and National Crime Agency in helping to bring Damian to justice and we will look to pursue confiscation proceedings against any ill-gotten gains the defendant accrued in this activity.
“Our thoughts remain with the families of victims and hope this sentencing bring some small comfort.”