Illustration by Trịnh Lập
by Nguyễn Mỹ Hà
It was quite shocking to watch a video clip of Belgian medics standing in line to officially greet the country's prime minister at Saint Pierre's Hospital. As a silent act of protest, the medical staff in white and green each turned their backs as the PM's car rolled passed.
Belgium is among the countries worst hit by the pandemic. Last week it had recorded more than 9,000 deaths from more than 55,000 confirmed cases, with nearly 15,000 recovered. According to Coronavirus Watch, this equates to a mortality rate of one in every six confirmed cases, among the highest in the world.
In a time of crisis, the situation must be truly dreadful if medical staff are forced to protest.
Among the numerous comments below the disturbing video posted on the Telegraph's website, those who took the time to write disagreed with their actions.
"Unprofessional" was one word bandied in more than a few comments. Those who disagreed with the protest said that if the medical staff needed help, they should get together as one to request more support, such as urging the government to hire more workers for "unqualified help" such as changing bed sheets, helping the patients up and down and cleaning, so the nurses can focus on their main tasks.
The government of Belgium, among others in the developed world, has been criticised for its ineffective handling of the situation despite having an advanced healthcare system and financial resources.
Every day you see and read about communities providing assistance to frontline medical staff so they can save more people from COVID-19, the deadly pandemic that has killed more than 300,000 people worldwide over the past four months.
We were touched by 100-year-old Captain Jim Moore, a WWII veteran who started out taking a walk around his garden hoping to raise 1,000 pounds but ended up raising 33 million to support the National Health Service in the UK.
We were also delighted to read that some Michelin-starred restaurants have been providing delicious food for the exhausted medics in New York City, the worst-hit city in the world's worst-hit country.
We may have found it unbelievable to read that 40 people in Việt Nam were willing to donate part of their lungs to a critical English patient who remains in hospital here.
This positive news sends a message that people are helping each other to hang in there and get through this difficult time.
The west has been extremely sceptical about how Việt Nam has been handling the situation.
In almost every positive-sounding piece of reporting, there has been the constant question: does the number truthfully reflect the reality? They asked the questions, then they were answered by western citizens living in Việt Nam, specifically more than 100 US experts based at CDC in Việt Nam and someone from Australian Chamber of Commerce attache.
Even Reuters sent out people to call all 13 morgues in Hà Nội to find out if there had been a surge in deaths in recent months.
Every time a foreign newspaper or TV station reports on Việt Nam and its efforts to contain the virus, trace the original source of contamination, test all the relevant possible F1 cases and quarantine all F2 cases at home, the inevitable question always arises: Is the number fake?
This repetition shows how the west views Việt Nam. Some overenthusiastic reporters have even praised the fact Việt Nam has reported no deaths thus far thanks to, you got it, Confucius philosophy!!!.
Putting the well-being of others before one's self, the strict one-party political system, the old hepatitis vaccinations that left a little scar on everyone who had it, and last, but not least, the unhygienic way of living that has somehow strengthened our immune systems.
In global rankings and charts, it's not uncommon to see Việt Nam name further down the list. On the coronavirus list, you will also see Việt Nam closer to the bottom, but it is good to stay low and humble.
After the US media reported that the number of Americans who have died from COVID-19 is higher than the number who died in Việt Nam during the US-Việt Nam War, many said the US should have taken note and learnt from Việt Nam.
Việt Nam has been trying hard and sacrificing economic gains to save its people. Measuring its own limited resources and weak public hospitals, its low doctor per patients ratio and a very small number of ICUs for the entire population, it's trying its best within its limits. Việt Nam has never wanted to teach anyone anything. If our achievements can be of any help, we would be glad to share them.
Just last week, an article in French-language magazine VIF by Daniel Tanuro, a member of the Anti-Capitalist Left reviewing the Belgian government's plans, response and actions to prevent the spread of coronavirus, critically disapproved of the government's actions that he said put people's lives at risk. Titled, "Coronavirus: More than 8,000 deaths in Belgium, a state crime!", the article appeared online but was later removed from the magazine's website.
Blaming the government's hesitation on defining the sources that spread coronavirus, testing and earlier lockdown on the "capitalist's" productivism and extractivism, the author provided his own calculation comparing the situation with neighbouring countries, who are not in any sense less capitalist than his own: Belgian could have kept the mortality number below 800.
This analysis has its valid points, but during this time, the frontline medics don't need people casting blame while they are trying to save lives.
Governments should be held accountable for their efforts or lack thereof in trying to protect people from a natural disastrous pandemic like this, but again, that process can wait.
Now we should be using our time to support medics to make sure they stay safe while they are doing their jobs instead of lining up to turn their backs on a potential source of help. VNS