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Family’s hell at bird flu deathbed

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Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 13 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 13 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and wrote about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

So, given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views may well have changed in the last 13 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find utterly cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

Nguyen Thi Ngoan grasps the surgical mask closer to her mouth, stifling a sob. In a nearby hospital bed, behind a door marked ‘quarantine’, her younger brother lies prostrate, his feet curled up in agony as he struggles for breath. The only thing keeping him alive is the hose leading from his mouth to a ventilator.

‘The doctors told us he had bird flu on Friday,’ Thi said yesterday. ‘We are really scared because we know it is a very serious disease. He has pains in his chest and his back. Every now and then he asks me to give him a massage. We are praying he will recover.’

Unfortunately, doctors in Hanoi’s tropical diseases institute do not expect Sy Tuan, 21 – the eighteenth person to be infected with the deadly bird flu virus in Vietnam this year – to live through the weekend.

That is not the worst of it, however. In the bed beside him, observing his death throes, lies his 14-year-old sister, Nhung. The day after he was transferred to Hanoi from a hospital near their home in Thaih Binh province, 100 miles south-east of the capital, she succumbed to a high fever and has joined him in quarantine.

Now imagine this millions of times over. Only the hospital services won’t be able to cope, so people will be dying at home, struggling in agony for their last breaths without the aid of a ventilator.

It’s a horrific image, but if (when?) the next bird ‘flu pandemic hits, it could well become reality. And it’s looking increasingly likely that it may happen sooner rather than later.

This 397th post was filed under: News and Comment.

More posts worth reading

Swan in the marina (published 22nd February 2019)

Cortado (published 20th February 2019)

Room with a view (published 18th February 2019)

Website (Part Two) (published 30th July 2003)

Review: The Truth About Cruise Ships by Jay Herring (published 25th July 2012)

Photo-a-day 15: Scary fish (published 15th January 2014)

Moaning about NHS Mail’s terrible user interface (published 19th April 2011)


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