Sunday 22 March 2020

Love In The Time Of Corona: Part I

Recently we were advised that we had to begin practising self-isolation, in earnest. Why? One of our colleagues had gone out to a local bar, with a lot of other folks. Turns out a minimum of one of those folks (patient 91) was soon to be diagnosed as Corvid-19 positive. 

With an abundance of caution we were advised to hunker down and follow the guidelines provided by our Administration team. The way it works is that the first person diagnosed is an F0; patient zero, if you will. Next in line is an F1 - our very own Corona Girl (I won’t use her real name since she more than adequately does that all by herself) falls into this category. Eventually, since my Administration team did not publish the list of F2 people at our school, I determined I was an F4 - not bad, but not great.

Those guidelines advised me to avoid my family members, like not sleeping with them and wearing a mask. The latter is a no brainer, but not sleeping with them was going to be a lot harder. We still breast feed and it is simply easier to share our bed with our daughter. “Moving out to where” was the next question; but, one that was not easy to answer - being a foreign national had placed me on most “we cannot help you” lists. We sat tight until more information was made available.

Eventually the Administration team released the news that the Corona Girl had tested negative, at least in the first of three tests. Shortly thereafter the Corona Girl made a post on her Wix site.

What follows is a direct line for line, verbatim rip of the Wix post written by her. This has been released into the public domain, in the sense that anyone can read it if they have the link. I just want to be sure I have a copy of it just in case her site disappears. And for what it is worth - any opinions expressed are my own.

One last thought - the Internet is forever, people: think about what you are putting out there.


How to Not Travel
So, along came Corona,

My Corona story started a little earlier than most, as I live in Vietnam. I could be wrong but I believe the situation in Vietnam was difficult due to how early we experienced the Virus here compared to other countries. Very quickly the virus entered Vietnam. Veitnam responded quickly by closing schools and was able to stop the virus in its tracks. Unfortunately, this meant that schools were closed every early in the school year comparativly to schools in most other countries. Schools were closed the start of February. We were hopeful for a while but the virus returned after 3 weeks, causing schools to remain closed even longer. As I write this blog (diary for me) the schools have been closed for 8 weeks and will continue to be closed for another two weeks (Tentatively).

The real story: My real Corona story begins the night I visited a Bar/Grill. Yes I know, bad girl. However, this was the night before things in Vietnam became more serious. The next day they decided to close down all Bars, Salons, Etc. due to the low amount of cases in Vietnam increasing daily.

A little background: Up until this date, for about a month teachers within Vietnam had been asking to have the option to be able to complete our Online Teaching from Home. It made sense to us that we could do anything we are doing in the school online, in or homes and we could perhaps even be better teachers from home and Wifi thats band limit was not stretched so thin. Finally, 3 days after Bars, salons etc were shut down and more cases appeared in an area very near to where most teacher live, the school decided to let us choose to work from home if we wanted to.

Jumping forward just 1 day: After enjoying the sweet victory of finally being able to Teach from home, rather than from my sad, empty classroom - came the news that there has been a new Positive case of Corona and guess what, he was at the same large Bar & Grill that I was at & on the same night. Due to this news, I emailed my place of work about my shame of being at the same bar, at the same date and time. Although, I was not within close contact of this m

Hello Corona Chaos: Emails flying everywhere with gibberish of f0, f1, f2, f3, f4, Self-Isolation, quarantine, unconfirmed case, confirmed case, do not enter the school, do not leave your home, Jennifer Demjen is an f1.

Waiting game: Waiting in my apartment since 8AM, I was told doctors would come and take me to a get tested for Covid 19. This information changes a few times throughout the day from - they would take me to a place to be tested, simply check my temperature and even be tested in my home. I had already previosuly heard horror stories of people being picked up and taken away for multipul days. I packed a 'day bag' as a precaution. I probably paced a race track around my living-room couch. Around 5PM they showed up. Through broken English they asked me questions about the night. I informed them that I was not any where near the man (I saw his photo on facebook) and that I had no symptoms. However, they checked my temperature and it was 38. After this, there was no longer a debate as to what was going to happen next. I had to pack my bag and find a sitter for my dog in 5 minutes. I attempted to clarify how long I was leaving to no avail, but I could tell by her body language and facial expressions that it did not look good. First off, my dog. I called my closest friend in Vietnam, and had my first break down. I begged her to take care of my baby. I did not know were I was going or how long I would be gone. She told me not to worry about my pup and named a few necessary things to add to what felt like would not just be a day bag any longer. At last minute, I decided to grab my laptop, and thank goodness I did.

Coronatine: I followed a man down the street where to my surprise, an ambulance pulled up for me. Once arriving at the hospital - Isolation area, my temperature was checked and it was now down to 36. Normal. It took a while for them to find me an English speaking doctor. Everywhere I walked, a lady followed a meter behind me spraying disinfectant. Once a doctor was found who could communicate with me, she asked me the nessesary questions, have you traveled? No. Do you have any symptoms? No. Soo... Why are you here? I was a little bit shocked by this. I had to pull up the most trusted piece of news there is.. facebook. I show her the post about a guy being at a bar who tested positive for Corona. More than a little confused she said ok. She looked at one of my documents and it was easy to see she was sorry to tell me that because I was exposed a week ago, I would need to stay a week in their hospital under quarantine. Breakdown number 2. WHY? I was not within 'close contact' (3 Meters), I had no symptoms & if I tested negative I would still not be aloud to spend the rest of my quarantine at home? This felt very wrong, it must be a mistake.

Tested: Still teary eyed I walked into what my doctor (bless her) told me would be my private room for the duration of my stay. Next comes in a man in a blue garbage bag suit, you know the one? Yes that one. He did not speak English so that was fun. Sample 1: Throat swab, not bad. 2: Take book, alright. 3: Qtip up the nose, not ok. I never knew a Qtip could go up that far. After he left my English speaking doctor came back. No break down yet, but pretty upset. I asked her to confirm that day I could leave on. She confirmed 8 days. Now was time to accept that I would be here a while, unpack my bag, get set up in my new situation. Easier said than done.

Support - Or lack there of: My expectation of support has been quite the let down. My one line of support hung up the phone on me while I was newly locked up and alone. The one doctor in the hospital that can speak English can not be here often enough to help me (Understandably). My worries and complaints are sent back to me with answers that its "too late", "Theres nothing to be done". Apparently my results have been withheld from me, leaving me in still a state of unknowing.

Tour: I did a tour of my new home to discover that the hallway had 4 other isolation rooms along it, and at the end a shared bathroom. This, is probably the worst part of my Coronatine. Disgusting. Actual human feices spread all over the toilet seat of one, and urine all over the other. I told the nurses/doctors. The next day well, let me tell you, 24 hours later and both toilets are so far exactly the same as when I arrived. If I catch some sort of other sickness while I am here, blame it on the toilets.

Nights are longer: From my first night I realized the long nights would be worse than the long days. The light is kept on in the hallway, some people are sick, some people are loud. I am not sure what is worse, the awful 'bed' or the light being on all night. At about 2AM, Breakdown number 3 - the biggest one yet.

Another day of waiting: Waiting for my results on day 2 of Coronatine was excruciating. Way worse then day 1 when I was waiting for the doctors to arrive at my home. However this time I did not have a couch to walk around 1000 times. Every. Single. Step. Past my room had my heart racing. Every inch of a shadow that someone was coming to my door. This lasted for a day. Commonly, results would be available within 7 hours, but here they were 'too busy' (I heard this line a lot) . So it would likely be a day. When I awoke on this day my temperature was checked and recorded at 36 (Yay me!). However, during the lunch temp check.. no such luck. I was back up to 38 but mind you, I did have Breakdown number 4 right before the temperature check. Never-less this was declared a fever and meant they had to take more blood from me. They said this blood test would show any inflammation. OK. Take my blood.

Results: I was told 24 hours and well.... Vietnamese time... Well. All my co-workers were informed that I am Negative. Did I get this information? No. I consulted with a doctor again, are my results in? No. Likely meaning, my school called who knows who and get the information before me or my doctors. To me, this is all types of wrong. Shouldnt the pacient be told before the world? Maybe I am wrong as its a pandemic and well, as we can see.. anything goes and rules change by the minute.

Why I am here: Good question, why am I here? And why for another week?

- Apparently my test is Negative (I heard through the lovely grape vine)
- I have no symptoms
- I was not within 2 meters or of "close contact" with the man the bar

And the only answer is... Because when they arrived at my door, my temperature was 38. Which as is commonly known can be due to any, many more reasons then Corona (Such as pacing around your home with no AC on and waiting for doctors to come potentially take you away. More commonly known as.. stress.


That’s one crazy tale. I want to show some empathetic understanding of her story; the situation she finds herself in is not very nice, to say the least. I am glad she found someone to take care of her dog; that was very fortunate. However what she did, with full knowledge of the consequences, were done by choice and her own free will; I have to tell you I see a lot of privilege in those words.

Some thoughts.

The real story: My real Corona story begins the night I visited a Bar/Grill. Yes I know, bad girl. However, this was the night before things in Vietnam became more serious. The next day they decided to close down all Bars, Salons, Etc. due to the low amount of cases in Vietnam increasing daily.

I think she is referring to the 14th of March. At that time there were 53 known cases in the country - one week previously there were 17, including the 16 that had been released from the hospitals in the country; that's 36 new cases in seven days. I am no expert, but I would think that should tell you that case number curve was increasing. In addition we already had been told that we should be careful about being part of large crowds. I, again, am no expert, but I am willing to guess the particular bar she went to was full of people.

This particular location, the Buddha Bar over in District Two, is now considered a hot spot of possible Corvid-19 infections (update: patients 97 and 98 attended that establishment on Corona Girl’s day). The local government is hitting it hard trying to track down participants - not sure how they will be successful, but they are watching the CC tapes to be sure. May take awhile but I am hopeful they’ll figure it out.

Why am I hopeful? Well, there is a certain amount of risk that I will get sick and then pass that sickness on to my wife and daughter. Of course being 60+ and diabetic is not a good thing but having my wife and/or daughter get sick would be the worst. That’s the real part that bothers me the most. I am, we are, doing our darnedest to stay safe but our efforts may be compromised by the actions of the irresponsible. I’m all for people having fun and enjoying life - I totally understand that and even support it. However, in these extraordinary times…

My real Corona story begins the night I visited a Bar/Grill. Yes I know, bad girl.

...really doesn’t cut it anymore. Basically, I’d call that, “To hell with this, I am going to live”. Great, good for you, you’ll be ok, probably live forever and all of that, that is probably true; but, what about the rest of us? Other people get sick because of you and it is all on you. Everything comes back to you and your behaviour. And I mean every-fucking-thing.

I get that she is pissed that the school apparently knew of her first negative result before she did, since it was released to the “world” before she knew. My suspicion is that the school knew simply because someone advised them. 

It is apparent that Corona Girl’s actions caused a lot of concern in the school community. A lot of teachers were classified as F2 and had to go into immediate isolation; something like a half of an apartment building. People like myself, with a family, were pounding digitally on our Administration’s doors to get information. The government knew of every F status and that was quickly rising to one hundred or more people. Her actions were inadvertently causing a potential delay in some exams scheduled next week. An awful lot of dominoes were falling over.

I see your “pissed” and raise you a hundred or more.

In the end I really hope she has no positives and she is released as soon as possible (if it all works out ok for her, she will be out on the 30th of March). Before that happens though I want to leave you with a question: you ever try to read a bedtime story through a surgical mask? I have had to do that twice in the last three months and quite frankly I don’t have any desire to do it ever again.

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