Vietnam News

Coronavirus : London backpackers quarantined in Vietnam

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Three young women being quarantined in an abandoned Vietnamese hospital say they are keeping positive despite language barriers and strange foods.

Lucy Parker flew from London to Hanoi on 2 March before meeting up with her sister Alice and friends in Vietnam.

The women were tracked down by authorities after a passenger on the Vietnamese Airline flight tested positive for coronavirus.

They have been in isolation for seven days.

Lucy, 22, Alice, 25, and their friend Hanna Ahlberg, 23, were traced to their hostel in Ha Long Bay by authorities days after Lucy disembarked from the plane.

Police were deployed to their accommodation to ensure the women did not escape and hostel staff burnt mattresses and other items the women had come into contact with.

Two and a half days after being tested for the virus, it was confirmed the women had not caught it.

They were taken to an abandoned hospital in Ninh Bình, north Vietnam, and ordered to stay isolated for a further 12 days.

Alice said the hospital they were staying in was originally an asylum and could be “pretty scary at night”.

“We have a toilet but there is no shower. We do have a bucket to wash with and to wash our clothes in,” she said.

“We’re actually quite lucky because we’ve heard of people in worse conditions.”

Language barriers are also proving difficult for the women.

“Our nurses don’t talk a word of English – not even yes or no – so that has been really difficult,” Lucy said.

“But we do have a WhatsApp chat with government officials to help us translate things.

“The food is also interesting. They send food to us in a bag. We even had soup served in a bag – but it is quite nice food.

“We are trying to look on the bright side of everything but we would rather not be here. We’d rather be at home or in another hostel.”

The virus has infected more than 110,000 people worldwide and killed more than 4,000.

There are at least 30 confirmed cases in Vietnam, including seven Britons.

To tackle their boredom, the women, who work as graphic designers, have been documenting their experience on Instagram as well as making coronavirus themed mugs, tote bags and T-shirts.

“While we were bored in quarantine, we decided to get drawing and doodling to make light of a bad situation,” Hanna said.

The girls hope their isolation will end on Monday, but are determined to keep positive until then.

“We are bored. After seven days in isolation we are wanting to get out. We’re not sure when we will eventually be let out but we’re hoping its soon,” Hanna said.

“We want to put out a message that quarantine and self isolation can be quite miserable so you just have to keep yourself busy and even maybe re-ignite some of your old passions and interests.”

By Sarah Lee – BBC News – March 13, 2020

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