From the South Sudan city of Bentiu, Lieutenant Tu Quang, a doctor of the L2FH Rotation 2, revealed that the UNMISS has just assigned tasks to his hospital to conduct medical screenings at Rubkona Airfield. They will be relied upon to detect and promptly deal with COVID-19 infected cases in order to prevent the disease from spreading in the community.

Doctors of Vietnam's L2FH Rotation 2 conduct medical screenings at Rubkona Airfield. (Source: L2FH Rotation 2)

Although the number of passengers travelling through the airfield is limited, the pandemic prevention and control here is a real challenge due to the shortage of medical supplies and the hot weather in the locality.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Vo Van Hien, L2FH Rotation 2’s Director, the hospital set up a mobile emergency team to respond to unexpected situations such as casualty evacuation (CASEVAC), medical evacuation (MEDIVAC) and so on.

Over the past month, the medical personnel of Vietnam’s L2FH Rotation 2 have also taken part in online training courses held by the UNMISS on pandemic responses. One of the simulated situations offered by the organizers of the courses was of a female peacekeeper that is supposedly infected by Covid-19. Hypothetically, she had travelled to the Republic of Korea and been in close contact with several COVID-19 infected cases there. The medical personnel are then trained to transfer the patient to a quarantine area for observation and treatment.

The quarantine area is set up to receive suspected cases, provide them with suitable healthcare, and prevent the spread of the disease, said Doctor Nguyen Van Tam, Head of the Outpatient Department of the L2FH Rotation 2. He also said that the hospital has closely collaborated with relevant agencies of the UNMISS to enhance information dissemination to raise local the UN peacekeepers’ awareness of the pandemic prevention.

Medical personnel of the hospital pose for a joint photo to disseminate information to raise local UN peacekeepers’ awareness of the pandemic prevention. (Source: L2FH Rotation 2)

According to Lieutenant Colonel Vo Van Hien, South Sudan has just detected its first infected case of coronavirus. However, the country is at high risk of the disease spreading because of its poor healthcare system and the fact that its neighboring countries have reported high numbers of infected cases. In addition, since their operation is in a multinational environment and UN staff often travels, the risk of bringing the virus into the community from elsewhere is concerning, he added.

The L2FH Rotation 2’s Director said that his hospital is located near the Civil Protection Area (refugee camps), which has more than 110 thousand people, thus the risk of an outbreak is obviously worrying, especially when his personnel lack sufficient medical facilities and personal protective equipment. However, he reaffirmed that Vietnam’s L2FH Rotation 2 has specific plans to cope with the pandemic should it develops.

Translated by Trung Thanh