Father Joseph Hoang Trong Huu (center) with two other priests before starting his pastoral and health services at Son Loi Commune on Feb. 16. (Photo courtesy of Father Francis Xavier Nguyen Duc Dai)
A Vietnamese priest who offers voluntary services to villagers who have been in quarantine for the coronavirus outbreak has called on people to respect and give medical supplies to them.
Father Joseph Hoang Trong Huu, 35, has provided pastoral and health services for the subparishes of Ngoc Bao and Ba Cau at Son Loi Commune in Vinh Phuc province since Feb. 16. The government sealed off the 10,600-member commune for 20 days on Feb. 13 due to fears over the spread of the Covid-19 strain.
The rural commune, 44 kilometers from capital Hanoi, has five coronavirus patients.
The northern province of Vinh Phuc has confirmed 11 of the 16 infection cases in Vietnam, including a three-month-old baby. The virus came to the province after eight female workers returned from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected, on Jan. 17.
Father Francis Xavier Nguyen Duc Dai, pastor of Huu Bang, said Father Huu, who was ordained last June, had taken soap, antiseptic lotion, face masks and medicine to villagers.
Father Huu, who has health skills, said on Facebook that local people protect their families and community from the deadly virus by wearing masks and washing their hands. They still work on farms and keep their daily activities as normal.
He said health workers work hard offering health instructions, supplies and basic information on the virus to families.
The priest said that although everyone fears the coronavirus, individuals including youths still visit churches and pray. “I plan to place the Eucharist on church altars so that people can adore and seek divine hopes,” he said.
Father Huu called on people from other places to pray for, give encouragement and offer medical supplies to health workers, patients and people suffering from physical and mental pain.
He said people should sympathize, share and journey with quarantined people rather than keeping away from them them.
The priest, who is from Lai Te Parish, said all people there including him still face the risk of infection at any time.
He said patients have much hope of being cured of the disease but feelings of being kept away, ostracized and disrespected by other people seem to prevail among people from the commune and the province.
“It is you who will heal our feelings here,” Father Huu wrote on Facebook.
In a video clip Bishop Cosme Hoang Van Dat of Bac Ninh encouraged people to prevent coronavirus infection by taking health workers’ medical instructions as Christian charitable acts.
“I daily pray for you and patients around the world,” Bishop Dat said, adding that the diocese will give them what they need to prevent a virus outbreak.
The Jesuit bishop said he would visit the commune when the situation allows.
Vietnam has quarantined thousands of Vietnamese citizens returning from China at military camps and temporary facilities.
Covid-19 has killed 2,011 people and infected 75,199, mostly in mainland China, while 14,626 infected people have recovered.