The head of the Communist Party’s anti-corruption organ has arrived in the central city of Da Nang on a charter flight at 8:50 pm Friday as scores of locals were anxiously awaiting the return of their former leader many view as a populist.
People have flocked in droves to the Da Nang General Hospital, where Thanh will be treated. They also thronged the airport hoping to catch a glimpse of him. Police have been deployed to beef up security on the streets and at both the airport and the hospital.
An ambulance immediately rushed Thanh to the hospital after the flight landed, news website VnExpress quoted an anonymous source as saying.
Health officials confirmed he was quite "sober".
"He could remember the names of the people he met," Pham Hung Chien, director of the Da Nang health department, told VnExpress.
Nguyen Thi Van Lan, vice chairwoman of a local charity aimed at supporting women and orphans, also confirmed that Thanh could talk "quite normally".
Than Duc Nam, vice chairman of the parliament office, quoted Thanh as telling him: "I'm doing good. No big deal."
Nguyen Quoc Trieu, head of a central commission tasked with caring for senior Party officials, said Thanh was "stable" at the hospital.
Doctors would call a meeting tomorrow to decide his treatment protocol, Trieu said.
People standing on the sidewalks waved when the ambulance carrying passed by, chanting: "Ba Thanh! Ba Thanh!".
Thanh was Da Nang’s top leader between 2003 and early 2013. Since January of 2013, he has served as the head of the Central Interior Commission, an organ tasked with advising the Communist Party on anti-corruption efforts and the appointment of high-ranking personnel.
He was credited with turning Da Nang into a truly modern, attractive and outward-looking city.
During a packed press briefing held Wednesday, Tran Huy Dung, deputy head of the commission tasked with caring for senior Party officials, announced that Thanh fell ill last May and has since been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome.
Officials from that commission dismissed the now-viral rumors that Thanh was poisoned.
Myelodysplastic syndrome is a type of cancer which inhibits one's bone marrow from making enough normal red blood cells to beat out the abnormal cells that are attacking the body.
Thanh sought treatment in Singapore in June and July and then the US starting in August, Dung said. He underwent chemotherapy three times but he has yet to receive a bone marrow transplant.
Various treatments are available for patients suffering from myelodysplastic syndrome, including drug therapy and stem cell transplants.
At the briefing, Bach Quoc Khanh, deputy director of the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, said a bone marrow transplant could “push back” the disease. But his current health status won't allow for that, he said.
Thanh will be treated in Da Nang at his family's request. Further treatment protocols can only be pursued upon his return, doctors say.
He was originally scheduled to arrive in Da Nang on Tuesday evening on a flight chartered from a Seattle-based hospital, whose name was not revealed.