Dr. Liu was within the first wave of medical personnel seconded to Wuhan in late January to assist deal with a few of the tens of hundreds of sufferers suffering from the COVID-19 outbreak. Forward of the town’s lockdown being lifted on April 8, Dr. Liu—who requested TIME to solely use one title as a result of he feared skilled repercussions for talking candidly—recollects his battle on the frontline in opposition to the lethal pandemic..
When the coronavirus outbreak first began, nobody actually knew what was happening. I used to be despatched from western China to Wuhan for medical help within the first wave on Jan. 28. When the flight captain introduced we had been about to land in Wuhan, I gazed out the window and noticed no vehicles on the streets nor planes on the airport.
On the bus from the terminal, Wuhan regarded like a abandoned metropolis, with zero signal of life nor individuals on the road. At that second I felt terrified. However I instructed myself to remain calm: since I used to be right here, I needed to do one thing to assist. As quickly as I began work, my worries pale.
I used to be deployed to the isolation ward at Wuhan Central Hospital. To start with there have been so many sufferers with extreme signs and never sufficient beds for all of them. However the state of affairs shortly improved and earlier than lengthy, we even had empty beds. The lodging for medical doctors was fairly snug. We had a 200 rmb ($29) commonplace meals subsidy daily. There was additionally a 300 rmb ($43) each day state subsidy.
I used to be in command of 10 sufferers, working Eight to 10 hours every day, with half-a-day off per week when the epidemic began. After issues started bettering that grew to become a complete day of relaxation every week. I used to be particularly nervous once I first arrived because the illness’s mode of transmission was unclear. However I used to be later reassured that the prospect of an infection was low whereas sporting a whole-body protecting swimsuit. For frontline medical doctors and nurses, private safety tools was considerable, as medical provides had been despatched to Wuhan from throughout China.
It took me 90 minutes to placed on and take off all of the protecting clothes. I needed to be additional cautious when taking off the swimsuit, as a result of that’s when an infection is most certainly. There’s a dozen steps in the usual process to comply with, and for every you have to wash your arms fastidiously, utilizing a seven-step hand-wash method. Sporting the protecting swimsuit meant 10 hours working with none meals or water. I additionally wanted to make use of an grownup diaper because it’s not possible to go to the toilet throughout that point.
Lots of people, even medical doctors, are usually not conversant in sporting a masks, in order that they don’t admire the significance of this important safety. As a physician, I’ve to cope with sufferers on a regular basis, so I normally put on two layers of masks: a N95 [made by 3M] on the surface, and one other surgical masks inside. Protecting goggles are additionally helpful for medical doctors who spend a very long time in uncovered conditions.
China’s political system has many benefits that you just solely see in conditions like this. Chinese language individuals are additionally displaying nice solidarity. You don’t all the time really feel it when every thing is ok, however when the disaster got here, individuals had been there to assist one another.
I’m nonetheless beneath quarantine however solely have just a few extra days left. I solely acquired to see my spouse and seven-year-old son by the bus window once I arrived again in my hometown, however I video chat with them daily. I’ve actually missed my household.
I’m additionally anxious about my father as he simply had an operation to take away a malignant tumor. I don’t need him to be despatched for chemotherapy subsequent. As his son, I do know chemotherapy can be extraordinarily disagreeable, however I can also’t stand to see his well being getting worse. I’m wracked with fear.
The lesson we must always study from this pandemic is that we actually have to deepen our understanding of infectious illness. To start with, even infectious illness specialists acquired sick. There are simply not sufficient professionals on this area.
I can now see that most individuals had little or no data about infectious illness, and didn’t admire how briskly it could unfold. To protect in opposition to this sort of pandemic, individuals have to take severe precautions and alert the authorities about doable outbreaks as quickly as doable.