One month after temporary clinics opened up to chaos and confusion at the epicenter of China’s coronavirus outbreak, Frontline Doctor Ma Yonggang is finally seeing more empty beds as fewer patients arrive.
Announcement When 43-year-old Ma was first called to a sports stadium transformed into a medical facility on February 4, a virtual construction site with electrical wiring and beds was still under construction.
Separated from his wife and young child who had returned to East Shandong Province for Lunar New Year, Ma said he felt “scared and anxious” when the call from the jury-rigged Wuchang Hospital came in the middle of the night.
But the situation has slowly improved, with the number of patients receiving treatment in the temporary hospital falling from 760 in mid-Februaryto 320 earlier this week.
The situation Ma identified the official accounts of the decline in new infections in Wuhan, an industrial city of 11 million people, where the virus is suspected to have originated in a market that sold wild animals.
During the first weeks of the crisis, AFP saw people standing in line for hours to see doctors in Wuhan’s hospitals, when the facilities lacked enough beds for thousands of new patients.
Hastily transformed from sports stadiums, schools and cultural centers, Wuhan’s 16 temporary “foundation” hospitals were built to ease the burden on the city’s overstretched health care system.
But in the early stages of the outbreak, they also suffered from the same widespread shortage of medical safety supplies as the city’s designated hospitals, Ma said.
Hospitals offer basic treatment and diagnosis for patients with mild to moderate symptoms as well as simple rehabilitation facilities.
Ma admitted that the facilities fell short of the standards of the patients, and those hoping for small rooms themselves were not prepared for the open-plan layout of the temporary hospital.
More than 80,000 people have been infected and more than 3,000 have been killed by the latest coronavirus in mainland China, with the majority in Wuhan.
Chinese health authorities and a team of experts from the World Health Organization say that at least 3,000 Chinese medical workers have contracted the virus— mostly in Wuhan — and at least 11 have lost their lives.
But according to Ma, none of the medical workers in the city’s makeshift clinics have been contaminated.
The death last month of whistleblower Li Wenliang, a 34-year-old Wuhan ophthalmologist who was punished for attempting to alert people to the outbreak in December, sparked a flood of grief and anger among the authorities.
One of the new victims was Li’s wife, Mei Zhongming, who was deputy head of the ophthalmology department at the central hospital and died of the virus on Tuesday.
Although Ma said that he was worried about the risk of infection, he remained committed to his duties.