Zhang Dingyu, president of Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, one of the city’s designated hospitals to admit patients infected with the new virus, has spent the past 30 days seeing and treating patients since the arrival of the first few cases of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
In the past week, going to bed at about 2am and getting up at about 4am has become the 57-year-old doctor’s daily routine.
Wearing a protective cap and suit and putting on a face mask, Zhang clutches at the handrail as he slowly makes his way up and down the stairs. He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neuron disease, though he never revealed the state of his illness to his colleagues.
“I have never encountered such pressure as today,” Zhang said. “For me, ALS is like a sword hanging in the air. I want to make a contribution with what limited time I have left.”
He added that he has to quicken his pace to save time and, indeed, more patients.
His wife, also a medical worker, was infected with the novel coronavirus and was hospitalised on Jan. 19. Luckily, after medical treatment, she has now recovered.
Chinese health authorities announced Thursday that 7,711 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus had been reported in 31 provincial-level regions and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps by the end of Wednesday. A total of 170 people have died of the disease.
The National Health Commission said in its daily report that 1,370 patients remained in critical condition, and 12,167 people were suspected of being infected with the virus as of the end of Wednesday.
Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei Province and centre of the coronavirus outbreak, reported 356 new confirmed cases and 25 new deaths on Wednesday, the provincial health authorities said.
On Jan 23, China locked down the city in an unprecedented effort to curb the spread of the new infectious disease.
At present, Hubei has 131 designated hospitals, including 30 in Wuhan and another 101 distributed in the counties and cities of the province, for confirmed and suspected new pneumonia patients, according to Liu Yingzi, director of the Hubei Provincial Health Commission.
Liu said that more than 170,000 local medical workers are now fighting the epidemic and 6,097 more from 29 provincial-level regions and the military had also joined by Tuesday.
Following Beijing’s SARS treatment model, Wuhan is building two hospitals to treat pneumonia patients infected with the novel coronavirus. The two facilities are expected to be put into use on Feb 3 and Feb 5, respectively.
Workers, trucks and excavators are racing against the clock to meet the deadline at the construction sites.
At around 6 pm Wednesday, the construction of power facilities at Leishenshan (Thunder God Mountain) Hospital, one of the hospitals, was completed.
In only three days, more than 300 workers toiled around the clock to install and adjust 7-km-long high-voltage cables and 26 facilities.
The hospital will accommodate 1,600 beds, 300 more than the previous design, as the number of local patients increases. It is expected to expand to 60,000 square meters and accommodate over 2,000 medical staff.
More than 4,000 workers and around 1,000 vehicles and large pieces of machinery have been toiling away at the Huoshenshan (Fire God Mountain) Hospital site day and night. Around 400 prefab rooms have been finished so far.