My family was in lockdown in Wuhan for 2 month. But now no longer is. I have been reading the news everyday since early Jan concerning the Coronavirus. With the outbreak in Europe and in Ireland it felt like a never ending battle to me. The positive news is that it is the end of the tunnel for people in Wuhan after their 2 month complete lockdown. I wrote this article to show Cov19 Coronavirus is a war that we all need to battle through but it is not invincible .
It was first made known around the end of Dec 2019. A group of doctors in Wuhan including Wenliang Li warned their friends in Wechat (a Chinese social media platform) that a SARS like virus was circulating in Wuhan. It then spread out on social media. The local government then announced that it was a rumour. There was no proof of human to human transmission and it was under control. People carried on life as normal. With Chinese New Year approaching hundreds of thousands people were travelling home to unite with their families in their hometowns. Wuhan is in the centre of China. It is also a centre point of transportation in China.
On the 18th of Jan the epidemiologist Nanshan Zhong was appointed to visit Wuhan and investigated the new Virus CoronaVirus situation in Wuhan. It was then first announced that the new Virus CoronaVirus is transmittable between humans. It was moving quite fast. There were 59 cases on the 5th of Jan. By the 21st of Jan there were 291 cases in China. Things started to get more serious.
By the 22nd of Jan there were 444 cases of Coronavirus confirmed, 17 dead. On that day it was announced that Wuhan would be locked down the next day which was a shock to me, my family and all the people living in Wuhan. This had never happened in our history. It didn’t sound logical with less than 500 cases of CoronaVirus locking down a city of 12 million people. It must be a lot more serious than it appeared to be. I ordered grocery shopping online for my dad to be delivered to him from a nearby supermarket. On the 23rd of Jan all the train/plane/buses/metro stopped in Wuhan. 5 million people left Wuhan in the 8 hours window between the announcement and the full lockdown.
The CoronaVirus exploded. On the 30th of Jan there were 9692 cases with 213 deaths in China. The majority were in Wuhan city and Hubei province where Wuhan city is. The hospitals were filled with people queuing for hours to be seen. There weren’t enough beds available. People died at home without even being tested. There was not enough protection equipment for the doctors and nurses. A large number of medical staff got infected. What was happening in Italy was exactly what happened 2 month ago in Wuhan, It was a very difficult and emotional time for me then. And it was very sad to see it repeated itself in Italy.
It not only affected elderly people and people with underlying conditions it also affected young and healthy people. Wenliang Li who gave initial warning about the virus also died. He was only in his 30s. It was a memorable time in China. People started to ask for freedom of speech.
The hospitals in Wuhan were completely overwhelmed and couldn’t deal with the rapidly increased patients. On the 23rd of Jan China started to build a brand new hopital called Fire-god Mountain hospital with 1000 beds. It was built and put into use in about 6 days. On the 25 of Jan another new hospital called Thunder-god Mountain Hospital with 1300 beds was announced to be built in 10 days.
Wuhan then quickly built 16 temporary stadium hospitals with more than 20,000 beds for people with light symptoms or people who require isolation. China also sent around 30,000 medical staff from other provinces to support Wuhan. It is since then the pressure started to ease off.
While at the same time in my family my sister decided to take my mom to live with her. My dad stayed alone in his apartment. For the first couple of weeks it was quite tough. Only 1 person was allowed to go shopping every second day. However there was no public transport. The online ordering and delivery service also ceased. My sister bought grocery shopping for my dad a couple of times. And very soon that was impossible too. People were forbidden to leave their home. Social workers and volunteers were appintmented to each community. The grocery shopping could only be organised through apps with the social workers. And they put the orders to the supermarkets and the food was then delivered together to each community. People went downstairs to pick up their shopping without having to leave their apartment blocks. My dad is 79. He found it quite overwhelming to use the technologies to get his grocery shopping done this way. So I have been helping him with grocery shoppings from the other side of the world thanks to technology.
In the meanwhile in the hospital and temporary hospitals Traditional Chinese herbal medicine was used in conjunction with the western medicine. It greatly improved the recovery rate and also reduced the numbers requiring ICU.
By the day today 23rd of March it was nearly a week no new cases were reported in Wuhan. All 16 temporary stadium hospitals are closed. People in Wuhan installed a health app on their phones. People are allowed to leave their homes with the health permit. The emptied roads started to be filled with cars again. My parents will still stay at home for longer just to be cautious.
Now Europe is the centre of the Coronavirus outbreak. Ireland is a few weeks behind but we need to learn from the experience of China and Italy.
- It is highly infectious
- Death rates are high if the medical system can not meet the demands
- Not only elderly people die from it, young and middle aged people could also die but in a small percentage. The frontline doctors and nurses are especially susceptible.
- When it is transmitted in the community it can explode in a short time frame
- The best way to contain it is by reducing human contacts
- The virus not only destroys the lung function but destroys the overall immune system in severe cases
- The face mask myth. All people in China are asked to wear face masks. While here the WHO does not recommend to wear masks if people do not have symptoms. However the virus could start transmitting before it shows symptoms. If everyone is wearing masks it is an effectively way to stop the transmission
- If people needs to self isolate instead of isolating at home with their families they should try to isolate alone
Thankfully we are in a better position than China was originally. China didn’t know the seriousness of the virus. With the warning of China we in Ireland and Europe have been preparing for it. Now it is the time for us all to be there for each other and be kind to each and everyone.
The Irish government took the right actions in shutting down schools, pubs and urging people to reduce personal contacts. It is up to the individuals to follow the guidelines. The better we follow the guidelines the sooner we could go back to normal life again.
I made the difficult decision to close my clinic. Protecting each other’s health is the most important thing. It was not an easy decision to make but i believe it is the right one. If we all do our bit then this will pass as it has in China. I am looking forward to the day I reopen and see you all again.
In the meantime stay safe.