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January 24, 2020

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First Shanghai medical team leaves to assist in Wuhan crisis

THE first batch of a medical team of doctors and nurses with expertise in intensive care, infectious and respiratory diseases left Shanghai for Wuhan yesterday.

They were picked from several local hospitals, including Zhongshan and Huashan.

Under the arrangement with the National Health Commission, Shanghai will establish three medical teams to support their counterparts in Wuhan, the city where the new coronavirus is believed to have originated.

Each team will consist of 135 doctors and nurses picked from city-level, district-level and infectious disease hospitals. A special train carrying the first team left the city in the evening yesterday. They were expected to reach Wuhan at midnight.

Dr Zhong Ming from Zhongshan Hospital’s intensive care unit canceled his family trip abroad. The hospital’s WeChat account posted a picture of Zhong stepping onto the train in Shanghai.

The post said his daughter hugged him before leaving and said: “Dad, we are waiting for you back home.”

Meanwhile, local doctors and nurses have been canceling their breaks and will be working overtime to cope with any increase in the number of patients during the Spring Festival holiday. Medical personnels have volunteered to work despite the risks.

Wu Yan is a senior nurse at the pneumology department at Ruijin Hospital who has volunteered to work at the center. “I’d like to contribute in the fight against the outbreak even at the risk of death,” Wu said.

Meanwhile, six patients being treated in Shanghai for coronavirus-related pneumonia have been able to get out of bed and do activities, while others were recovering, local doctors said.

Shanghai has reported 16 coronavirus cases so far, with all having links to Wuhan, the capital city of central China’s Hubei Province, where over 600 coronavirus cases and 18 deaths have been reported.

Fourteen patients are being treated in isolation at Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center in the city’s southwest Jinshan District. Among them, an 88-year-old man who is in a critical condition with cardiopulmonary insufficiency, but was said to be improving, Dr Chen Jun, the center’s associate chief physician, said.

The patient had multiple diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiac and renal insufficiency as well as chronic bronchitis. He had suffered respiratory and multi-organ failure by the time he was admitted at the center on Wednesday, Chen said.

All the other patients are in stable or have mild conditions. Five have a fever while two others are coughing.

The building where the patients are being treated has been isolated from other sections with isolation strips and security guards around the clock.

The three-story building has over 70 wards and all essential rescue facilities, medicines and other medical equipment. The negative pressure wards ensure ventilation.

All medical care personnels are living in the building. Each group works for two weeks and a fortnight in isolation for observation before leaving the center.

“We have made full plans and preparations, and our medical teams are also fully experienced,” said Lu Hongzhou, Party secretary of the center and an expert in infectious diseases.

Each patient has bespoke treatment plans with fixed doctors and nurses. Apart from treatments based on the symptoms, medical experts are also trying new medicines and treatments, including traditional Chinese medicine, said Lu.

Shanghai is expected to see an increase in the number of coronavirus cases, according to Zhang Wenhong, leader of Shanghai medical treatment experts’ team and director of the infectious disease department at Huashan Hospital.

“It is still not known how many infected cases have entered the city. It takes several days for observation,” Zhang told Shanghai Television Station.

Zhang said the incubation period of the new coronavirus pneumonia ranges from two to 14 days. “It is absolutely infectious during the incubation period even if there are no symptoms,” he said.

Zhang said children are as vulnerable as adults.


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