Who is Xiang Lu? The story of a doctor from China's Coronavirus ground zero

  • A Chinese doctor recently revealed his experience while working at the initial epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak, Hubei province

  • Other healthcare staff from US and Iran revealed a completely different scenario

The Coronavirus outbreak which has killed over 30,000 people in all over the world and infected more than 679,000 individuals globally first emerged in China's Hubei province in December 2019.

By the end of January when the virus started killing more and more people in China and then spreading in other continents, 346 medical teams, from 29 provinces in China, have been sent to Hubei to save lives and help local medical staffs.

When Hubei reached its peak, Xiang Lu was one of those thousand doctors who went to the initial epicentre of the outbreak. Recently he shared his story with UN News and mentioned that now maybe he will be able to return home since the situation has improved.

The doctor who went to Hubei during COVID-19 outbreak

Xiang Lu from Yifu Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University was asked to visit Huangshi just before the Chinese New year. Six doctors and nurses were notified to go to the epicentre of the outbreak on January 25. Xiang Lu, who has 30 years of experience in the medical field has got the phone call to go on 10 February and was asked to lead a team of medical staff to the city of Huangshi where the epidemic was close to its peak. Within less than 24 hours he assembled a temporary team of 310 people from several other hospitals.

"I didn't know some of the medical staff, and I'm not familiar with Huangshi, but I knew that my management and clinical experience would be helpful on the front line. All the people on the mission were very willing to participate in this battle. I remember feeling under pressure and stressed, but also full of confidence," said the doctor in a recent interview with UN News.

When the doctor reached Huangshi along with his team, there were around 800 COVID-19 cases including 100 in a critical condition. He noticed that the medical team was very tired and there was a shortage of protective materials. While describing the situation as very "poor" Xiang Lu said his team reached Huangshi at the most intense period.

Doctors speak with cured novel coronavirus pneumonia patients in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 6, 2020. Xinhua/IANS

The struggle during the Coronavirus outbreak

During the interview, Xiang Lu said for the first two weeks there was almost no time to eat, let alone to contact the families of the medical staffs. His team renovated the hospital to increase the number of beds due to the surge of COVID-19 cases and concentrated critical patients in one of the best-equipped hospitals. "I even worked as a temporary carpenter to transform general wards into intensive care wards that met the national standards overnight!" he added.

While working under such pressure, knowing the fact that there is no cure available to treat people affected by COVID-19, the doctor suggested that it is important to diagnose and seek to treat patients as early as possible. As an example, he also mentioned that "I have seen some encouraging cases: a 93-year-old patient in critical condition recovered, and another patient was discharged from hospital after two rounds of ventilator intubation."

In addition, Xiang Lu said, "As doctors, we are not afraid of hardship, we 're not afraid of fatigue. But we hope that people can understand us in the right way, especially in difficult times such as these. Next week, my team will complete its mission and return home. I'm pleased to say that none of our medical team members and local medical staff were infected. For the general public, my main message is don't panic!".

He also revealed that when the virus hit Wuhan many people were panicked, and flocked to the hospitals, which caused cross-infection.

Unlike healthcare staffs in China

While New York is currently considered one of the most affected regions in the world and US surpassed China in terms of most reported Coronavirus infection cases healthcare employees at Mount Sinai West hospital in Manhattan were asked to wear trash bags while treating COVID-19 patients. It has taken life out of Kious Kelly on March 24 who was admitted in the same facility after he tested positive for Coronavirus.

A picture, posted on Facebook showed that nurses working at the hospital were wearing garbage bags as an alternative of the protective gowns.

Many healthcare staff who are currently risking their lives and going to work to treat Coronavirus patients revealed the reality behind the safety measures they are asked to follow in respective hospitals. A nurse from New Jersey, Sonja Schwartzbach who created an online document and invited many to share their experience at work revealed that hospital conditions were "far worse" than most people realized.

As per a Pennsylvania nurse, all of her colleagues had received an email where the hospital authority asked them not to remove gloves when in a room if they get soiled, but to use sanitizers over the gloves. The email also added, "You also have to keep the same surgical mask on the entire shift. You only get an N95 if certain procedures are being done that would produce aerosols. This is absolutely unacceptable and puts all the staff, other patients and my family at high risk."

In a recent video, an Iranian nurse revealed that they don't have the proper attire to protect themselves from the deadly virus while treating other COVID-19 patients. One nurse was heard saying that "When the staff compromised their own life by coming here, we need to have better tools. Unfortunately, we don't have enough to work with."

Related topics : Coronavirus