The first group of medical assistance teams departed Wuhan, Hubei province, the nation’s epicenter of the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak, on Tuesday as the epidemic situation markedly improved in the hardest-hit city.
The 3,787 medical workers belonging to 49 medical teams from across the country returned to their homes as only one confirmed infection was reported in the city on Monday.
Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan, who heads the special work group sent by the central government to Wuhan for epidemic control, praised the medical workers as the “most admirable people in the new era” for their great dedication and sacrifice in protecting people’s lives, safety and health.
Speaking to the members of the national emergency medical rescue team who were leaving Wuhan on Tuesday afternoon, Sun said teams from across the country will withdraw in a gradual, orderly and safe manner.
Those who still have work in treating patients will stay for the time being, and those treating critically ill patients will be the last to leave, she said.
Wu Mengmeng, 30, a respiratory therapist at Binzhou People’s Hospital in Binzhou, Shandong province, came to Wuhan as part of the Shandong medical assistance team on Feb 9. Since then, Wu had been working at a temporary hospital in Hanyang district.
“I really think it’s an honor to be able to go through the difficulties with the people of Wuhan,” Wu said, adding that as the time of departure approached, he felt a little reluctant to leave.
“Some of my patients have become my friends. One of them named Wang Yang, who was transferred to Huoshenshan Hospital for treatment a few days ago, talked with me over the phone last night for a long time. He promised to take me to see the well-known cherry blossoms in the city. I hope he recovers soon,” Wu said.
Xie Yingzhu, 27, a doctor from Chengfei Hospital in Chengdu, Sichuan province, said he valued having worked as part of Sichuan’s medical assistance team.
“In the temporary hospital, I felt the suffering of the people. I hope normal life here will resume as soon as possible,” Xie said. He added that the “unforgettable” days made him better understand the responsibilities shouldered by medical workers.
Ma Fuchun, head of the Shaanxi province contingent, said his team of 43 doctors and nurses managed 988 beds and treated 1,235 patients, together with colleagues from Wuhan and Henan province.
“Thankfully, we had zero patient deaths and zero medical worker infections,” Ma said. “Our presence not only reduced the burden of local medical workers but, more importantly, brought confidence to ill Wuhan residents.”
Wuhan’s cumulative number of confirmed infections reached 50,004 as of Monday night, and 39,220 of those patients had recovered and been discharged.
The National Health Commission said early this month that 346 medical teams had been mobilized to aid prevention and treatment efforts in Wuhan. The teams included 42,600 personnel, including 19,000 medical workers dedicated to treating the severely ill.