We Live in Fear Every Day: Burnt-Out Health Workers Prepare for the Worst in Wuhan

Qinqin, a hospital worker in coronavirus epicenter Wuhan and single mother of an eight-year-old boy, has written a will in case anything unexpected happens as she toils to fight off the deadly virus that has brought the city to a standstill.

The hospital administrator has not had a day off since the Lunar New Year more than two weeks ago when the outbreak pushed hospitals across the city to breaking point.

On any given day, around 600 patients would flock to the hospital where Qinqin (not her real name) works to seek diagnosis and treatment for the virus. She would often not leave the hospital until midnight.

About 70 frontline medical workers at Qinqins hospital have contracted the virus, she told The Epoch Times. One of her colleagues, a man just over 30 years old, collapsed on the ground while working on Feb. 5. He later tested positive for the coronavirus.

A photo of a PowerPoint slide widely circulated over the internet, reportedly taken during a recent provincial-level coronavirus response conference, showed that 13 major hospitals in Hubei Province—the region that houses Wuhan City—had at least 15 medical workers who contracted the virus. One hospital had 101 infected health workers.

“It may be just a single slip: a face mask not adjusted right, or hands not washed properly, but the consequence is grim,” Qinqin said.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
People wearing masks wait amid snow at a bus stop as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, in Beijing, China on Feb. 6, 2020. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Live and Perish on Your Own

Song, a retired doctor who was recently rehired at a private hospital, is among the scores of health workers who have been infected.

He became feverish around Jan. 18 while treating patients. Believing that he had contracted pneumonia, Song resorted to IV drips and injections. In a week, his fever had shot up to 107 degrees fahrenheit. Along with fever, he also had diarrhea, according to Li, Songs sister-in-law.

A doctor told them he was infected by the coronavirus, but the hospital didnt admit him, saying that “only when someone dies will they be able to check if theres a spot for him,” Li told The Epoch Times.

So Song is now at home and being taken care of by his wife and Li. Li said Songs diarrhea has since gotten worse.

Li said they would protect themselves with glasses, masks, and hats while caring for Song at home. They have lost contact with their neighbors and friends, as people have stopped visiting since the outbreak scare.

She also believed the death figures to be far higher than whats reported, saying that she witnessed staff at Wuhan Central Hospital “pulling dead bodies outside” when she took Song there to get injections.

“The regular civilians are waiting for death, those in Wuhan are left to live and perish on your own at home,” Li said. “What else can you do? Theres no other way.”