2020: How a Wuhan doctor brought China to realise the seriousness of the Covid-19 epidemic

2020: How a Wuhan doctor brought China to realise the seriousness of the Covid-19 epidemic

On 30 December 2019, Dr Ai Fen, Director of the Emergency Department at Wuhan Central Hospital, was given a patient report showing signs of SARS coronavirus. Terrified by the news, she sent an image of the report to her colleagues, which was quickly spread through social media groups by medical experts including whistleblower Dr Li Wenliang. In this story, People Magazine journalists spoke with Ai Fen and printed her full account of the events, from her first encounter with a coronavirus case to cover-up attempts by senior hospital staff and the impact the virus had on her colleagues and patients. 

The story was published on the day Chinese leader Xi Jinping visited Wuhan, but was removed from shelves within hours of publication. Netizens acted quickly to repost its online version elsewhere through different means to trick the regime’s heavy internet censorship. Thanks to People Magazine’s cover on Ai Fen, her story was later widely circulated among international media such as Radio Free Asia, the New York Times and The Guardian.

About People Magazine

China’s People Magazine was founded in late 1979 under state-owned publisher People’s Publishing House. This monthly print magazine was deeply influential in the 1980s, when it started to feature articles rehabilitating well-known figures who had fallen into disgrace during the Cultural Revolution era. Nowadays, People Magazine still reaches a wide audience with a physical circulation of about 50,000 copies, mainly targeting young white-collar workers interested in society, politics and government. It has occasionally produced critical investigative content, including a story about the perils of China’s food delivery drivers.

“The person who passed the whistle”

By Gong Jingqi

The text message from Ai Fen, the Director of the Emergency Department at Wuhan Central Hospital, about agreeing to the interview was sent on 1 March [2020; translator’s note] at 5:00 a.m. About half an hour later, at 5:32 a.m. on 1 March, her colleague, Jiang Xueqing, the Director of the Department of Thyroid and Breast Surgery, passed away due to COVID-19 infection. Two days later, Mei Zhongming, the Deputy Director of the Ophthalmology Department at the same hospital, also passed away. Mei Zhongming and Li Wenliang were in the same department.

By 9 March 2020, the Central Hospital of Wuhan had had four medical staff who passed away due to COVID-19 infection. Since the outbreak, this hospital, located just a few kilometres away from the Huanan Seafood Market, has become one of the hospitals in Wuhan with the highest number of infected employees. According to media reports, over 200 people in the hospital have been infected, including three vice directors of the hospital and several directors of functional departments. Currently, several department directors are being supported with ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation).

The shadow of death hangs over this largest tertiary hospital in Wuhan. A doctor, speaking to Renwu magazine, mentioned that there is hardly any conversation within the hospital’s large WeChat group. People are only able to mourn silently and discuss privately.

The tragedy could have been avoided. On 30 December 2019, Ai Fen once received a virus test report from a patient with an unknown type of pneumonia. She circled the words “SARS coronavirus” in red. When a university classmate asked about it, she took a photo of the report and sent it to her fellow, who is also a doctor. That evening, this report spread among doctors in Wuhan. Those who forwarded it included the eight doctors who were later reprimanded by the authorities.

This brought trouble to Ai Fen. As the source of the information, she was summoned for questioning by the hospital’s disciplinary committee and faced “unprecedented and severe criticism,” accusing her of spreading rumours as a medical professional.

On the afternoon of 2 March, Ai Fen was interviewed by Renwu magazine at the Nanjing Road site of the Central Hospital of Wuhan. She sat alone in the office of the emergency department. The emergency department, which once had previously received over 1,500 patients in a day, now regained its tranquillity. In the department hall, only one homeless person was lying down.

In previous reports, Ai Fen has been referred to as “another reprimanded female doctor emerged” and some have called her a “whistleblower.” Ai Fen corrected this notion. She said she is not a whistleblower but rather the “person who passed the whistle.” During the interview, Ai Fen mentioned “regret” many times. She regretted not continuing to sound the whistle after being summoned to the talk, especially considering the fate of her deceased colleagues: “If I had known what would happen, I would have disregarded any criticism, I would have spoken out everywhere!”

Regarding the story of the Central Hospital of Wuhan and what Ai Fen herself has experienced over the past two months, the following is Ai Fen’s account:

An unprecedented rebuke

On 16 December, last year, we received a patient in the Emergency Department of our hospital’s Nanjing Road site. The patient had an inexplicable high fever that didn’t respond to medication for a long time, and their body temperature remained unchanged. On the 22nd, they were transferred to the Respiratory Department. There, a bronchoscopy was performed to obtain bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, which was sent for high-throughput sequencing outside the hospital. Later, it was verbally reported as a coronavirus. At that time, the colleague who was responsible for the patient repeated several times in my ear, “Director Ai, that patient tested positive for coronavirus.” Later, we found out that the patient had worked at the Huanan Seafood Market.

Then, on 27 December, another patient arrived at the hospital’s Nanjing Road site. This patient was the nephew of one of the doctors in our department. He is in his 40s, without any underlying health conditions. His lungs were in a terrible state, and his blood oxygen saturation was only at 90%. He had already been treated in other hospitals for nearly ten days without any improvement. The patient was admitted to the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) of the Respiratory Department. There, a bronchoscopy was also performed to obtain bronchoalveolar lavage fluid for testing.

At noon on 30 December, my classmate working at Tongji Hospital sent me a screenshot of a WeChat conversation. The screenshot read, “Don’t go to Huanan [seafood market], many people there have high fevers…” He asked me if it was true. At that time, I was looking at a CT scan of a typical case of a lung infection on my computer. So, I recorded an 11-second video of the CT scan and sent it to him, telling him that it was from a patient who had come to our Emergency Department in the morning and that the patient was also from the Huanan Seafood Market.

Just after 4 p.m. that afternoon, a colleague showed me a report. It stated, “SARS coronavirus, pseudomonas aeruginosa, and 46 types of oral/respiratory tract colonising bacteria.” I read the report carefully several times. The notes at the bottom said, “SARS coronavirus is a positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus. Its main mode of transmission is close-range droplet transmission or contact with the respiratory secretions of patients. It can cause a highly infectious form of pneumonia that affects multiple organ systems, also known as atypical pneumonia.”

At that point, I was frightened and broke out in a cold sweat. It was something very terrifying. The patient was admitted to the Respiratory Department. Logically, it is the Respiratory Department’s responsibility to report this situation. But for the sake of safety and caution, I immediately called the hospital’s Department of Public Health and Department of Infection Control to report it. At that moment, the head of our Respiratory Department happened to be passing by my door. He had experienced the SARS epidemic. I grabbed him and said, “We have a patient in your department, and we found this.” As soon as he saw it, he said, “This is going to be troublesome.” I knew right then that this situation was going to be troublesome.

After calling the hospital, I also sent the report to my classmate [at Tongji Hospital]. I specifically circled the words “SARS coronavirus, pseudomonas aeruginosa, and 46 types of oral/respiratory tract colonising bacteria” in red, intending to remind him to pay attention and take it seriously. I also sent the report to the department doctors’ group chat, reminding everyone to be cautious.

That evening, this information spread everywhere. In the screenshots circulated, there was the picture I had circled in red, including the one that Li Wenliang later shared in the WeChat group. At that moment, I started thinking that something bad might happen. At 10:20 p.m., the hospital sent a message, a notice from the Municipal Health Commission. The main idea of that message stated that regarding pneumonia of unknown cause, we should not release information randomly to the public to avoid causing panic. If panic is caused due to information leakage, there will be consequences.

I was terrified at that moment, and I immediately forwarded this message to my classmate.  After about an hour, the hospital sent another notice, emphasising again that relevant information about this case sent within the group should not be leaked to elsewhere. One day later, at 11:46 p.m. on the evening of 1 January, the head of the hospital’s Regulation Department sent me a message, asking me to come over the following morning.

I couldn’t sleep that whole night. I was filled with many worries. I tossed and turned, thinking about it. However, I felt that everything has two sides. Even if it (the spread of information) had adverse effects, it might not necessarily be a bad thing to remind medical staff in Wuhan to take precautions. The next morning, a little after 8 a.m., before I shift my work to others, I received a phone call urging me to come over.

In the talk afterwards, I experienced an unprecedented and extremely severe rebuke.

At that time, the superior in the talk said, “We can’t even hold our heads up when we go out for meetings. Directors A, B, and C criticised our colleague Ai Fen from our hospital. As the head of the Emergency Department of the Central Hospital of Wuhan, you are a professional. How could you spread rumours and create trouble without organisational discipline?” Those were their exact words. The superior asked me to go back and convey the message personally to the more than 200 members of my department. (I was) not allowed to communicate through WeChat or text messages, and it had to be done face-to-face or over the phone. (We were) not allowed to discuss anything related to this pneumonia, ‘not even with one’s husband’. 

I was completely stunned. He wasn’t criticising my lack of effort in my work. It felt as if I, had ruined the promising situation of the whole Wuhan city single-handedly. I felt a sense of despair at that moment. I am someone who usually works diligently and conscientiously. I believe everything I do is in accordance with the rules and has its reasoning. What mistake did I make? I saw that report, and I also reported it to the hospital. I discussed with my classmate and my colleagues the situation of a certain patient without revealing any personal information about the patient. It was equivalent to medical students discussing a medical case. As a clinical doctor who already knows an important virus found in a patient, when another doctor asks you about it, how can you not mention it? It’s an instinct for a person as a doctor, isn’t it? What did I do wrong? I did what a doctor and an average person should do. I think anyone else would have done the same.

I was also quite agitated at that time and said, “I did this. It has nothing to do with the others. You might as well arrest me and put me in jail.” I said that I was not in the right state to continue working in this position and wanted to take some time off. The superior did not agree and said that this was the time to test me.

When I returned home that night, I remember quite clearly that as soon as I entered the home, I told my husband that if something happened to me, he should take good care of our child. My second child was still very small, just over one year old. He was confused at that moment because I didn’t tell him about being rebuked. It was after Zhong Nanshan mentioned human-to-human transmission on 20 January that I told him what had happened that day. During that period, I just reminded my family not to go to crowded places and to wear masks when going out.

Peripheral departments

Many people were worried that I was one of the eight people called in for reprimand. In reality, I was not reprimanded by the Public Security Bureau. Later, a good friend asked me if I was a whistleblower. I said I wasn’t a whistleblower; I was the one who passed the whistle.

Whereas, the impact of that discussion on me was significant. After returning, I was utterly and completely shattered, and I had to force myself to stay strong and focused on work. But later, when all the other people came to ask me questions, I couldn’t answer anymore.

All I could do was to make the Emergency Department pay attention to prevention. We had over 200 people in the Emergency Department, and from 1 January, I urged everyone to strengthen their protection measures. Everyone had to wear masks, wear hoods, and sanitise their hands. I remember one day during a work shift handover, a male nurse didn’t wear a mask, and I immediately scolded him on the spot, saying, “If you don’t wear a mask, don’t come to work anymore.”

On 9 January, when I finished my work, I saw a patient coughing towards everyone at the pre-examination counter. From that day onwards, I insisted that they must provide masks to patients coming in for treatment. One mask per person. At that time, when outside, there was a saying that there was no human-to-human transmission, so I had to emphasise wearing masks and strengthening protection. This was all very contradictory.

That period was indeed very oppressive and extremely painful. Some doctors suggested wearing isolation suits on top of their white coats, but the hospital held a meeting and said it would cause panic, so they were not allowed to do so. Then I asked people in my department to wear isolation suits inside their white coats, which was not in line with the regulations and was absurd.

We helplessly watched as the number of patients increased, and the radius of transmission expanded. Initially, the cases were related to the Huanan Seafood Market and its vicinity. Later, the cases kept spreading, with the radius growing larger. Many cases were transmitted within families. Among the first seven (infected) individuals, a mother contracted the disease while delivering food to her son. The clinic owner also got infected because a patient who came for an injection transmitted the virus to him. These cases were all severe. I knew for sure that there was human-to-human transmission. If there wasn’t, the Huanan Seafood Market has been closed since 1 January. How could the number of patients keep increasing?

Many times, I’ve thought that if they hadn’t rebuked me like that and instead calmly asked about the situation and invited other respiratory experts to discuss it together, maybe the situation would have been better. At least, I could have had more internal communication within the hospital. If everyone had been made alert since 1 January, there wouldn’t have been so many tragedies.

On the afternoon of 3 January, at the hospital’s Nanjing Road site, doctors from the Department of Urology gathered to review the history of work of the senior director. Doctor Hu Weifeng, who attended the meeting, is 43 years old and is undergoing rescue efforts. On the afternoon of 8 January, on the 22nd floor of the Nanjing Road site, Director Jiang Xueqing organised a celebration event for the recovery of Thyroid and Breast Surgery Department patients in Wuhan. On the morning of 11 January, my department reported to me that Nurse Hu Ziwei in the Emergency Department’s rescue room had been infected. She was likely the first nurse in the Central Hospital to be infected. I immediately called the head of the Medical Services Department to report, and an emergency meeting was convened at the hospital. During the meeting, instructions were given to change the report from “bilateral lung infection, viral pneumonia?” to “scattered infection in both lungs.” On 16 January, at the last weekly meeting, a vice director of the hospital said, “Everyone should have some medical knowledge. Some senior doctors should not scare themselves to death.” Another superior took the stage and continued, “There is no human-to-human transmission. It can be prevented, treated, and controlled.” One day later, on 17 January, Director Jiang Xueqing was hospitalised. Ten days later, he was intubated and put on ECMO.

The high cost of the Central Hospital of Wuhan is related to the lack of information transparency among our medical staff. If you look at the infected individuals, those from the Emergency Department and the Respiratory Department are not severely affected because we have the protection of awareness. We promptly rest and receive treatment when we get ill. The severe cases are mainly from peripheral departments, such as Doctor Li Wenliang from the Ophthalmology Department and Director Jiang Xueqing from the Department of Thyroid and Breast Surgery.

Jiang Xueqing was really an exceptional person. He had high medical expertise and was one of the two recipients of the Chinese Physician Awards at our hospital. Moreover, we were neighbours, living in the same building unit. I live on the forty-something floor, and he lived on the thirty-something floor. We had a good relationship, but due to our busy work schedules, we only got to see each other during meetings or hospital activities. He was a workaholic. He was either in the operating room or seeing patients in the outpatient department. No one would specifically go to tell him, “Director Jiang, you should be cautious and wear a mask.” He also didn’t have the time and energy to inquire about these things. He definitely underestimated the situation, thinking, “How can it be a big deal? It’s just pneumonia.” This is what I was told by someone from his department.

If these doctors had received timely reminders, perhaps the situation would change. So, as someone who was involved in this, I deeply regret it. If I had known what would happen today, I wouldn’t care if people criticised me. I would have spoken up everywhere, wouldn’t I?

Although I worked in the same hospital as Li Wenliang, I didn’t know him until he passed away, as there are over 4,000 staff members in the hospital, and we are always busy. The evening before his death, the director of the ICU called me to borrow a cardiac compression device from the Emergency Department, saying that they needed it to rescue Li Wenliang. When I heard this news, I was shocked. I don’t know about the whole thing regarding Li Wenliang, but I wonder if his condition was related to his mood after being reprimanded. I have my doubts because I can empathise with how it feels to be reprimanded.

Later, things developed to this point, and it was proved that Li Wenliang was right. I can definitely understand his feelings. Perhaps my feelings are similar—not excitement or joy, but regret. I regret not continuing to raise my voice and speak out. I should continue speaking out when everyone was asking us. Many, many times I have thought about how wonderful it would be if we could turn back time.

To be alive is good.

On the evening before the city’s lockdown on 23 January, a friend from a relevant department called me and asked about the true situation of patients at the Emergency Departments in Wuhan. I asked if he was representing himself or the institution. He said he was representing himself. I told him that “I represent myself and would tell you the truth. On 21 January, our Emergency Department received 1,523 patients, three times more than the peak time on normal days. Among them, 655 had a fever.” 

The situation in the Emergency Department during that period is something that those who experienced it will never forget. It can even overturn all your outlook on life.

If this was a war, the Emergency Department was on the front line. However, at that time, the other departments were already overwhelmed, and they basically didn’t admit any patients. The ICU also firmly refused to admit patients, saying it would contaminate the uninfected patients inside. Patients kept pouring into the Emergency Department. As the roads behind were blocked, they all piled up in the Emergency Department. Patients came to see the doctor, and they waited in line for several hours. We also couldn’t leave work at all. The Fever Clinic and Emergency Department were merged together, and the lobby was packed with patients. The Emergency Treatment Room and Transfusion Room were all filled with patients.

Some patients’ family members came and asked for a bed. They said that their father was highly risky and was stuck in the car. Because the underground garage was closed, and their car was stuck outside. I had no choice but to take people and equipment and ran to the car. When I looked inside, the person was already dead. It’s really hard to describe that feeling, it’s very painful. This person died in the car and even didn’t have a chance to come out.

There was also an elderly person whose spouse had just passed away at the Jinyintan Hospital. Both their son and daughter were infected and were getting an injection. The son-in-law was taking care of her. When she came, I saw she was in critical condition and contacted the Respiratory Department to admit her to the hospital. The son-in-law was a well-educated and polite person at first sight. He came over and thanked me and so on. My heart tightened, and I told him to go quickly, as there was no time to waste. However, that elderly person passed away after being admitted. Although a simple “thank you” only takes a few seconds, it also delays a few seconds. This “thank you” weighed heavily on me.

There were also many people who, when they sent their family members to the ICU, it was the last time they saw them. They would never see them again.

I remember on the morning of the Lunar New Year’s Eve, when I came for the shift, I suggested taking a photo to commemorate this New Year’s Eve and posted it on my WeChat Moments. That day, no one said any blessings. In times like these, being alive is good enough.

In the past, if you made a small mistake, like not giving an injection on time, the patients would complain. But now, there’s no one left. No one argues with you or makes a fuss. Everyone has been crushed and bewildered by this sudden blow.

When patients died, you rarely saw their family members crying with deep sorrow. There were just too many, and too many (cases). Some family members didn’t even ask the doctor to save their loved ones. Instead, they told the doctor, “Ah, just let them find relief quickly, as it has reached this point.” Because, at this time, everyone is afraid of getting infected themselves.

One day, at the Fever Clinic, people had to wait in line for 5 hours. A woman in line fell. She was wearing a leather jacket, carrying a bag, and wearing high heels. She should be a meticulous middle-aged woman. But no one dared to approach and help her. She lay on the ground for a long time. I had to call the nurses and doctors to come and assist her.

On 30 January, when I came to work in the morning, the 32-year-old son of an elderly man with white hair had died. He stared at the doctor when issuing the death certificate. There were no tears. How could he cry? There was no way to cry. Judging from his appearance, he was probably a migrant worker. He had no means to express his grievances. Without a confirmed diagnosis, his son became just a death certificate.

This is also something I want to appeal to. The patients who died in the Emergency Department are cases that couldn’t be diagnosed or confirmed. After this epidemic, I hope they can receive some explanation, and their families can find some consolation. Our patients are very pitiful, very pitiful.


I have been a doctor for so many years, and I have always felt that no difficulty can defeat me. This is also related to my experiences and personality.

My father passed away from stomach cancer when I was 9 years old. At that time, I thought about growing up to become a doctor and save other people’s lives. Later, when I took the college entrance examination, I filled in all my choices with majors related to medical professions and eventually, I got accepted into Tongji Medical College [of Huazhong University Science and Technology]. In 1997, after graduating from university, I joined the Central Hospital. I previously worked in the Cardiovascular Department before becoming the director of the Emergency Department in 2010.

I think the Emergency Department is like my own child. I have nurtured it to be like this and united everyone to achieve its current situation, which is not easy. Therefore, I cherish it, I cherish this group of people very much.

A few days ago, one of my nurses posted on WeChat Moments, saying how they missed the busy days in the Emergency Department in the past. The kind of being busy is entirely different from the current situation.

Before this epidemic, our Emergency Department dealt with cases such as myocardial infarction, cerebral infarction, gastrointestinal bleeding, and trauma. Being busy in that situation, we got a sense of accomplishment. The goals were clear, and there were smooth and well-established processes for different types of patients. We knew what to do next, how to do it, and who to turn to if there were problems. But this time, there were so many critically ill patients that we couldn’t handle, we couldn’t admit them to the hospital. Moreover, our healthcare workers were also in a risky situation. Being busy like this is truly helpless and heartbreaking.

One morning at 8 a.m., a young doctor from our department sent me a message on WeChat. He had quite a personality and said he wouldn’t come to work that day because he wasn’t feeling well. We have rules here, if you’re not feeling well, you should inform me in advance so I can make arrangements. If you tell me at 8 a.m., where am I supposed to find someone to replace you? He got angry with me in the WeChat conversation, saying that “A large number of highly suspected cases were sent back to society by the Emergency Department led by you. And we are committing a sin!” I understood that he was speaking from a doctor’s conscience, but I also became anxious and said, “You can report me. But if you were the director of the Emergency Department, what would you do?”

Later, after this doctor took a few days off, he returned to work as usual. He wasn’t afraid of death or tiredness. But when facing this situation, he felt overwhelmed by the sudden influx of patients.

As doctors, especially the ones who came to support, they couldn’t handle it mentally. They were overwhelmed by this situation, and some doctors and nurses would cry. They cried for others, and they also cried for themselves, because no one knew when it will be their turn to get infected.

Around mid to late January, the superiors at the hospital began falling ill one by one, including the head of the Clinic and three vice directors of the hospital. The daughter of the head of the Medical Services Department also fell ill, so he was resting at home. Basically, during that period, no one managed us. You just had to fight there. It’s that sort of feeling.

People around me started falling ill one after another. On 18 January, at 8:30 in the morning, our first doctor who fell ill said to me, “Director, I’ve been infected. I have no fever. I just had a CT scan, and there is a large ground glass nodule in my lungs.” Shortly after, one of the responsible nurses in charge of the isolation ward told me that he had also fallen ill. In the evening, our head nurse also fell ill. My initial genuine feeling at that moment was – (this is) lucky- because falling ill early meant being able to leave the battlefield earlier.

I have had close contact with these three individuals, and I have been working every day with the belief that I will eventually fall ill. However, I have remained unaffected until now. Everyone in the hospital thinks of me as a miracle. I analyse it a bit, I think it may be because I have been using inhalable steroids for my asthma. They might suppress the virus from accumulating in my lungs.

I always feel that those of us who work in the Emergency Department are people with will and passion. In hospitals in China, the Emergency Department’s status is relatively low among all departments, because people tend to view the Emergency Department merely as a passage for admitting patients. This kind of ignorance has persisted even during this epidemic.

During the early stages, there was a shortage of supplies, and sometimes the protective suits allocated to the Emergency Department were of very poor quality. I was furious to see our nurses wearing such suits to work, so I expressed my anger in the weekly meeting group. Later on, many department heads gave me the suits they had hidden in their own departments.

There were also issues with food. When there were many patients and the management was poor, they didn’t even think that the Emergency Department might be lacking food. Many departments had abundant food and drinks available even after work, lined up in rows. But here, we had nothing. In the WeChat group of Fever Clinic, a doctor complained, “We in the Emergency Department only have diapers…”. It’s really frustrating to think of sometimes that we are on the frontline fighting, and this is the result. 

Our team is truly remarkable. Everyone only steps down from the frontline when they fall ill. This time, over 40 people in our Emergency Department got infected. I created a group for all sick individuals, initially named “Emergency Department’s Sick Group,” but the head nurse said it was inauspicious and changed it to “Emergency Department Cheer-up Group.” Even the sick individuals don’t have a sad, desperate, or complaining mindset. We are all quite positive, helping and supporting each other, and having a mindset of facing difficulties together.

These young people are really great, but they have suffered along with me. I also hope that after this epidemic, the country will increase its investment in the Emergency Department. In many countries’ healthcare systems, the Emergency Department is highly regarded.

Unattainable happiness

On 17 February, I received a WeChat message from a classmate at Tongji Hospital. He apologised to me and said, ‘I am Sorry.’ I said, “Fortunately, you spread the information and timely reminded some people.” If he hadn’t spread it, there might not have been those eight individuals like Li Wenliang. Even fewer people would have known it. 

This time, we had three female doctors who had their entire families infected. Two female doctors had their fathers-in-law, mothers-in-law, and husbands infected, while one female doctor had her dad, mom, sister, husband, and herself, a total of five people infected. Everyone feels that the result is such a huge loss and the cost is too devastating, despite discovering this virus so early.

This cost is evident in all aspects. Apart from those who have passed away, ill people also suffer from the cost.

In our “Emergency Department Cheer-up Group,” we often discuss our physical conditions. Someone asked whether a heart rate always keeps around 120 beats per minute would be a concern. Well, of course, it’s a concern. One gets palpitations with a movement. This will have a lifelong impact on them. Will they develop heart failure when they get older? It’s hard to say. In the future, while others may climb mountains or travel, they may not be able to. That’s all possible. 

And then, speaking of Wuhan. You see, Wuhan used to be such a lively place, but now it’s quiet. Many things are unavailable, and the whole country is coming to support us. A few days ago, a nurse from a Guangzhou medical team suddenly fainted while working. They tried to resuscitate her, and her heartbeat returned, but she remained unconscious. If she hadn’t come here, she could have lived a good life at home, and this accident wouldn’t have happened. So, I feel like we owe a debt of gratitude to people. 

This epidemic has had a significant impact on many people in the hospital. Several medical staff members under me are considering resigning, including some key personnel. The common sense and thoughts that we had about this profession have more or less been shaken. Is it really right to work so hard? Just like Jiang Xueqing. He works so diligently and treats patients so well. Every year he conducts surgeries even during the holidays. Today, someone shared a WeChat post written by Jiang Xueqing’s daughter, saying that her father has dedicated all his time to patients.

I have had countless thoughts myself, wondering if I should go back home and be a housewife. Since the epidemic, I have almost not been home. I’ve been living outside with my husband, while my younger sister takes care of my children at home. My youngest child doesn’t even recognise me anymore. When he sees me on video, he feels nothing. I feel lost. It was not easy for me to have this second child. He weighed 10 kilos at birth, and I developed GDM (Gestational Diabetes Mellitus). I still kept breastfeeding (before the epidemic), but this time I had to stop. When I made that decision, I felt a bit sad. My husband told me that being able to encounter such a thing in one’s lifetime, not just as a participant but also as a leader of a team that fights this battle, is a meaningful thing. When everything returns to normal in the future, we can look back and cherish this experience.

On the morning of 21 February, some superiors talked to me. I actually wanted to ask a few questions, like whether they realised they had criticised me incorrectly that day. I hoped they would apologise to me. But I didn’t dare to ask. No one, in any situation, said those words of apology to me. Nevertheless, I still believe that this incident further illustrates the importance of each individual sticking to their independent thinking. Because there must be someone who speaks the truth. The world needs different voices, right?

As a Wuhan resident, which one of us doesn’t love our city? Now when we look back at the ordinary lives we used to have, we realise how luxurious that happiness was. Now, like holding my baby, taking him out to play on the slide, or going to the movies with my husband, these were ordinary things before, but now they are a kind of happiness, an unattainable happiness.