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99 days from Wuhan to Philippines -- a Chinese doctor's journey in fight against epidemic

People's Daily Online | Updated: 2020-06-10

For Zhuo Huichang, deputy director of the department of critical care medicine of the First Affiliated Hospital of Fujian Medical University located in Fuzhou, capital of East China's Fujian Province, the 99 days between boarding a flight to Wuhan on January 27 this year to returning from the Philippines on May 4 and later being isolated for medical observation have become the most unforgettable of his life.

On the second day of the Chinese New Year, Zhuo Huichang had just completed his duties at the hospital and was driving back to his hometown in western Fujian with his family for the Spring Festival. On the way there, he received a call from a hospital leader: "The hospital plans to deploy capable medical staff to support Wuhan in Central China's Hubei (the former outbreak epicenter in China) in the fight against COVID-19. I would like to ask for your advice."

Without giving it a second thought, Zhuo declared, "As I am a Party member and a doctor in the department of critical care medicine, it is my duty to go to the front line."

Early the next morning, Zhuo drove back to Fuzhou from his hometown and set out for Wuhan with his teammates. Before leaving, as a member of one of the first medical teams to come from Fujian to support Hubei in its fight against COVID-19, Zhuo took an oath: "We will strictly observe discipline, obey orders, overcome difficulties, dare to win, and make due contributions to the fight against COVID-19!"

At the end of March, as the epidemic gradually waned in China, the medical teams sent to Wuhan from provinces around the country began to return home. At this time, however, the epidemic situation abroad deteriorated, and the Chinese government began sending medical experts overseas to fight the epidemic.

Zhuo volunteered for the job, saying, "I have treated COVID-19 patients on the front line, and I hope to be able to participate in the fight."

After his quarantine for medical observation ended on April 5, Zhuo joined the medical expert team sent by the Chinese government to fight the epidemic in the Philippines.

"The epidemic knows no national boundaries, and mankind is a community with a shared future. I have worked on the front line fighting the epidemic in Hubei. I can share my clinical experience with my medical colleagues in the Philippines and contribute to the global fight against the epidemic," he said.

After arriving in the Philippines, Zhuo and members of the expert team had a full itinerary: starting at 8 am every day, he communicated with local government departments, visited Philippine medical institutions and isolation points, exchanged treatment plans with their Philippine counterparts, and shared China's experience in tackling the disease. He was often busy with work until one or two in the morning.

After 99 days of fighting the epidemic, Zhuo now feels that both Wuhan and the Philippines have become second homes for him. These experiences will also become the most unforgettable memories in his life.

"When I left for the Philippines, my child was very thoughtful. He said, Dad, just go to work. It's your duty as a doctor. My mother and I will take good care of ourselves at home," Zhuo recalled with relief. 

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