TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — One of China's leading experts on SARS, who said that the Wuhan coronavirus was "preventable and controllable," on Tuesday (Jan. 21) confirmed that he himself had contracted the deadly virus.
As the outbreak of “2019 novel coronavirus,” or “2019-nCoV," began to spread in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Wang Guangfa (王廣發), who heads the department of pulmonary medicine at Beijing's Peking University First Hospital and battled SARS firsthand in 2003, was dispatched to the scene. Prior to Tuesday's announcement, he had told the media that the disease was "preventable and controllable" and that the virus was "less pathogenic."
Wang entered the Peking University Health Science Center in 1981 before going to Japan for further study in 1995. In 1998, he was appointed as deputy director of Respiratory Medicine at Peking University First Hospital and obtained his master's and PhD degrees from Peking University, reported China Business Daily. During the outbreak of SARS in 2003, he oversaw preparations for the SARS ward and front line treatment of the disease as the chief inspector and expert group leader at Peking University First Hospital.
Wang oversaw the treatment of the largest number of SARS patients over the longest period of time at the hospital, according to the report. For his efforts, Wang was awarded the May Fourth Medal.
Wang was among a team of experts from China's National Health Commission that arrived in Wuhan as early as Dec. 31 to investigate the outbreak of a mysterious disease at a live animal market there, according to local media reports. Up until Jan. 10, Wang continued to tell state-run media outlets that most of the patients were in "mild" to "moderate" condition and that the situation was "under control."
His early assessment was that in comparison with general bacterial pneumonia, patients with the disease did not have much of the way of phlegm or leukocytes, though some had lymphopenia. Wang said that chest X-rays revealed "scattered patchy shadows that resembled ground glass," reported ETtoday.
On Tuesday, Wang said that he had contracted the virus after staying in Wuhan for about eight days. Speaking to Chinese reporters, Wang then exhorted the public not to "pay too much attention to my personal situation."