Medical workers in Wuhan give miserable account of conditions, cry out for international aid

Nurses under extreme mental and physical pressure in Wuhan ask people to join them in fight against virus

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Medical workers transfer a patient in the isolation ward for 2019-nCoV patients at a hospital in Wuhan. 

Medical workers transfer a patient in the isolation ward for 2019-nCoV patients at a hospital in Wuhan.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A group of medical workers in Wuhan gave a miserable account of their life in the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak and expressed how desperately they need help in an article published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet on Monday (Feb. 24).

The medical staff, who hail from Guangdong Province, arrived in Wuhan on Jan. 24 to assist in isolation ward work. Their chores include oxygen provision, tube care, airway management, haemodialysis care, and other nursing care requiring close contact with patients.

Describing the working conditions as “difficult and more extreme than could have been imagined,” the workers said that there is a severe shortage of protective gear like N95 respirators, gowns, and face shields. The need to put on four layers of gloves makes it challenging to operate medical devices and administer injections to patients.

Intense hygienic-routines and clumsy suits have taken a toll on their well-being. Some have developed painful rashes from frequent hand washing, and others are experiencing pressure ulcers on their faces due to long hours of wearing the respirators. Some nurses have even fainted from hypoxia and hypoglycaemia as a result of refraining from drinking and eating for two hours before entering the wards.

“While we are professional nurses, we are also human,” said the authors of the article about the mental pressure they have to endure from the demanding work. Exposed to the risk of infection and not knowing how long these trials will last leaves many of them helpless with anxiety and fear.

According to the authors, more than 1,700 medical staff have contracted COVID-19 virus, including nine who have died. As members of the group of more than 14,000 nurses from across China who have come to Wuhan in the battle against the disease, they are appealing to the international community to send medical staff to help fight a war with no end in sight.