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Two Chinese nurses seek international help to treat coronavirus patients


Press Trust of India Beijing
Two Chinese nurses treating coronavirus cases in virus-hit Wuhan city have published an open letter pleading for health workers from around the world to come to China to help fight the COVID-19, saying that the prolonged duty is taking toll of their health.
Yingchun Zeng, of the Guangzhou Medical hospital, and Yan Zhen, of the Sun Yet-sen Memorial hospital, also in Guangzhou, published the letter in the medical journal the Lancet on Monday describing mental and physical exhaustion and severe supply shortages on the frontlines of the outbreak, the Britain's The Guardian reported on Wednesday.
Ten medical workers, including three doctors and a nurse, have died. On Tuesday, Liang Wannian, who headed the Chinese experts team along with WHO experts, said that over 3,000 medical workers have been infected nationwide.
He said most of the infection of the medical staff took place in early stages as they were not aware of the virulence of the virus and did not wear the protective gear.
Zeng and Zhen are two of at least 14,000 nurses, among almost 20,000 medical personnel, from across the country who have gone to Wuhan to help the overwhelmed medical system. "But we need much more help. We are asking nurses and medical staff from countries around the world to come to China now, to help us in this battle, they said.
The death toll in China has climbed to 2,715 while the confirmed cases rose to 78,064, amidst strong signs of COVID-19 slowing down even at its epicentre Hubei and Wuhan, according to Chinese health officials.
The two nurses who arrived in Wuhan in late January, wrote: "The conditions and environment here in Wuhan are more difficult and extreme than we could ever have imagined.
The letter describes shortages of protective equipment, from N95 face masks with respirators, face shields and goggles to gowns and gloves.
Their letter also described the difficulties of day-to-day operations. Protective goggles are hard to see through, while wearing several layers of gloves make opening packages to give patients injections a "huge challenge".
Many medical staff have pressure ulcers on their ears and forehead from wearing a mask for so many hours, while others have painful rashes all over their hands from constant washing, they said.
The nurses also highlighted the emotional toll the work had taken.
"While we are professional nurses, we are also human. Like everyone else, we feel helplessness, anxiety, and fear. Experienced nurses occasionally find the time to comfort colleagues and try to relieve our anxiety," they wrote.
"But even experienced nurses may also cry, possibly because we do not know how long we need to stay here and we are the highest-risk group for Covid-19 infection," they said.

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First Published: Feb 26 2020 | 9:36 PM IST

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