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Viewing The Coronavirus Through The Eyes Of A Doctor In Wuhan


I want to turn now to someone in Wuhan, that city that has been so hit by this outbreak. It is Dr. Lin Yang. She's an epidemiologist at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She's in Wuhan working to fight this virus.

Dr. Yang, thanks for spending a few minutes with us.

LIN YANG: Thank you for invitation.

GREENE: Can you just tell me about some of the work that you've been doing there?

YANG: Actually, I'm kind of doing a lot of work on online consultations because I don't have a, you know, license to work as doctor here. So I work with some volunteers. We provide free online consultation to those who is calling for help, or sometime we give them the mental consultation as well, like they help them ease the nervous - like, become less nervous about disease.

We kind of also give them some advice because a lot of people have to stay home for isolation because, you know, the whole hospital system actually overloaded. So many cases have to stay home for self-care, so we kind of give them this medical advice.

GREENE: So where are people being treated if there's not enough room in the hospitals?

YANG: Because - for this kind of outbreak, we need to provide a negative pressure isolation room. But unfortunately, you know, in Wuhan, for now we have over 30,000 patients diagnosed with disease. So there's no enough isolation room with the negative pressure to fully meet the standard. So actually, the government has used a so-called mobile hospital. So the mild cases can stay in this hospital to get fully recovered and get treatment as well.

GREENE: You said a mobile hospital. What does that look like?

YANG: Well, it's - I'm not sure whether you have seen the picture of 1918, the Spanish flu outbreak.

GREENE: No, no. Tell me about it.

YANG: Actually, inside some stadium - and nowadays, they kind of use the hotels and dormitory as well. So I think it's getting better. But it's a mobile hospital. Or in Chinese, we call it cabinet hospital.

GREENE: Cabinet hospital.

YANG: Yeah.

GREENE: Have you been able to walk around the city at all? I mean, can you tell me what the city looks like right now in lockdown?

YANG: Empty, no people walking on the street, no cars. Actually, now I think it's getting more and more strict. We used to be able to walk outside. But now it's kind of - the whole community is locked down, so we are not allowed to walk outside the community every day. So we have to report them but - or do some registration.

GREENE: Where are you spending your time?

YANG: At home, do some research. I also do online teaching for my students.

GREENE: But - are you in a hotel in Wuhan? Or...

YANG: I'm living in my parents' home.

GREENE: Your parents live in Wuhan?

YANG: Yes. So my original plan was to visit some hospital here because I came here, like, 22 of January - so the day before the city locked down. And the next day when I woke up, the things actually happened, which is quite shocking. So I can spend a long holiday with my parents.

GREENE: So are they doing OK?

YANG: Yeah, they're fine - a bit nervous and a bit panicked about the outbreak. But I think that, with me, they're less worried.

GREENE: It's good to have a doctor in the family at a moment like this.

YANG: (Laughter) Yes, indeed.

GREENE: Dr. Yang, thank you. All the best to you and your family. And we really appreciate you talking to us this morning.

YANG: Thank you very much.

GREENE: Lin Yang is an epidemiologist. She's in Wuhan working to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.