Jianguo was exhausted when he returned home after a long day’s work at Wuhan’s Pulmonary Hospital, one of the medical facilities designated to treat those infected with a new type of coronavirus in the central Chinese city.
The 52-year-old cleaner said his hospital was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people seeking medical care, with doctors and nurses overworked and supplies running low.
Since the new virus was first detected in Wuhan in late December, nearly 400 people have died and more than 17,000 others infected – the vast majority of deaths and infections have occurred in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital. The rapidly spreading virus has stretched the healthcare systems in Hubei, with some medical personnel saying China’s government was completely unprepared for the outbreak and describing its response as chaotic.
But when Jianguo turned on his television on January 28, he was greeted by television anchors hailing the government’s “transparent and swift” response and videos of Wuhan residents joyfully expressing faith in the Chinese Communist Party to contain the virus.
“Are you seeing the news? Are they serious?” he recalled telling his son. “Doctors and nurses at my hospital are so exhausted that they are on the edge of breaking down. And those people who look so happy on camera – are they living in a different universe?”