Doctors’ ‘suicide mission’ to virus epicentre

 

Distraught relatives have farewelled medical volunteers headed for Wuhan's coronavirus ground zero on what has been likened to a "Chernobyl" like "suicide mission".

Footage has emerged of relatives tearfully saying goodbye to doctors and nurses on a mission which has been compared with Soviet first responders heading into the Chernobyl nuclear reactor after it exploded.

The 1986 Chernobyl disaster was the world's worst nuclear accident.

The volunteers to Wuhan's frontline to treat coronavirus-infected patients has been described as a "coronavirus suicide mission".

 

 

American politician Solomon Yue issued a sombre tweet in response to one video of families sobbing and hugging as their medically trained relatives board trains or buses.

"Like Chernobyl firefighters, some of those doctors and nurses WON'T come back to their loved ones," Mr Yue posted on Twitter.

"This is a #coronarvirus suicide mission for many of them. God bless them."

Thousands of doctors and nurses are saying goodbye to their families as they're deployed to Wuhan to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

 

One politician has said some medical workers farewelled (above) to Wuhan “won’t come back to loved ones”. Picture: Radio Free Asia
One politician has said some medical workers farewelled (above) to Wuhan “won’t come back to loved ones”. Picture: Radio Free Asia

In Xian, in central China, one doctor was filmed by China Central Television having a "last breakfast" with his wife before heading to the frontline in Wuhan.

First Affiliated Hospital of Xian Jiaotong University chief physicist Dr Liu Yu, at the is one of 137 medical staff assigned from Shaanxi province alone to the virus epicentre.

The 44-year-old was filmed with his wife, Zhou Jing, a nurse, preparing to leave for Wuhan, 750km southwest of Xian.


Zhou Jing described how her husband had joined SARS relief work during the 2003 outbreak of that corona-related virus.

Dr Yu had also done relief work after the 2008 earthquake in Wenchuan and the Yushu earthquake in 2010.

"It's scary when you don't know much about it," he said.

"But now we know what kind of virus it is, how it spreads and in which way it spreads, what clinical characteristics it has and how to treat it.

 

Dr Liu Yu leaves his wife ‘scared’ despite his prior volunteering in two earthquakes and the SARS outbreak. Picture CCTV
Dr Liu Yu leaves his wife ‘scared’ despite his prior volunteering in two earthquakes and the SARS outbreak. Picture CCTV

"Now we get the picture. Once we spoke about all these facts, my wife was kind of relieved."

Zhou Jing said she was "still a little bit in denial and scared, scared overall" about her husband's journey to ground zero of the coronavirus.

Dr Yu received a video call from his father who said, "we all support you to go to Wuhan to fight this virus".

"Pay attention to your own safety," he said.


The Chernobyl allusion to the coronavirus outbreak has also been used in comparing the Chinese Government's apparent cover-up with the Soviet regime's for Chernobyl.

Critics of Chinese President Xi Jinping said his mishandling of the response to the outbreak amounts to an attempt to cover it up.

The Wall Street Journal reported Chinese authorities are trying to "dictate the narrative" of the coronavirus outbreak with state media outlets being told what to publish.

"Social media posts are being deleted, including comments calling out the government for failing to contain the virus or questioning official data related to the disease," WSJ reported.

Chinese citizens are angry that the Government "underplayed the threat from a disease" that has now infected more than 7700 people and killed at least 170.

What awaits: medical worker next to a patient in a Wuhan hospital. Picture: AP.
What awaits: medical worker next to a patient in a Wuhan hospital. Picture: AP.

The Washington Post reported that President Xi and the Communist Party were struggling as much with the political ramification on their 70-year rule, as with a global public health epidemic and its risk to the domestic economy.

The Post said top party advisers sought to protect Xi, while allowing public criticism of local Wuhan authorities, "who initially covered up and ignored the coronavirus".

This has caused Wuhan to point the finger right back at Beijing.

As WSJ Journalist Jonathan Cheng tweeted, "the mayor of Wuhan suggested Beijing was partially responsible for the initial lack of transparency about the coronavirus threat".

He wrote this was "a sign of tensions within the government as it struggles to get a handle on a fast-spreading public-health crisis".

Mr Yue also retweeted a post tagged #WuhanLockDown which was said to be a video of medical staff inside the Wuhan hospital saying "there is no food in hospital now. We need food, we need food."

candace.sutton@news.com.au

Dr Yu farewells wife Zhou Zing before heading off for Wuhan’s ground zero. Picture: CCTV
Dr Yu farewells wife Zhou Zing before heading off for Wuhan’s ground zero. Picture: CCTV
Medical worker in protective gear walks in the street near a health station in Wuhan on Monday. Picture: Chinatopix via AP.
Medical worker in protective gear walks in the street near a health station in Wuhan on Monday. Picture: Chinatopix via AP.

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