Dr. Zhang Dingyu/photo courtesy of China Daily

With the recent outbreak of the coronavirus called 2019-nCoV originating in Wuhan, China, has spread to 25 more countries alarming public health authorities across the world.

A total of 11,944 including 11,822 in China, Hong Kong and Macau confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection including 259 deaths have been reported across the world as of 01 February 2020.

More than one week after Wuhan was put on lockdown, the megacity with a population of over 10 million has been racing against time to battle the epidemic.

Since the discovery of this pandemic, many individuals are risking their lives just to help fight the deadly virus.

Many heroic stories has emerged and one of these is the story of a 57-year-old man, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which attacks nerve cells that control muscles, in October 2018.

He is Doctor Zhang Dingyu, president of Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital. One of Wuhan City’s biggest hospital has been working with more than 600 others at the hospital for a month since it received the first few cases of pneumonia caused by a novel coronavirus.

"As my life is counting down, I desperately make full use of every single minute," said Dr. Zhang, as he vows to help fight against the outbreak.

"All my colleagues know my short temper," he said in a recent interview with Hubei Daily. "I've become short-tempered because I don't have much time left in my life.”
"My leg muscles have become weaker because of atrophy, then my body will lose sensation gradually... I have to run, competing against time to finish important missions. I have to run faster to save more patients back from the critical pandemic."
"I have never encountered such pressure as today," Zhang said. "For me, ALS is like a sword hanging in the air. I want to make a contribution with what limited time I have left."

For Doctor Zhang, going to bed at about 2 a.m. and getting up two hours later to answer a never-ending calls about patient emergencies have become his daily routine in the past weeks.
Wearing a protective cap and suit and putting on a face mask has become his daily get up, he slowly makes his way up and down the stairs of the hospital despite his condition.

But what makes this tough man grieve is that his wife, also a medical worker was infected with the nCoV virus while working at another hospital in Wuhan. She received treatment and has now thankfully recovered.
"I remember it was Jan 13. I went home very late and talked with her about a patient who was struggling for breath after a seizure," he said. "My wife told me that she had the same symptoms."
He said he terribly felt guilty when his wife was confirmed infected with the virus, he almost broke down.

"Maybe I'm a good doctor but not a qualified husband," Zhang said, He and his wife had been married for 28 years and he was afraid of losing her.
Zhang was on high alert in December after some first cases of pneumonia with an unknown cause began to be reported in the city's hospitals.
The Jinyintan hospital received the first seven infected patients when they were transferred there on Dec 29. It later set up a separate area to handle such cases.
He said the wife of one of the first seven infected people had wanted to be hospitalized, even though her symptoms were rather light.
"I suggested she stay at home, taking medicines. She recovered in the next two weeks," Zhang told Hubei Daily.
"The most important thing is to enhance the immunity. Infectious disease is not incurable and what we need to do is to quell fears."
Zhang and his team got some relief on Friday when military medical staff sent to Wuhan, including professionals who had experience in the fight against SARS and Ebola from Army Medical University arrived at the hospital.
"In the past month, we were overloaded," he said. "Normally, nurses change their shifts every two hours but the time period has been lengthened to four or even five hours, not to say the doctors. Physical exhaustion will increase the risks of being infected. Now, the situation is getting better.”
"Our nation is strong in scientific research and economically, and we have Chinese people's wills united like a fortress. I believe that we'll conquer this disease."
Zhang, who has worked at Jinyintan for six years, has been on the front line of medical emergencies and overseas medical relief missions in past decades.

He joined the medical team supporting victims of the devastating Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan province in 2008 and has also helped patients in Algeria and Pakistan.

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A race against time: The hospital president's heroic battle against coronavirus A race against time: The hospital president's heroic battle against coronavirus Reviewed by Sidney Cruz on 02 February Rating: 5

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