2020.2.3 The 12th day of Wuhan quarantine 日记原文于下
My cough has improved significantly in the past two days. Although I am still coughing a little, it is much better. My mother was having a fever the previous days, and she is normal now. At special times, slight changes cause amplified panic.
My aunt has been hospitalized. I heard that the fever has been under control for the past two days.
Colleagues who are isolated at home are also improving, fever is under control, coughing is decreasing, and appetite is improving.
Recently, I increasingly feel that the problems with nucleic acid detection kits are huge and the risks are many. First of all, there is a shortage of kits (don’t know the reason). If the situation is relatively smooth, you must queue for two or three days. If a critically ill patient dies in the process of waiting in line, then it cannot be counted as either confirmed or suspected case. Second, the testing result is inaccurate. According to my doctor friend, it is with very low accuracy, much lower than I expected (because there is no other supporting evidence, I won’t mention specific values here). That is to say, many cases tested negative by the kit cannot completely exclude the possibility of infection. In fact, some cases can be seen from news reports recently. There are indeed many cases in which they resulted negative initially but then became positive finally.
This is very bad. Why?
First of all, in the current situation of extremely scarce hospital beds, the diagnosis of the kit is a necessary condition. If the kit is negative, from what I know now, it is difficult to arrange hospitalization, even if the patient is already very sick (unless there is other special means);
Second, according to the current policy, to get free treatment you have to be confirmed to be sick first. This may cause those “negative” cases who are actually infected to refuse treatment because of fear of the cost of treatment. This is not only fatal but also difficult to prevent the spread of the virus.
Third, if a person is actually infected but not quarantined because the test was negative, it will lead to a wider spread of the virus;
Thus, the official reported confirmed cases are greatly decreased because of this.
Hospital beds are the most critically short resource. You can’t get them simply by standing in line. Some people get a bed by “going through the back door”. Some people get a bed through a social media post – they are “going through the back door” that way. That means that someone else, who has no personal connections or who can’t make a social media posting, doesn’t get a bed. But in these times I can’t be criticizing people who “go through the back door” because if it were for a member of my own family I think I would do whatever it takes.
The day before yesterday one of my friends said that five members of one family were infected but there was only one hospital bed available for them. The parents gave the bed to the youngest child. That amounted to sacrificing their own chance to survive. I am not sure that particular story is true but what I am sure of is that there are true stories like that taking place these days. Some time ago I saw the movie “Sophie’s Choice”. I thought that story was incredibly cruel. I was relieved to think that stories happened in the past, that they belong to history, and could never happen in my neighborhood in the year 2020. History doesn’t belong only to the past.
The centralized quarantine of mild cases and of suspected cases began these past two days. I asked some friends who work for their community’s local authority about it. The community they live in has requisitioned some nearby hotels for the centralized quarantine of patients. There are mostly people who have been diagnosed as infected by CT scan, although not yet by the nucleic acid test so their diagnosis has not been confirmed. Now what I worried about is actually happening. There are not enough medical personnel and the community authority lacks sufficient staff. No expert personnel are caring for these people in quarantine. Each patient has different symptoms so it is very doubtful that they will get appropriate care.
There are also serious issues concerning those people who have “suspected cases” of coronavirus pneumonia. Some of them may have the flu or some other type of pneumonia since the symptoms as seen a CT scan closely resemble those of new type coronavirus pneumonia. If these people are quarantined together with people who actually do have coronavirus pneumonia, they may get infected. Moreover, some of the close contacts of people with suspected cases may be virus carriers. Shouldn’t they be quarantined as well?
My friend couldn’t give me a definite answer. They are overwhelmed. I can well understand the predicament that community grassroots workers like my friend are in. After all, they are not professional medical personnel, they do not have specialized medical knowledge, and they lack medical supplies. Most of the patients they face already have confirmed diagnoses of new type coronavirus pneumonia. They are afraid and even more important, they lack the authority to make decisions. Both beds and testing kits are in short supply. They can’t solve those problems. On top of that, they must confront the fears, criticisms and panic of all the residents in the community under their jurisdiction.
I cannot think of any words to comfort him but to repeatedly tell him to protect himself carefully, not to take direct conflict with the patients.
My other concern is that circumstances differ greatly regarding resources, management level, extent of execution and humanization. For example, In my friend's community, officials have been working overtime for days, following up residents door by door in their district. Let's put it in the cask effect perspective. This could result in severe consequence.
Plus, my family hasn't been reached by the community so far, which is not yet the worst case. Another friend of mine tried calling their community service only to find it a vacant number...
A friend from another city, who works as a journalist, told me she was planning on coming to Wuhan. I told her not to but I'm also aware that many decisions are not optional.
CCP has done quite a brilliant job on oppressing lawyers and journalists these years, so brilliant that I once believed that medias and journalists deserving to be called "professional" were extinct on mainland China. Surprised to find that the performance of many medias in this crisis proved me wrong. Even though I have not a clue how long this situation will last. Probably the words they wrote down risking their lives may get erased from the whole Chinese Internet tomorrow. Those words are worth remembering no matter what.
There are many people worrying about the medics but unfortunately very few focusing on the safety of the journalists. As far as I'm concerned, quite a few journalists on the front line have been infected. I pray for them to be seen, be remembered, not to be viciously slandered ever again.