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Chinese family finds common ground in fight against coronavirus

(Xinhua)    14:58, February 18, 2020

CHANGSHA, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- Seeing the infection numbers jump daily on TV news, Hou Jianying got the feeling it was about time to end her Spring Festival holiday.

A doctor in central Hunan Province's Lianhua Town, Hou received a mission on Jan. 25 to work outside her familiar battleground at a health center to help monitor body temperatures at a highway checkpoint.

"I have experience in dealing with SARS, so I shall go," Hou said, becoming the second in her family to join the nationwide battle against the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Her husband, a village official, was already on the move to prevent the spread of the virus. Two days later, their son also joined the fight by returning to work in the clinic.

When being interviewed on a chilly morning outside the checkpoint, Hou did not see her family situation as unique as millions of Chinese families have postponed weddings or canceled holidays to join the anti-virus fight as medics, community workers, police officers and couriers.

MOTHER: I CHECK 1,000 CARS A DAY

Wearing a protective suit and a mask, Hou mans an entry of Xuchang-Guangzhou Highway. On Jan. 26, Hou checked 1,060 passing vehicles. She refrained from drinking water to avoid going to the toilet.

"Hello. Where did you come from? Where are you going?" Hou starts with a basic inquiry before asking drivers and passengers to report any symptoms of coughing or fever and measuring their body temperatures.

"There was a time when my thermometer accidentally touched the skin of the driver's hand. He immediately flinched," Hou recalled.

Among her most impressive encounters was a driver from Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak. Before Hou asked anything, the driver handed her a sheet of his body temperature records.

"Doctor, I was from Wuhan, but I had no fever in the past few days. Can I pass?" the man pleaded, explaining he was on the way to visit his relatives.

The thermometer confirmed his words, but to minimize risks, Hou persuaded him to return.

"The driver did not put up an argument and soon agreed to return," Hou said. "To my relief, most of the drivers were cooperative and showed a great understanding of my work."

FATHER: LATE-NIGHT SWOOPS ON MAHJONG PARTIES

Liao Shuyan, Hou's husband, began his anti-virus work a few days earlier. As Party chief of the Jinhua Village, Liao had been paying door-to-door visits to learn villagers' travel history and distribute leaflets on epidemic prevention.

On Jan. 25, the first day of the Spring Festival usually marked with festive gatherings and feasts, Liao's mission was to disperse crowds.

"That day, one mahjong parlor was still operative. A number of villagers gathered there to play and few were wearing masks," he said. "They dispersed upon my advice but some secretly returned in the evening to continue the game, not knowing we would launch a surprise check that night."

Liao's spot checks continued until Jan. 27 when villagers ceased organizing covert mahjong parties. "I could finally have a good sleep."

SON: I'M A DOCTOR, BUT I PANIC TOO

While Hou and Liao were out for anti-virus missions, their son Liao Qian was summoned back to the town clinic, which was severely undermanned during the holiday.

To reduce cross-infection risks, the junior Liao sent his wife and daughter to stay with his parents-in-law while he worked in the clinic around the clock.

Even though no confirmed cases have been reported in Lianhua Town, Liao said he still panicked when receiving a fever patient one night.

"I'm a doctor, but during this special time, I could not help but feel uneasy when dealing with fever patients," Liao confessed.

After completing all the triage and hospital transfer procedures for the fever patient, the 29-year-old doctor said he felt the urge to call her mother, a veteran doctor in the clinic.

Hou sensed her son's anxiety and offered to take Liao's place. The son refused.

"No, I just want to tell you to take good care of yourself," Liao told her.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Zhao Tong, Bianji)

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