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Top Chinese academicians become warriors in battle against novel coronavirus (2)

(People's Daily Online)    10:29, March 19, 2020

Zhang Boli

“I was just doing what I was supposed to do.”

Zhang Boli, a 72-year-old academician with the CAE, proposed the idea of hierarchical and classified management and centralized isolation for different people in late January when Wuhan was confronted with its severe epidemic situation.

In late January, major hospitals were overcrowded, and the “four types of people”- confirmed patients, suspected patients, close contacts, and patients with fever that might have been caused by the novel coronavirus, posed an enormous risk of cross-infection.

On Jan. 27, Zhang, who is also the president of Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, arrived in Wuhan, and quickly suggested hierarchical and classified management as well as centralized isolation for the “four types of people”.

Confirmed patients with mild and severe symptoms should be treated separately, and hotels and schools could be remodelled and used to ease the shortage of healthcare resources, Zhang quickly suggested.

“Based on our previous experience, we suggested using traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to treat all the ‘four types of people’. TCM has certain effects on all such cases, whether it’s the common cold, flu, or novel coronavirus pneumonia,” Zhang noted.

“After taking TCM, patients calmed down. Many of them saw their fever go away one or two days after taking TCM, and they didn’t panic anymore,” Zhang said.

With the number of confirmed cases continuing to rise, Wuhan started to build Fangcang temporary hospitals to treat patients.

Zhang and Liu Qingquan, deputy chief of the national TCM expert group, submitted their request for assignment, and suggested introducing TCM into Fangcang hospitals, and even recommended that it play a leading role in certain hospitals.

After receiving approval from the central guidance team for the epidemic, the first TCM medical team was set up. The Fangcang hospital in Wuhan’s Jiangxia district mainly used comprehensive TCM treatment methods to treat patients.

“I was just doing what I was supposed to do in Wuhan. I’m gratified by the fact that TCM plays an important role in combating the epidemic and benefits many people,” Zhang said.

Zhang’s daily tasks in Wuhan included providing guidance for clinical treatment, examining patients in isolation wards, drafting prescriptions, inspecting hospitals, organizing and coordinating treatment, as well as taking part in symposiums.

“Every day, I was working at full capacity and around the clock. Sometimes when we didn’t have enough time to eat while the Fangcang hospitals were being constructed, I ate instant noodles,” Zhang disclosed.

In the small hours of Feb. 15, Zhang felt a sudden and unbearable pain in his stomach. At that time, Wuhan experienced a sudden drop in air temperature and it began to snow. Meanwhile, the Fangcang hospital where TCM was mainly being used had just recently opened, which meant a lot of affairs had to be dealt with.

“I thought I caught a cold in the Fangcang hospital. And when I felt the pain concentrating in my gallbladder area, I thought that was bad, as it could have been cholecystitis,” Zhang recalled.

Zhang was still preoccupied with his work and just wanted some basic treatment for himself, but his attending doctor was adamant. “This can’t be delayed anymore. You must have a cholecystectomy right now.”

After the surgery, Zhang was still worried about the patients in hospitals even as he himself was lying on a hospital bed.

“I can’t just lie in bed like this when we are at the most critical stage of epidemic prevention and control,” Zhang insisted.

Zhang had been thinking about how to use TCM to save severe and critical patients.

Under the recommendation of medical experts including Zhang, the central guidance team established a consultation group featuring a combination of TCM and Western medicine experts, which began providing one-to-one consultations and treatment plans for severely affected patients.

“During my hospitalization, we also mobilized Union Hospital affiliated to Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology and Wuhan Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine to jointly set up a dedicated management platform for the recovery of medical workers infected with the novel coronavirus in Hubei,” Zhang explained.

Building this platform will be a major task for the next one to two years, Zhang added.


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(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)

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