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Return of the hero: infected nurse returns to frontline to fight COVID-19 (2)

By Kou Jie (People's Daily Online)    17:44, March 23, 2020

Matter of life and death 

Zhang was covered in sweat after work. (Photo by Zhang Changsheng)

Zhang works as a nurse in Xiehe Hospital in Wuhan, Hubei Province. On January 16, he was struck with a high fever. Little was known about COVID-19 at that time, and Zhang didn’t give too much thought to his illness.

“I was diagnosed with COVID-19 on January 19, along with 13 colleagues. I was quite confident that I would soon be discharged from the hospital, as I’ve always been healthy,” said Zhang.

But this illness turned out to be far more dangerous than he thought. On January 23, four days after his diagnosis, Zhang had difficulty breathing, as well as a high fever. While sick in bed, he began to worry about his wife, who is also a medical professional, and their young daughter.

“I was covered in sweat when I called my family. After I heard that my family members were all safe and sound, I was really happy. I would rather suffer the disease myself than let them share my pain,” said Zhang.

During his stay in the hospital, Zhang and his colleagues set up a group chat to cheer each other up. One of his colleagues, who suffered severe respiratory illness and had to stay in bed for days, received his encouragement everyday through the ward windows, where Zhang gave them uplifting news and shared stories with them.

Zhang also became an online celebrity when, during an interview with CCTV, he made an “OK” gesture to the audience, telling them that the disease is treatable and that he would be recovering soon. The gesture prompted netizens to nickname him “OK brother”, and they began sending him their wishes along with their questions. Zhang started to answer the public’s concerns about the lethal virus, comforting those who had already been infected.

On February 6, 19 days after he was sent to the hospital, Zhang had fully recovered and could go back to his family.

“My wife was waiting at me at the doorway. She looked at me for a few seconds, and then said three words: ‘You have returned’,” recalled Zhang.


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(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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