Our Partners from China: “Our Life Has Returned Back to Normal”

Doctors in Wuhan, China, February 2020


“We are lucky that the COVID-19 epidemic in China was controlled shortly after the outbreak,” say our partners from West China Hospital. The hospital is located in Chengdu, a city more than 700 miles away from Wuhan, where COVID-19 first emerged late last year. Once the lockdown in the country was eased in late February-early March, a majority of the hospital programs returned to normal operations. Currently, there are only around 30-50 new daily COVID-19 cases nationwide. Our partners briefly describe the current situation with COVID-19 in their country and how West China Hospital has dealt with the pandemic.

Chengdu had 215 confirmed COVID-19 cases and three deaths. There are only nine active COVID-19 cases now. In China, there were several clusters of the epidemic found in Beijing, Xinjiang and Dalian, and they were quickly contained. The whole country reopened in late February-early March. Wuhan was reopened on April 8th. We are quite sure our daily life has been returned to normal now. At the very beginning, our hospital suspended most elective surgeries to prevent nosocomial transmission. Our CHD program also postponed the non-urgent cases for about 2.5 weeks (including 7 days of national vacation for the Spring Festival). The volume of patients with CHD returned to the pre-COVID-19 level gradually. We believe there were financial losses for the hospital, but mainly in February.

We did not experience a shortage of PPE. Surgical masks and protective gear was guaranteed. Now, there are a few more steps for all inpatients. A swab test is required for all non-emergent cases before hospitalization. Besides that, things are running normally. In general, our hospital and other local hospitals were impacted, but not severely.

Dr. Ji Peng and her team being welcomed in Chengdu upon returning from Wuhan

Dr. Ji Peng, a pediatric cardiac intensive care physician, was a member of the West China Hospital team who traveled to Wuhan at the beginning of February to help care for COVID-19 patients. She served in Wuhan for about two months and returned safely back home. Dr. Peng shares her experience in Wuhan with The BMJ.