The last group of medical workers dispatched to support Hubei in fighting COVID-19 outbreak left the province on April 15, ending their 80-day battle against the virus.
The first batch of assisting medical teams arrived in Wuhan, capital of Hubei on Jan. 24, the Chinese New Year’s Eve, and the move was soon followed by Jiangxi, Hunan, Shandong, Heilongjiang, and Shaanxi that all established assisting forces to help Hubei fight the epidemic.
Two days later, the first batch of 21 medical workers dispatched by Peking Union Medical College Hospital (PUMCH) arrived in Wuhan, and the following two batches sent by the hospital later expanded the number to 186.
They took over the wards for severe and critical patients on the west part of the 9th floor, Building C of the Sino-French New City Branch of Wuhan’s Tongji Hospital affiliated to the Huazhong University of Science and Technology.
The transfer of the last severely ill patient to the hospital’s ICU on April 12 marked the completion of their mission there.
On April 15, before the PUMCH medics left the city, flocks of Wuhan citizens gathered near the Zhonghe International Hotel in Caidian district, the temporary residence of the doctors and nurses, to bid a farewell.
A volunteer named Xiong Haojun invited the medical workers to sign their names on a white protective suit, saying he would keep it as a collection so as to have the medical workers forever remembered by the people in Wuhan and Hubei.
A nurse named Chen Yuanyuan from the intensive care unit with the PUMCH tightly held an almost-dried apple in her hand where a smiling face was drawn and “ICU, Victory, Yuanyuan” was written.
“The apple was given to each one of us by our department before we left Beijing on Feb. 7 as a token of safety. Now, I’m going to bring it home, together with my colleagues,” Chen said, with her eyes watering.
“Wuhan is our second hometown. The heroic people in Wuhan stood up and fought back at the epidemic with perseverance and sacrifice. We salute to them!” Zhang Shuyang, head of the PUMCH medical team, made the remarks at a farewell ceremony.
At 10:45 a.m., six buses carrying the medics left the hotel for the Wuhan Tianhe International Airport. On both sides of the road, people waved goodbye to the medics with national flags in their hands.
“Thank you, Beijing. Stay strong and be brave, Wuhan!” A 5-year-old girl shouted.
“Dear colleagues, you have exemplified angels in white’s spirit of healing the wounded and rescuing the dying with bravery and selflessness. We sincerely invite you to come to Wuhan again and visit your comrades-in-arms. People in the city will always be grateful to you,” said Hu Junbo, head of Tongji Hospital.
Over 42,000 medical workers of more than 300 medical teams from across the country were dispatched to aid Hubei since the virus outbreak. By April 15, they’ve all withdrawn from the city.
“We arrived here in winter and left it in spring. We are both excited and reluctant to leave, and we’ll miss the city,” said Zhang.
Medics from the Peking Union Medical College Hospital bid a farewell to Wuhan making a heart shape over their heads at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport, April 15, 2020. Wu Yu/People’s Daily Online