coronavirus update indiaas on : 26 September 2020 05:31 GMT+5:30
Coronavirus Outbreak: Doctor, Who Alerted China, Recalls Her First Case of COVID-19
COVID-19: In China 4,632 people have died of coronavirus, while a total of 82,692v positive cases were reported.
Coronavirus Outbreak: Doctor, Who Alerted China, Recalls Her First Case of COVID-19(File Image)
NEW DELHI: The highly contagious coronavirus or COVID-19 which has devastated China and the world was first discovered in an elderly couple late last year in Wuhan in December through a CT scan done by a woman Dr. Zhang Jixian, the official media reported on Friday, praising her for alerting the authorities about the deadly virus.
Since its emergence in China's city Wuhan, the coronavirus has so far killed at least 145,000 globally and over 2.1 million positive cases have been recorded, This has become a source of concern and controversy as China is yet to reveal the details of virus's source or origin. In China, 4,632 people died of COVID-19 while 82,692 positive cases were reported.
On December 26 2019, an elderly couple from a nearby community visited the Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, Zhang, a veteran respiratory doctor in a Wuhan hospital. She recalled how the coronavirus, emerged from a seemingly ordinary case.
Since the virus came to light, there is a question mark about the "zero" case of the COVID-19 which could throw light on how it emerged from what is believed to be an animal to human and then progressed into human to human transmission.
China faced criticism from countries around the globe for revealing too little about the virus which spread to Wuhan and the world like wildfire.
Talking about the first case, Ms Zhang, director of the hospital's respiratory and critical care medicine department recalled that the symptoms of the old couple included fever, coughing and tiredness, which "looked like flu or common pneumonia."
When their CT scan images reached Dr. Zhang the next day, the 54-year-old doctor noticed features that are different from flu or common pneumonia, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Ms. Zhang's experience during the 2003 SARS outbreak, when she worked as a medical expert investigating suspected patients in Wuhan, made her sensitive to signs of an epidemic. After reading the CT images of the elderly couple, she summoned their son, demanding a CT scan of him too.
"At first their son refused to be examined. He showed no symptoms or discomfort, and believed we were trying to cheat money out of him," Ms Zhang said.
It was Ms Zhang's insistence that brought her the second piece of evidence: the son's lungs showed the same abnormalities as those of his parents.
"It is unlikely that all three members of a family caught the same disease at the same time unless it is an infectious disease," Ms Zhang told Xinhua.
Also on December 27, the hospital attended another patient who also developed symptoms of coughing and fever and showed the same lung images in the CT scan.
The blood tests of the four indicated viral infections. Zhang also prescribed them a series of influenza-related tests. All turned out negative.
That day, she filed a report to the hospital, which was soon submitted it to the district-level centre for disease control and prevention. "The report is about how we discovered a viral disease, probably infectious," she said.
Back then, Ms Zhang could not know it was among the first medical reports of an epidemic that has "spread the fastest, caused the most extensive infections and been the hardest to contain since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949."
After filing the report, Ms. Zhang cordoned off an area in the department's ward to hospitalise the four patients. She then demanded medics in the ward to exercise self-protection.
The arrivals of another three patients with similar lung images in the next two days further alarmed the hospital, which on December 29 convened a panel of 10 experts to discuss the seven cases, the report said.
Their conclusion that the situation was extraordinary, plus information of two similar cases in other hospitals, prompted the hospital to report directly to the municipal and provincial health authorities.
Upon receiving the report, the authorities on the same day ordered an epidemiological investigation. That evening, experts from Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, a hospital designated to treat contagious diseases, visited Ms Zhang's hospital and fetched six of the seven patients.
That day, Ms. Zhang ordered all respiratory doctors and nurses to wear masks, as a precautionary measure believed to help achieve zero infection of the medics in the department between late December and January 30.
According to an official timeline released on April 6 on China's response to coronavirus, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission on December 30 sent out an urgent notification to medical institutions under its jurisdiction about an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown cause in the city.
In February, the Hubei provincial human resources and social security department and the provincial health commission awarded Ms. Zhang for her exemplary service, hailing her as "the first to report the epidemic in the province" and recognising her leadership and arduous work in the hospital's fight against COVID-19.
The doctor said, "I was just doing what a doctor was supposed to do, driven by professionalism," she said.