Chinese TCM physician recalls 3-year mission against COVID-19
Liu Hua

Zhang Zhongde has been like a super man for the past three years with just one mission: fighting off COVID-19 whenever called upon.

Zhang, the president of Guangdong Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine in south China's Guangzhou Province, has been engaged in infectious disease prevention and treatment for 35 years. 

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Zhang has taken part in 14 missions against the virus across the country.

Zhang said the most outstanding tradition of the Chinese nation is that when disaster struck, help came from all sides. Therefore, when central China's Wuhan City was seriously struck by COVID-19 at that time, as a Chinese, he was obliged to lend a hand.

On the battlefield in Wuhan, Zhang lost about 7 kilograms in terms of body weight in around two months as he worked 15 to 17 hours a day. Given that medical workers didn't know enough about the virus, so most of them didn't have a good sleep due to the work pressure. Zhang said that he wasn't the only one to lose weight. "You can see my hair becoming gray. My boss once even joked that 'three years ago, it was hard to find a gray hair among your black hair, but now, it's hard to find a black hair among your gray hair.' Luckily we all got over it," Zhang said.

People call him "Uncle De" out of respect because of his contribution to the people. He attributes his motivation to what he experienced during the 2003 global SARS outbreak. "We often feel grateful, as we were infected when SARS came. Who saved us? The hospitals, the society, the government, the Party saved us at all costs. They brought me back to life. It's time for me to give back," Zhang explained.

China has always put people first, and that is what inspired Zhang the most.

In order to save a pregnant woman with 28-week triple fetus, authorities in southwest China's Yunnan Province organized a medical team of more than 40 people from areas including pediatrics, anesthesiology, obstetrics, intensive care medicine and traditional Chinese medicine, besides the logistical support and so on. Zhang said that when their team helped the woman successfully give birth to triplets, they got deeper understanding about the country's principle of putting people first.

In March 2022, Zhang led a batch of 300 doctors and nurses to Hong Kong to help contain the city's worst virus flare-up.

"I was very excited as we were the first large medical team from mainland to work in Hong Kong. It's also something groundbreaking and historical. Together with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's government and the Department of Health, we made several breakthroughs, including forming the first Chinese and Western medicine team," Zhang said, recalling his work at Hong Kong's first temporary hospital for COVID-19.

Zhang and his team had worked at the hospital located in the venue housing the Asia World-Expo. As the epidemic situation has gradually been taken under control in May 2022, the hospital has turned to standby mode. Hong Kong's Hospital Authority expressed their appreciation for the mainland medical support team, saying that the mainland team not only strengthened the admission capacity of the treatment center for patients but also brought valuable anti-epidemic experience to the team.

Zhang said when the lights went out in the temporary hospital in Hong Kong, the future looked brighter in terms of Hong Kong's capability to respond to similar public health emergencies. And when medical teams of the mainland and Hong Kong said goodbye to each other after finishing their mission, the people became more united.

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