WUHAN, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- China has sent 450 military medical staff, including professionals who have experience in the fight against SARS or Ebola, to the novel coronavirus hardest-hit city of Wuhan.
The medics, in three teams sent by medical universities of the army, navy and air force of the People's Liberation Army, arrived in Wuhan by military aircraft on Friday night.
The teams, composed of experts in respiratory health, infectious diseases, hospital infection control and intensive care unit (ICU), will be dispatched to the Wuhan hospitals with large numbers of novel coronavirus-related pneumonia patients, according to the military authorities.
Chinese health authorities announced Saturday that 1,287 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus, including 237 in critical conditions, had been reported in the country by the end of Friday.
The pneumonia situation had resulted in 41 deaths, the National Health Commission said.
The medics were mobilized from various hospitals affiliated to the military universities. All of them volunteered for the mission.
"We sent our best staff in various clinical departments. They have rich experience in battling contagious diseases," said Zhou Xianzhi, president of Air Force Medical University. "Some of them took part in major missions such as the battle against SARS and the fight against Ebola in Africa, as well as earthquake rescues."
Li Jun, a nurse of the pediatric ICU ward of Xijing Hospital, said she felt "extremely honored" to join this national mission.
Li canceled her plan to spend the Chinese Lunar New Year with her family and jumped right into the mission after her New Year's Eve duty at the hospital.
Li's 7-year-old daughter cried as she learned that her mom would stay in the worst-affected virus area for at least one month.
At the send-off ceremony, Li tried to avoid eye contact with her daughter but could not help breaking down in tears as she boarded the bus.
Song Liqiang, 50, is the deputy head of Xijing Hospital's Respiratory and ICU Department. He has experience working in the ICU during the SARS outbreak in 2003.
"I have no doubt that with all the concerted efforts from across the country, we will bring the situation under control," Song said.