As the outbreak has mostly run its course in the epicenter of the novel coronavirus epidemic, Wuhan began to say "good-bye" to dear medics who rushed to the rescue about two months ago.
WUHAN, March 17 (Xinhua) -- The first batch of medical assistance teams started leaving Hubei Province early on Tuesday as the epidemic outbreak in the hard-hit province has been subdued.
The 3,675 medical staffers belonging to 41 medical teams from across China have assisted 14 temporary hospitals and seven designated hospitals in Wuhan, the provincial capital and epicenter of the outbreak.
At about 7:30 a.m. the national emergency medical rescue team from northwest China's Shaanxi Province departed by bus. Police officers at the expressway toll-gate saluted while watching their vehicles leave. Some of the team members shed tears behind their masks.
Medics from southwest China's Guizhou Province wave goodbye to police saluting to them during their departure in a bus in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, March 17, 2020. Some medical assistance teams started leaving Hubei Province on Tuesday as the epidemic outbreak in the hard-hit province has been subdued. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu)
The Shaanxi team consists of 43 experienced doctors and nurses from departments including emergency treatment, gynecology and obstetrics, pediatrics and neurology as well as psychology under the Shaanxi Provincial People's Hospital.
"We arrived in Wuhan on Feb. 4 and worked in two temporary hospitals over the past 40 days. Together with colleagues from Wuhan and Henan Province, we managed 988 beds and treated 1,235 patients," said Ma Fuchun, head of the team. "Thankfully, we achieved zero patient deaths and zero infection of medics during our stay here."
"Our presence here not only reduced the burdens of local medical workers but, more importantly, brought confidence to disease-ridden Wuhan residents. It was also a good opportunity to hone our team," he said.
Over 42,000 medical workers from across the country were dispatched to aid Hubei in fighting the epidemic since the virus outbreak.
Railway police salute to medics from southwest China's Guizhou Province who have boarded a train at Wuhan Railway Station in central China's Hubei Province, March 17, 2020. Some medical assistance teams started leaving Hubei Province on Tuesday as the epidemic outbreak in the hard-hit province has been subdued. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu)
Hubei province reported only one new confirmed case of the novel coronavirus disease on Monday, and has seen 55,987 patients discharged from hospitals after recovery. On the same day, the leading group of China's novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response demanded the orderly withdrawal of medical staff supporting Hubei.
While the Shaanxi team was heading north, 42 medics from the Hunan Province neighboring Hubei set out on the journey home down south.
The Second Xiangya Hospital of Central South University sent its medical team to Wuhan on Feb. 4. Advanced equipment vans for surgeries, medical devices, outpatient service, testing, power supply and communication were dispatched to ensure instant and independent treatment of patients. Its field hospital began receiving patients on Feb. 5 and treated 394 patients in total.
"There were so many unforgettable moments during my 43 days here," said Wen Chuan, a medical staffer. "I will always remember the days the doctors and patients stuck together to keep each other warm and fight the epidemic."
Medics from southwest China's Guizhou Province enter Wuhan Railway Station as staff and railway police salute to them in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, March 17, 2020. Some medical assistance teams started leaving Hubei Province on Tuesday as the epidemic outbreak in the hard-hit province has been subdued. (Xinhua/Fei Maohua)
As of 5 p.m. planes carrying more than 3,000 members of 21 medical teams had left for the cities of Tianjin, Haikou, Yinchuan, Urumqi, among others, according to the Hubei Airports Group.
At the T3 terminal of Wuhan Tianhe International Airport, a ground crew member presented a special "VVIP boarding pass" to each passenger. The souvenir pass said the "heroes" would board at the gate "Arch of Triumph," departing Wuhan on the "victory day against the epidemic."
After measuring each passenger's forehead temperature, the staffer said, "Thank you all. Have a safe journey."
Combo photo shows medical staffer Li Jianing from the Second Xiangya Hospital of Central South University putting letters and certificates into her luggage, and a letter Li received during the International Women's Day in Wuhan, before her departure in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, March 17, 2020. (Xinhua/Shen Bohan)
Sun Yunfei, an emergency department nurse from north China's Tianjin Municipality, said he is excited to meet his son who is now eight months old.
"He learned to grab, sit and even stand with support when I was away from home. I want to spend more time and rebuild my bond with him," Sun said. "I hope the patients being treated in Wuhan will recover soon and reunite with their family."
Xie Mingfang, from north China's Hebei Province, planned to visit Wuhan again.
Xie, 35, served at a temporary hospital for patients with mild symptoms. "I'd like to return with my son soon after the epidemic is over to let him see the place I worked."
She will be quarantined for 14 days upon arrival before she can meet her eight-year-old son, who had been sent to her in-laws' care before her departure to Wuhan.
"Right now, what I want most is to watch a movie on my phone, because I barely had enough time to finish one," she said with a smile.
(Reporting by Wang Zuokui, Cao Bin, Lyu Qiuping, Yue Wenwan, Yu Pei, Shuai Cai, Cao Guochang, Zhou Huimin, Dong Xiaohong; Video reporters: Yang Zhigang, Xiao Yijiu, Wang Zuokui, Lin Juan, Yao Yu, Zhou Xuan, Wang Junfeng; Video editor: Zheng Xin) ■