COVID-19: Hospital Director contracts virus & dies; Chinese medical staff shave their heads to ward off virus
The Global Times has reported that the director of Wuchang Hospital, Liu Zhiming, has passed away as a result of COVID-19.
Zhiming is the first director to die amid the outbreak that's so far caused at least 72,531 infections in China.
Some reports say current data appears to show a decline in the number of new infections since early this month.
A recent study by an agency associated with the National Health Commission found that more than 80% of people who contracted COVID-19 experienced mild symptoms and recovered, while 14% of the cases studied included severe symptoms, like pneumonia and shortness of breath.
About 5% of patients had critical symptoms, such as organ and respiratory failure and septic shock.
While these numbers appear to offer a glimmer of hope, the virus continues to leave affected regions with another concern that should be addressed- fear.
The fear of contracting COVID-19 is impacting certain regions in China and elsewhere in a variety of ways.
While some areas are running out of essential supplies due to panic-buying, others are taking extreme measures to avoid contracting the virus.
In one area within the Gansu Province, for example, female medical staff are shaving their heads to "better protect themselves" from contracting the illness.
Many Chinese female medical staff have shaved their heads before joining in the rescue mission in coronavirus outbreak epicenter of #Hubei Province. Some netizens call it an insult to #women. #COVID19 https://t.co/e3JTTajGMJ pic.twitter.com/wP3fsxW9oY— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) February 18, 2020
A video shared on social media showed several female nurses from the Gansu Provincial Maternity and Childcare Hospital sitting in front of cameras while their long hair was shaved down to the scalp, many of the women crying during the process.
A member of the hospital staff told Global Times that some believe shaving their hair off reduces the chance of being infected and makes it easier to clean. The staff also stressed that the women were not forced to shave their hair, but did so voluntarily.
Despite this, after the aforementioned video went viral, many claimed that the nurses were forced to shave their hair and said the entire incident represented an insult to women.
A viral WeChat article commented that the nurses' tears had been used to "impress audiences" and "the fact that behind their tears is probably the word 'no' was totally ignored."
Incidentally, China National Radio reported that the majority of the doctors and medical personnel on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19 are women; more than 50% of the doctors and over 90% of the nurses are female.
In any case, as researchers struggle to create a vaccine to fight novel coronavirus, experts seem to agree that the most we can do now is work to contain it. And as long as efforts to contain the virus continue, it's likely that so will accounts of extreme reactions to these efforts and to the virus itself.