Medical workers carry a patient into an ambulance in New York, the United States, April 6, 2020. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Xinhua)
The US has overtaken China since late March with the most COVID-19 cases. Facing unprecedented difficulties, hundreds of US health workers joined the platform created by Ye Baixin, a hematologist with the Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, in need of advice.
"Although we're better off than New York, the situation where I live is not optimistic," a basic care physician surnamed Zhang based in Dallas and Oklahoma told the Global Times. She received six COVID-19 patients last week.
Compared with the China-US political arena where some US politicians have launched slanderous attacks against China and played the blame-shifting game, the "Global health professionals on COVID-19" chatrooms created by Ye have witnessed reciprocity and cooperation.
When membership of the chatrooms surpassed 1,300, Ye and his team did a survey, concluding that about 600 were working in the US, nearly 500 in China - mostly in Wuhan, and the rest were in 20 other countries including the UK, France and Italy. The majority of the "global health professionals" are ethnic Chinese.
Ye has also received several messages, mostly from the Chinese American members, saying they are eager to introduce this platform to their colleagues. Ye happily responded, "All health workers, regardless of nationality and race, are welcome. The more widely the Wuhan experience can be shared, the better."
US doctors appeared to get lost and anxious in coping with the virus as it ravaged the country. In the hospital Zhang worked with, problems arose such as a shortage of personal protective equipment and lack of understanding of the virus. One staff member gets one surgical mask every week, and the masks are not the N95 ones.
Zhang received donations from a Chinese entrepreneur, including more than 1,000 masks, 100 sets of protective outfits and 100 goggles. She shared them with 18 Chinese doctors in the US and 10 of her colleagues.
Ye and his team have tried to boost confidence by sharing their stories of how medical personnel conquered the pandemic in Wuhan.
As one chatroom could only hold 500 members, two more were created to meet increasing demand from foreign doctors. And with the help of Tencent, which runs WeChat, a chatroom that allows 10,000 members was created. As most of the members in each group can speak English, language is not a problem.
Many frontline US medics said they had gained both faith and clinical treatment plans from the chatrooms. Zhang was among them. The doctor with almost 30-year clinical experience joined one of the chatroom as soon as it was opened to learn from China's experience.
Wuhan doctors have been eager to answer questions related to personal protection and clinical practice. A doctor in New York suspected he contracted the coronavirus, and Chinese health workers rapidly responded and offered advice, which helped the doctor pull through.
In addition to questions and answers, online lectures have also been conducted in the chatrooms delivered by prestigious Chinese medical experts. Zhang Jinnong, director of the emergency department at Wuhan Union Hospital, on March 28, shared his struggles with COVID-19.
The US professional Zhang was impressed by a lecture co-hosted by three Chinese experts, including Shanghai-based infectious disease doctor Zhang Wenhong, a Wuhan medic.
"China has been doing professional, systematic and well-organized works. I learned a lot, especially from their analyses of clinical data," she said.
On Saturday, the eighth lecture was held.
Recently, discussions on scientific progress have dominated, such as the rare symptoms of the disease that have received scant attention in Wuhan. Chinese doctors also acquired updated knowledge from abroad.
Despite certain US politicians' attacks against China and racist rhetoric against the China, health professionals who use the chatrooms have focused on how to maintain people's well-being regardless of their nationality. As Zhang noted, "Only China-US cooperation is the priority." Topics on politics, religion and racial discrimination are forbidden in the chat rooms.
Ye expects the chatrooms will serve as a humanitarian bond that connects all his peers worldwide, and brings together the knowledge, experience and resources to tackle the disease, rather than a platform for political debate.
"As long as the chatrooms have some value, we will keep running them," Ye said. "We're living in a 'global village,' so helping others is helping ourselves."