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Global medical workers join the fight in Shanghai

Niels DeConinck treats a non-COVID-19 patient at Jiahui International Hospital in Shanghai on April 28. (ZHU XINGXIN / CHINA DAILY)

While Chinese medical workers represent the majority of people fighting against Shanghai's epidemic resurgence, a number of foreign medics are also devoting their efforts to helping the city get through the difficult time.

Niels DeConinck, a French doctor from Jiahui International Hospital's emergency department, is one of them.

Since the city started to thwart the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak in late March, he and his medical team have maintained a full complement of staff and remained operational.

"If there's a surge of patients, or if there's a new problem, it'll be easy for us to just come down and help," said DeConinck, who has lived and worked in Shanghai for 13 years.

"We have been able to have enough doctors on call at all times."

China Daily visited the hospital on April 28. The emergency department had a dedicated area to care for patients in urgent situations, even if they did not have a recent nucleic acid test result.

"We adjusted our workflows and created different areas in the emergency room to make sure that everyone coming in is seen quickly, safely and not exposed to any risk, particularly the risk of COVID-19," he added.

"For example, we had a worker who walked in at midnight with chest pain," DeConinck recalled.

"It was a very time-sensitive situation, so our team wore the full personal protective equipment, and immediately assessed and treated the patient. He ended up being diagnosed with a heart attack.

"For such a very urgent condition, we provide medical care first," he confirmed, later emphasizing that it is also critically important for the staff to always remain safe, in order to continue to help as many patients as possible.

"We're on the front line, so we cannot afford to make a single mistake."

After working for a public hospital in Paris for several years, DeConinck decided to try something different and so he came to China.

"I don't think I would have stayed that long if I didn't like it. It's the love in this job that keeps me going."

Ono Himiko, a Japanese doctor from Shanghai Punan Hospital of Pudong New District, has also stuck to her post during the epidemic in the city.

As a team member among those taking nucleic acid samples in neighborhoods, she has sometimes had to help more than 1,000 residents complete the tests a day.

Despite the hard work, the Hiroshima native said that there are always some small things that warm her heart.

Showing a picture of some pink flower-shaped snacks, she said it was a gift from a resident.

"I didn't accept it due to the epidemic control requirement. So I took a photo of it, because I wanted to capture this sweet moment," she said.

"I believe the feeling between people will become deeper if we can stay strong in the battle against the epidemic."

Park Youngjin, a South Korean doctor at Punan Hospital, has had similar gifts-paintings with hearts and medics wearing protective clothes-from Shanghai residents while taking nucleic acid samples in communities.

"I studied medicine because I wanted to serve and save others," he said. "So it's my responsibility to help Shanghai and its people get through this difficult time, as the city is our common home."

caoyin@chinadaily.com.cn