When 31-year-old engineer Edison Zhang was diagnosed with the deadly novel coronavirus, which has killed hundreds of people in his home city of Wuhan, he was actually relieved.
As Zhang got increasingly sick, the worst part was waiting for a diagnosis.
“At the beginning, I was scared and fearful,” he said. But once his case was confirmed, he stopped worrying. “I knew from this point, there’s no other choice but to receive treatment,” Zhang added.
Zhang was fortunate to receive a diagnosis. There are reports in parts of China that a shortage of testing kits and inaccurate results are leading to long delays in the diagnosis and treatment of coronavirus patients.
As of Monday, there were more than 71,000 cases of the disease globally and more than 1,700 deaths – the vast majority of which have occurred in Hubei province, the central region of China where the virus was first detected.
But as the death toll rises, so does the tally of those who have survived.
Chinese state-run media has been heavily publicizing the virus-free former patients, showing footage of them receiving flowers and leaving hospital. Zhang is one of more than 10,000 people to have recovered from coronavirus after receiving an official diagnosis.
Zhang is currently undergoing a 14-day quarantine in a government-assigned hotel in the city of Chongqing, where he had traveled to with his wife’s parents for the Lunar New Year.
He arrived in the city from Wuhan on January 22 with his wife and parents-in-law. The next day, his father-in-law went to hospital because he had developed a cough.
“We had strongly asked for a nasopharyngeal swab test … because we felt that all his symptoms were similar (to that of coronavirus),” Zhang said. But the county hospital refused to perform the test.
A few days later, his wife came down with a fever. On January 30, a nasopharyngeal swab test showed both she and her father had been infected by the novel coronavirus, officially called Covid-19. The next day, Zhang and his mother-in-law were given nasal swab tests as well. The whole family had been infected.
“Had we done the nasopharyngeal swab tests earlier, maybe not all four of us in the family would be infected,” Zhang said.
The family was diagnosed at a county hospital that wasn’t able to treat them. “We were all transferred to a higher-level hospital in the city … the ambulance collected us directly from the county hospital and took us to the city hospital. Point to point. There was no stopover,” he said.
During his treatment, Zhang said he was constantly asking doctors about the drugs he was being given. He researched online how his treatment compared to that of severe acute respiratory syn