Shaved Heads, Adult Diapers: Life as a Nurse in the Coronavirus Outbreak


Zhang Wendan and her household had been celebrating the Lunar New Yr when the 27-year-old nurse acquired a discover from the hospital: report again to work and be a part of the battle to comprise the coronavirus outbreak.

Ms. Zhang lives in Huanggang, in Hubei Province, the place the virus originated. Two days earlier officers had sealed off her metropolis in a determined try to cease it from spreading. Her mom quietly cried whereas Ms. Zhang and her fiancé went to her room to pack for her journey.

The expertise on the hospital, Ms. Zhang says, has been harrowing, particularly as a girl.

Like all of her colleagues, Ms. Zhang grew accustomed to carrying sweat-soaked garments beneath her swimsuit. She accepted that there weren’t sufficient masks to go round for employees. She took care to not tug on the seams of her protecting swimsuit, having realized the exhausting means that it’ll unravel. However she has additionally reduce off all of her hair and needed to have uncomfortable conversations together with her superiors about menstruation.

For private hygiene and comfort, Ms. Zhang had her hair reduce quick throughout her 30 days within the quarantine zone of the hospital. Chinese language state media has called female medical workers who shave their heads “probably the most lovely warriors” combating the outbreak. On the grocery retailer, “somebody referred to as me ‘good-looking!’” Ms. Zhang mentioned. The hospital paid for the haircut.

Probably the most tough second for Ms. Zhang got here when her superiors — virtually all males — instructed her and her feminine colleagues that they “lacked the spirit of devotion” and self-discipline after they sought assist getting pads and tampons.


Solely provides cleared by the authorities could make it into the town, so getting these merchandise had change into tough for a lot of girls. As the times wore on, she mentioned she felt her spirit was “breaking down slowly.”

It took a bunch of volunteers to take discover and ship some 2,000 grownup diapers to the hospital to accommodate its 500 feminine employees.

Ms. Zhang mentioned the hospital’s response to the unique request hit a uncooked nerve for her and so many ladies who say it’s tough to search out time within the day simply to go to the lavatory, not to mention cope with menstruation whereas carrying a poorly made full-body protecting swimsuit. And this was not the primary time that medical professionals on the entrance line had complained about their working situations.

In Hubei Province nurses and medical doctors have pleaded for more masks, 1000’s of well being employees have been amongst latest confirmed instances of an infection and several other have died.

“I fear about being contaminated, I miss house,” Ms. Zhang mentioned. Now that her task on the entrance line has ended, she is ready out her personal 14-day quarantine at a close-by lodge earlier than she returns house to her household.

When that is throughout, she mentioned she appears to be like ahead to seeing her household once more, taking a pleasant lengthy bathtub and consuming meals cooked by her mom, who on three events throughout the task made her meals together with dishes of potatoes, carrots, lamb kebabs, scrambled eggs with chili and even rib soup. Ms. Zhang picked them up from the sidewalk exterior her household house whereas her mom watched from a protected distance.

She additionally appears to be like ahead to her marriage ceremony, at which she says she plans to put on a wig. She has put down a deposit for a gown however hasn’t picked one out but. She tries to be upbeat, particularly when she talks to her fiancé. Their marriage ceremony day is scheduled for April 24.

“I hope I can’t should delay it,” she mentioned.

Wang Yiwei contributed analysis from Beijing.

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