No family time for doctor couple on coronavirus mission

Every day at around 8:00 pm, 11-year-old Lin Zihan takes two benches and sits in her doorway with her three-year-old brother, Lin Zilang, waiting for their mom's video call.

Meanwhile, at the First Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University in Nanchang City, the capital of eastern China's Jiangxi Province, emergency doctor Lin Shirong and his wife, nurse Li Ping, snuggle up together on a bench outside the isolation ward and video call their children.

“Baby, do you miss mummy?” Li said. “Yes, I miss daddy too,” Lin Zilang said, sitting outside his grandparents’ house in Tongtian Village in the city of Fengcheng. He put his mouth on the screen to give his mom a kiss.

“It has been 16 days since you guys left,” said Lin Zihan, who has hand-painted a calendar to calculate the number of days their parents have been gone.

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It was Chinese Near Year’s Eve 16 days ago. Lin Shitong took his whole family back to their home village, planning to have a good Spring Festival celebration at their newly-decorated house. However, that night Jiangxi Province scaled up the response to major public health emergencies to level one to prevent and control the pneumonia epidemic caused by the novel coronavirus. As medical workers at a major hospital in Nanchang, Lin and his wife had to rush back to the hospital immediately.

“We left in a hurry, leaving our children to their grandparents. They wouldn't let go of our hands, crying at the door,” Li said. In order to calm her little boy down, she left a stethoscope for him to play with.

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Confirmed cases were continuously increasing, and the isolation wards were getting busier each day. Li had to work at least four hours each shift in the isolation ward, and her husband was on standby 24/7.

“Despite the hard and dangerous work, I feel safe because I'm here with my husband,” Li said, adding that she worries about her two children most.

— By arrangement with Xinhua news agency