Podcast: Story in the Story (4/16/2020 Thu.)
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From the People's Daily App.

This is Story in the Story.

There are 1,075 asymptomatic patients under medical observation in the Chinese mainland, including 721 from Hubei Province. 

The registration fee in Chinese hospitals is normally 10 yuan but there is no compulsory national standard. Some hospitals charge 1,200 yuan for registration with top doctors. 

The figure may range from 10 to more than 1,000 yuan depending on the policy of local bureaus, the level of different hospitals and doctors. 

Chinese netizens expressed support for revered respiratory disease expert Zhong Nanshan after media reported that the registration fee for his diagnosis costs as much as $169, stressing his popularity in the country where Zhong has led the national team of medical experts twice in fighting virus invasion, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today’s Story in the Story looks at China’s respiratory medical sector and the country’s growing demand for respiratory disease experts.


Zhong Nanshan (Photo: Xinhua)

Zhong Nanshan, 84, head of China's COVID-19 expert team, usually receives patients every Thursday afternoon at the First Affiliate Hospital of the Guangzhou Medical University, in Guangdong Province.

The hospital's WeChat account that the registration fee for Zhong's diagnosis is 1,200 yuan per patient. But the number of reservation slots for Zhong's diagnosis on April 9 was zero, meaning he will not receive patients that day. 

Working staff of the hospital said that Zhong's diagnosis has been suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic as he and his team are devoted to combating the pandemic.

He will resume outpatient consultations after the pandemic, the staff member said. 

The price for Zhong's diagnosis triggered heated discussions on Chinese social media platforms, with some questioning if it conforms to national standards or makes poorer people more difficult to access top physicians.

Many netizens support the pricing, saying Zhong deserves the price, and the steep price can prevent people with minor cases like a cold, which is a waste of time. 

Netizens called for more respect to medical professionals like Zhong who fought at the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are far more valuable than pop stars whose concert ticket prices could be several times Zhong's registration fee, netizens said. 

"Zhong has abundant experience and knowledge. He can timely identify the cause of diseases in patients. The time and money he saves for the patient is worth more than 1,200 yuan," a netizen said on Weibo. 

"Patients will flood to Zhong if the registration fee for his diagnosis is low. He is already 84, he would not be able to handle such a demand," another said.  


A 216-strong medical team is released from a 14-day quarantine in Tianjin on Thursday after returning from Hubei Province where they helped combat the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo: cnsphoto)

Zhong told media in 2018 that he only receive patients with difficult and complicated diseases. Aside from outpatient services, he would also help other doctors treat difficult cases. 

Zhong and his team have been working on the anti-pandemic frontline for more than two months. Some members of his team took charge of over 20 beds in the intensive care unit at the Wuhan Union Hospital and he had treated 68 critical COVID-19 patients as of March 13. 

They have also attended telemedicines for COVID-19 patients across the country and closely communicated with foreign experts, including those from the US, Germany and South Korea, to exchange experiences on treating COVID-19 patients. 

During the outbreak of SARS in 2003, Zhong's team was the first in the world to formulate a set of standards for clinical diagnosis of SARS. Guangdong Province, one of the hardest hit areas during the SARS outbreak where Zhong works, reportedly holds the highest cure rate and the lowest mortality rate in the world.

"I am now gravely concerned with the epidemic in the US, and if it gets worse, it will become a global problem," Zhong said during a COVID-19 international experience sharing and exchange video conference.

Zhong said that he noticed a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 patients in the US, suggesting that the country has begun mass screening of its citizens.

Screening in the US is progressing very advanced, Zhong noted. It takes about 15-20 minutes for a patient to get test results, while it currently takes an hour and a half in China, he said.

"US has made much progress in testing and determining the infected patients, but tracing all their close contacts, separating them, isolating them and cutting the transmission chain is much important," Zhong said. 

(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Lance Crayon, Brian Lowe and Da Hang. Music by bensound.com. Text from Global Times.)