In the face of widespread uncertainty about the real dangers of the disease, doctors shoulder a major responsibility in addition to fighting the virus itself. That is to spread scientific knowledge by establishing correct guidance and instructions for how citizens should respond to Covid-19.
It’s no small matter to become a role model for ordinary people during such a major crisis, but Dr Zhang Wenhong, the head of the Center of Infectious Diseases, Huashan Hospital of Fudan University, achieved that by explaining the pandemic in a casual and clear way, earning him the nickname “Dad Zhang” on social media.
The Shanghai-based doctor first drew national attention when he ordered doctors to the front lines in non-negotiable terms: “All frontline positions should be replaced by Communist Party members, no bargaining, me too,” he said.
Netizens scrambled to spread various quotes of his: “You’re bored?” he asked. “Then you’re boring the virus to death!”
When referring to the war between ordinary people and the virus, he proposed “fighting by staying at home and suffocating the virus”. When it came to the contribution of entrepreneurs, he said, “paying employees as usual is a major contribution to the society”.
Referring to plans to go back to normal daily routine, he reminded everyone to “guard against the fire, the thief and the colleagues”. And people gradually started to comply.
There’s an ancient saying: “Doctors heal people, and wise men heal the heart”. Zhang has brought that same sense of security to the public. Whether through his WeChat account, his articles about the pandemic or his speeches on live-stream sites, his authority, straightforwardness and rationality have answered a lot of questions from people who are confused and nervous.
By avoiding rigid preaching, Zhang gave people a better understanding of the medical science involved, though he doesn’t care much about his unexpected popularity.
“As a professional, it is my responsibility to tell people the truth, because only public knowledge of Covid-19 could help prevent and control the situation,” he said. “When it is all over, I will no longer have anything to share with you. Everything will eventually return to normal. This is also the life we all aspire to now.”