BARCELONA, Spain – Lin Zhanqiao was about to finish his first year residency in plastic surgery at Barcelona’s Vall d’Hebron hospital, until COVID-19 hit Spain and doctors there were re-assigned to treat a burgeoning influx of infected patients.
As a doctor specializing in plastic surgery, Lin had to suspend his studies, shifting his focus to learning more about intensive care and mechanical respiratory systems, he told Xinhua.
“It was a lot of work, but I was very happy in the end — happy to be able to give my best and see everyone give their best,” said Lin, who has been living in Spain for 22 years.
Healthcare workers account for up to 20 percent of Spain’s total COVID-19 cases, according to the country’s health ministry, putting them among the country’s worst-hit groups.
Vall d’Hebron Hospital, where Lin studies, reached close to 95 percent of its capacity for COVID-19 patients during the peak of Spain’s outbreak.
Lin said that though the pandemic has been a difficult experience for Spain overall, the uncertainty on what is going to happen next is what he believes is dominating people’s thoughts.
Meanwhile, Spain is gradually exiting one of Europe’s toughest coronavirus lockdowns, which was imposed on March 14. With the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths slowing, the country has seen a glimmer of hope.
After seeing its wards nearly full at the height of the outbreak, COVID-19 cases in Vall d’Hebron Hospital have dropped to less than 10 percent of the facility’s capacity. This, Lin believes, is in part due to members of the public adhering to the government’s containment measures.
“I think the Spanish people behaved well,” said Lin. “They have respected the restrictions and abided by orders from the government.”