YALE Tung Chen, the 35-year-old director of the emergency medicine ultrasound division at La Paz University Hospital in Madrid, has become an overnight celebrity after posting daily tweets about the development of his Covid-19 symptoms during self-isolation at his home in Madrid.
Dr Chen has been ‘astonished’ by the response to his daily log.
He told the Olive Press: “The warmth and support I have received from people in all different languages has made having the illness a whole lot easier.”
Chen is currently seven days into the symptoms, which, in his case, have included a bad headache, persistent cough, sore throat and fatigue.
As a self-styled ‘ultrasound addict,’ the father-of-two also posted daily ultrasounds on the state of his lungs, checking for signs of pneumonia, which is the most threatening aspect of the disease.
Mild signs have appeared but he says he is feeling better.
“They say it should be over in seven days but we have found it might take a little longer,” he says. “Once I have no symptoms at all, I will retest myself.”
Working in a hospital, Chen was able to do a test for the virus as soon as he started to feel off colour.
Others in Spain don’t have it so easy. In fact, a temperature of 39ºC, a dry cough and headache will not get you confirmation – direct contact with someone else testing positive will.
“I think that’s a mistake,” says Chen, “because the way to deal with the outbreak is to make the test as freely available as possible.”
But the doctor does say that of course while that was the ‘very effective’ approach in South Korea, things are different in Europe.
“It probably makes sense for anyone who is mildly symptomatic to just stay at home and use common cold treatment,” he says.
According to some sources, the virus cannot survive temperatures of over 26ºC or 27ºC, suggesting a warm spell of weather or drinking hot fluids could be the answer. But that is not something Chen could verify.
“What I understand from the Chinese experience is that the virus gets killed at 56ºC, so I wonder if drinking hot fluids would be enough,” he says. “And in any case, we can’t reach that temperature in our bodies.”
Whether the pandemic will stretch into the summer is anyone’s guess, but Chen likes to think the Spanish government is taking the right measures while stressing the importance of spreading information on keeping the disease at bay.
Mostly that involves staying indoors which is proving trying for swathes of the population who are suddenly helping their kids with homework instead of bringing home the bacon.
Gradually coming out the other end, Chen jokes he is in need of a rest.
“I’ve been doing medical papers, reading articles and answering people on Twitter,” he says. “My wife tells me that is why I am taking so long to get better!”