Military medics leave Wuhan after fulfilling anti-virus duties

Military medics sent to assist in Wuhan's fight against the novel coronavirus have fulfilled their missions and returned home, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Xinhua reported on Thursday afternoon that the medics from the People's Liberation Army and People's Armed Police Force left Wuhan-Hubei's provincial capital that was hit hardest by the contagion-in several batches by air and railway.

Before leaving the city, medics sterilized equipment and returned the hospitals to local medical authorities, Xinhua said.

Following instructions from President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, the Chinese military had deployed more than 4,000 medical personnel to join in epidemic control efforts in Wuhan starting on Jan 24.

Three medical facilities in the city-Huoshenshan Hospital, Taikang Tongji Hospital and the Guanggu branch of Hubei Maternity and Child Health Care Hospital, with a total of 2,856 beds-were placed under the military's management. Medics at the three hospitals treated a total of 7,198 patients, and none of the doctors and nurses contracted the highly infectious disease, said the report.

In order to deploy the medics as soon as possible, the PLA Air Force organized four air transport operations in January and February, arranging 30 flights to Wuhan.

During the third transport mission on Feb 13, the Air Force used six Y-20, three Il-76 and two Y-9 transport planes to deploy hundreds of medics as well as supplies from seven cities across the nation-including Urumqi in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Shenyang in Liaoning province and Chengdu in Sichuan province-to Wuhan.

It is believed to be the largest nonmilitary operation of the Air Force's transport fleet in its history. It also marked the first nonmilitary deployment of the domestically developed Y-20, one of the world's largest strategic heavy-lift transport planes.

Aside from the Wuhan mission, 63 military hospitals nationwide were tasked with receiving patients who had contracted the coronavirus and provided nearly 3,000 beds, Major General Chen Jingyuan, top health official at the Central Military Commission's Logistics Support Department, told a news conference in Beijing in early March.

More than 10,000 medics at those hospitals were involved in the battle with the disease, he noted.

In addition to hospitalization, medical experts from the military also developed a vaccine and have started clinical trials.

In another development, the transport support team sent by the PLA to Wuhan has been disbanded, having completed their tasks, Xinhua reported.

Due to the impact from the outbreak, there had been shortages in manpower and transport capacity in Wuhan's logistics businesses since late January, forcing the city government to ask the military for help.

After receiving orders from the Central Military Commission, the PLA Hubei Provincial Command established a team with 260 members and 130 trucks in February, tasking it with assisting local logistic companies to transport daily necessities such as vegetables to markets and helping local government departments move materials to temporary hospitals.