A Diary During the Pandemic from the “Front line” in Madrid

Beatrice Ye Zhu, born in 1996, a Chinese-Spanish, is a post-graduate candidate of Acupuncture-Moxibustion and Tuina in Zhejiang Chinese Medical University. In January 2020, after finishing one semester of studies, Ye returned to Madrid, Spain for the winter vacation. Facing the sudden outbreak of Corvid-19, Ye didn't stay away, but took up the responsibilities as a medical student, with her expertise in Nursing, decided to work in the ICU to save lives.

January 31

Today, I saw the news from TV that there are more than 10,000 confirmed cases in China and the first case in Spain is also confirmed in La Gomera. I am scared. Mum and Dad are still in China for visiting families for the Spring festival. I am so worried about them while there is nothing I can do but pray for their safe return.

February 15

Today, Mum and Dad flew back to Madrid. My sister and I drove to cars to the airport to pick them up. I know the virus is highly contagious so we took precautions. But we were the only two who wore masks in the whole terminal. Dad and Mum took one car and drove directly to home for a 14-day quarantine while sister and I took the other. All the uncertainties made the way home extremely long. The thoughts whether there is a confirmed case in the flight, whether families and friends in China are safe, whether it is safe in Madrid just can’t go away.

February 26

The situation of the pandemic is getting worse, and Spain's health system is under tremendous challenge and is facing saturation. A four-star hotel in Madrid has also been converted into a medical centre for the temporary admission of patients with corvid-19. As a graduate of nursing, I can't stand idly by. I want to do something. When I told Dad and Mum about this, they were very worried. I convinced them with my firm determination, because it is my duty to save people, and I believe that I can protect myself in this battle and save lives.

March 11

Two days ago, I received a call from Carlos III hospital in Madrid and they said they could provide me with a temporary position. I was nervous and excited. But till today I still haven’t received any further messages. Anxiously waiting, I was a little bit impatient. So I decided to call the hospital where I had interned during the summer vacation. The hospital staff thanked me for the call and arranged a position in ICU for me. I gladly accepted it because I have worked there before and I am very familiar with the situation inside.

March 14

Today the hospital sent me the work arrangement. Several medical staff formed a team. We supervise each other in protective clothing. We cannot enter the ward without getting an OK gesture from the partner. Being fully armed is both protection for ourselves and the partners. It will a lie if I am telling you that I am not nervous or afraid. But when I entered the ICU and saw the patients, the sense of responsibility immediately drove away the nervousness. I needed to get into work quickly, and there is no time for me to think about the nervousness. There are two large rooms in the intensive care unit with a total of 12 beds. There are currently 3 nurses, 2 doctors and 2 caregivers per 6 beds.

March 16

"Come on, let’s do it!" My colleagues and I started a day of work with mutual encouragement. I have three work shifts per week: 8 am to 3 pm, 3 pm to 10 pm, and 10 pm to 8 am the next day. After working for a few days I found that most patients here use sedatives and analgesics and need vasoactive drugs to maintain normal blood pressure. In addition, we found that prone posture can significantly help them breathe. However, this position change (from supine to prone position) requires 2 nurses, 2 caregivers, and 1 doctor, and the workload is extremely heavy. Many patients who are admitted to the ICU need to be intubated immediately and some patients had stopped heartbeat and breathing when they were admitted. Here I have seen too much decease and also came to known the fragility and tenacity of life. Although some patients are painful due to long-term intubation, various medications, but from their eyes, I can see the desire to live. Even if the chance of survival is even slight, my colleagues and I will never give up.

March 20

The pandemic is raging, but the supply of protective equipment has been short. I am worried. To save protective equipment, we need to wear a mask for 7 hours or even 10 hours. Even in the face of various difficulties, none of us chose to leave. We will never give up our patients. However, in the face of the rising number of confirmed cases, I am under increasing pressure. I used to be a foodie, but now I have lost all the appetite. Today, I got text messages from my classmates, "Bea, how are you today? How many times have you turned the patient?"; "Bea, do new patients need a ventilator today?"; "Bea, stay strong! I am honored to be your friend and proud of you!“ My teachers in China know that I am now working on the front line and always cheer me up, and I am very encouraged. To reduce my family's risk of infection, I now rent a room and live alone. Some friends even left food in front of my door. I feel so warm. It is good to have them. With the support of family and friends, I feel like I am full of refreshed again.


In the face of the pandemic, no one is an island and no one is a bystander. I am grateful to it that China has sent a medical team and brought a lot of medical supplies to Spain. At this moment, I feel that only with the concerted efforts of all people, without borders and nationality restrictions, can we jointly defeat the pandemic.

Author: Hits: Release time:2020-03-28