More than 600 people have died from a new coronavirus strain since its outbreak in China began late last year.
But as the number of infections increases, information on conditions in China is limited.
Initially, the country’s newspapers were able to report the epidemic in detail.
However, in recent days, Internet platforms have eliminated several articles criticizing government efforts to contain the virus.
Authorities also tried to crack down on warnings shared by a doctor when the coronavirus started to spread.
In a rare case, the BBC spoke to a healthcare professional in Hubei, the province of the epicenter of the epidemic.
To protect her identity, she asked to be referred by her surname, Yao.
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Yao is based in a hospital in the second largest city of Hubei, Xiangyang. He works on what he calls a “fever clinic,” where he analyzes blood samples taken to diagnose anyone suspected of having coronavirus.
Before the outbreak, Yao had planned to travel to Guangzhou to spend the Chinese New Year with his family.
Her son and mother traveled in front of her, but when the epidemic broke out, Yao decided to volunteer in Xiangyang.
“It’s true that we all live a life, but there was a strong voice inside me that said ‘you have to go’,” he told the BBC.
At first he had to overcome his doubts about the decision.
“We must also treat patients with care, because many people came to us with great fear, some of them were on the verge of a nervous breakdown.”
To cope with the large number of admitted patients, hospital staff work in 10-hour shifts. Yao said that during these shifts nobody can eat, drink, take a break or use the bathroom.
“At the end of the shift, when we take off our overalls, we will find that our clothes are completely wet with sweat,” said Yao. “Our forehead, nose, neck and face are marked by narrow masks and sometimes even by cuts.
“Many of my colleagues simply sleep on chairs after shifts because they are too tired to walk,” he added.