Doc reaches out via WeChat group

BEIJING: Nothing could stop Dr Jerome Liew from reaching out to his audience, not even Covid-19.

When the Kuching-born general practitioner was asked to address the concerns of Malaysians in Sichuan province about the coronavirus, he relied on social networking to get his job done.

He gave a health talk last week to a WeChat group of over 150 Malaysians, mostly based in this southwest Chinese province well known for its spicy food and giant pandas.

Malaysian Embassy officials started the group chat to better communicate with Malaysians in Sichuan.

Dr Liew, who is based at a hospital in Sichuan’s capital city of Chengdu, was approached by a member of the group to give the talk. And he was more than happy to share his knowledge.

There was a minor setback though.

Dr Liew, 35, had given countless health talks previously and he had never doubted whether his audience could follow or understand what he said.

Last week’s WeChat talk was different for him as he was unsure whether the participants could grasp his message.

During the one-hour session, he sent out over 100 voice and text messages plus dozens of materials in image forms.

“I could not see their expressions, so I did not know if they understood me or whether I was going too fast or too slow, ” he added.

Dr Liew said that face-to-face sessions would allow him to interact better with his audience but the current situation did not permit him to do so to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.

Among the popular questions posed to him during the WeChat talk were those that concerned the travel advisory to China, the incubation period of the virus, its symptoms, personal healthcare and vaccine-related matters.

“If you are overseas and you can afford not to come back yet, I would advise you to stay there as long as you can, especially those with children, ” he said, adding that travelling and staying in crowds would carry the risk of getting infected.

He also corrected the misinformation that the audience gathered from the Internet.

One common fallacy is the way to wear a surgical mask.

Dr Liew explained that the side of the mask with a darker shade – whether green, blue, pink or white – should always face out regardless of a person being ill or healthy.

The medical doctor, who spent the past 17 years in Australia, came to Chengdu six months ago.

“I came here five years ago to visit a friend and I love the city, so when I got the opportunity to work here, I grabbed it, ” he added.

He said he enjoyed the tea culture in Chengdu and socialising with the people at the parks.

And he has started learning to play mahjong, the most popular past-time of the locals.

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