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University’s link to Wuhan brings experts together in fight against Covid-19

Flashback to 2015 when Professor Keith Lloyd (right), head of Swansea University Medical School travelled to China and met colleagues from Wuhan Union Hospital.

Swansea University has used its unique connection to Wuhan to bring together health experts from across Wales with some of the first medics to tackle coronavirus.

The University played a key role, alongside Swansea Bay University Health Board, in organising a video conference between representatives from Welsh health boards and senior doctors at Wuhan Union Hospital.

The Chinese hospital is home to a joint medical centre, opened two years ago following a long-standing and successful collaboration between the University and the hospital. It was set up to promote clinical and life sciences research, and build student and staff exchanges and education and professional collaborations.

Those connections led to last week’s successful conference which gave Welsh clinicians currently at the forefront of the battle against the pandemic a chance to exchange experiences and learn from staff who dealt with COVID-19 at its earliest stages.

The conference was organised by head of the Medical School, Professor Keith Lloyd and Professor Richard Evans, Executive Medical Director at Swansea Bay University Health Board, and it is now hoped it will go on to trigger further co-operation as the pandemic continues.

Professor Lloyd said: “As interest in the conference grew, we ended up with attendees representing health boards from across Wales who took the opportunity to talk to their counterparts in Wuhan.

“They were able to raise a variety of issues relating to COVID-19 and its treatment. Following the meeting the Wuhan staff sent us written answers and presentations relating to the topics raised.”

Professor Evans commented: “This was an exceptional opportunity to utilise the link between Swansea University and Wuhan Union Hospital, bringing together senior doctors and specialists from across Wales to share the learning from colleagues at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

These included issues surrounding clinical presentation of the illness, triaging patients with coronavirus and elements of critical care.

Located in the city where the outbreak originated, claiming 1,290 lives, the Wuhan hospital was at the heart of caring for some of the very first patients.

Wuhan Union Hospital was founded in 1866 by Swansea-born missionary, the Reverend Dr Griffith John. As a result, Swansea has enjoyed links with the city ever since.

Back in 2018, Professor Lloyd along with other senior staff from the Medical School travelled to Wuhan for the launch of the medical centre, helping to forge the closer collaboration which led to the video conference.

He added: “The meeting brought together 25 Welsh delegates with Chinese colleagues and was extremely valuable. The University’s unique connection to Wuhan enabled us to gain a real insight into the challenges that COVID-19 brings and we are pleased it has led to offers of ongoing support and collaboration – both during and after the pandemic."

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