In sickness and in health: Video diary of a Wuhan couple living with COVID-19

Nurse Li Ting was unfortunately infected with COVID-19 during her work. Her husband Hai Tang, a cameraman, has been taking care of her at home and documenting their daily struggle against the virus. March 9, 2020
By Wang Yiming

"Do you ever regret marrying me?" Li Ting asked her husband during a video call from their bedroom on the thirteenth day since she was infected with COVID-19. "Never," replied her husband three times in another room, "I only regret that I didn't meet you earlier in my life."

This is just one of the many touching moments from a video series titled "Our Coronavirus Diary" which documents a Wuhan couple's experiences of fighting the virus.

Li Ting, an emergency room nurse at the Central Hospital of Wuhan, became infected with the virus during her work in late January.While taking care of Li, her husband Hai Tang, a professional cameraman, recorded their daily struggles.

Li Ting, an emergency room nurse in Wuhan who fought COVID-19 on the front line, was unfortunately infected with the virus. [Screenshot courtesy of Ergeng Video]

"I was prepared for it since her hospital is at the epicenter of the outbreak, but I didn't think it would happen so suddenly. Since it has happened though, we have to face it with a positive attitude," explained Hai Tang in the first episode, posted on Jan. 31.

When Li Ting's CT scan showed coronavirus for the first time, her symptoms were mild and she only had a light fever. In order to not exacerbate the strain on medical resources and to prevent cross-infection at the hospital, they decided to take medicine and self-isolate at home.

"I'm making this video because I want to document our fight against the virus and to encourage my wife not to be worried. Also, I hope it can give support to others who have unfortunately been infected. We can face it together," said Hai Tang. "I'm a cameraman, so I want to do what I can to help her."

As the episodes show, after sending their son to stay with his grandmother, Li Ting rests in bed while Hai Tang does the everyday chores: cooking her favorite meals, disinfecting the apartment, and checking on her physical and mental health.

Since they live under the same roof, the couple isolated themselves in separate rooms and communicated via video chat to prevent Hai Tang from also becoming infected. As a nurse, Li Ting understands the high risk of spreading the virus, so she insisted on her husband keeping his distance, teaching him how to put on the protective suit and disinfect himself.

Screenshot from the video series "Our Coronavirus Diary" shows Li Ting teaching her husband how to correctly disinfect himself. [Courtesy of Ergeng Video]

During her self-quarantining time, Li suffered from a cough, fever, body aches, as well as fatigue. Her physical pain, anxiety and fear all tangled up, left her feeling irritable. Most of the time, Hai Tang appears calm and collected, gently comforting his wife and trying to cheer her up.

Screenshot from the video series "Our Coronavirus Diary" shows Hai Tang as he records his wife's health status during home quarantine via video call in separate rooms. [Courtesy of Ergeng Video]

"I'm more optimistic and rational, but it doesn't mean that I never thought about how bad things could be. I just focused on what we could do. I remember one day she had a fever of 39°C and was crying," Hai Tang recalled. "At the time, I felt that even words of comfort were powerless. I wanted to hug her, but she hid under the bed covers and asked me to move out. She was afraid that I'd get infected too."

Screenshot from the video series "Our Coronavirus Diary" shows nurse Li Ting who was infected with COVID-19 in home-quarantine as she worries about passing on the virus to her husband. [Courtesy of Ergeng Video]

"I took her to the hospital that day. Fortunately, the test results showed there was nothing seriously wrong and her fever also subsided. Over the following days, she started to look much better."

On day seven of Li's infection, Hai Tang secretly prepared a bunch of flowers and a cake. He neatly lay them out on a table in front of the door, and stood back. His wife was pleasantly surprised to see her favorite flowers and suddenly realized that it was their fourth wedding anniversary.

"I don't know how he managed to get hold of them in a city under lockdown when most the shops are closed. I almost started crying. I want to hug him, but I can't do it now," wrote Li Ting on her Weibo microblog.

Cameraman Hai Tang managed to buy flowers and cake in Wuhan for his wife who is infected with COVID-19 to celebrate their wedding anniversary. [Photo courtesy of Li Ting]

Li also received a red envelope containing a letter written by Hai Tang, which read: "After the coronavirus is over, using this note, you can ask me to take you anywhere you want in the world." While jokingly complaining that there was no money inside the envelope, she carefully pocketed it and smiled sweetly.

Screenshot from the video series "Our Coronavirus Diary" shows how the couple had to keep their distance to prevent spreading the virus. [Courtesy of Ergeng Video]

To the couple's surprise, their video diary gained a lot of attention. Comments flooded in on Weibo with encouraging words and some people even provided Chinese medicine prescriptions to help them out. The episodes have also been posted on the YouTube account "Ergeng TV" with subtitles in four languages, where the series has garnered several hundred thousand views. Global audiences have been touched by their story, leaving heartwarming comments praising the caring and dependable husband and praying for Li Ting.

"I never expected that so many people would care about us. I'm really touched. My wife also cheered up a little after I showed her the encouraging comments from people online," Hai Tang told

"Later, I also noticed that some people were sending messages to ask about how to take care of infected family members, especially those quarantined at home. I could empathize with what they are going through. It made me more determined to keep recording our life because the videos not only help raise my wife's spirits but also provide hope and guidance for others."

It seemed that Li Ting's condition was improving. But the results of another CT scan on the thirteenth day of her infection showed she had taken a bad turn, and so she was hospitalized.

Despite being worried about Li's condition, Hai Tang still encouraged his wife to stay positive. During her hospital treatment, Li Ting often shares videos on Weibo of her daily life battling the virus and expresses gratitude to her colleagues who are treating her, those still working hard on the frontline, and those who care about her, especially her husband.

Nucleic acid tests require a swab from the nose and throat. As an ER nurse, Li Ting is fully aware of the high risk of spreading the virus during collection, so she opts to conduct the uncomfortable procedure herself. [Photo courtesy of Li Ting]

"What doesn't beat me only makes me stronger.We're not alone. We have loved ones, family and friends looking after us. It's their support that gives me the strength to fight the virus," she said.

Screenshot from the video series "Our Coronavirus Diary" shows Li Ting giving advice on how to cooperate with doctors during the nucleic acid test. [Courtesy of Ergeng Video]

"I'm not good at expressing my feelings and I often lose my temper with my husband. But, I do appreciate the good things he does for me. This infection is a horrible experience, but it has helped me learn how to express my affection towards him."

Li Ting's condition has been stable for several days now, and the most recent nucleic acid test results came back negative, according to a Weibo post on Mar. 5. She will finally be discharged from hospital after conducting antibody tests.

Speaking about what he wants to do after his wife has fully recovered and the epidemic is over, Hai Tang told, "I'll pick my son up right away and fulfill the promise I made to my wife on our wedding anniversary to take her anywhere she wants."

Li Ting said, "I want to take off my mask, share a cup of milk tea with my husband, watch a good movie together. And then, tell him honestly how much I love him."

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