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  • Writer's pictureKathy Chin Leong

Dr. Joseph Ng


How has the coronavirus changed Chinatown?

The people out there look like they are in a hurry. They do not look peaceful. They look like they don’t know what to do. People buy vegetables and fruit like normal, but when they are getting too close to each other, the police tell them to politely keep their distance from each other. Most people are wearing masks, even shields over their faces.

How has the coronavirus pandemic changed the nature of your practice?

When the city government announced the regulation, I closed my business because we don’t have personal protective equipment like hospitals. We worried about the patients who would come in who might have the problem (the virus). Before we closed, we did try to work for two days very hard. There were still many phone calls from people. Some had skin problems, and others had emotional problems. Some feared they had the virus. One patient is a doctor, and he called me more than ten times. He mentally had a problem thinking he had the virus, so I told him to go to urgent care. He wouldn’t go. I tried to have him take simple Chinese medicine. He is okay. I called him a week ago.

These days, I mostly talk to patients and make a diagnosis over the phone. I can listen to their voice and use my instinct. We do our herb deliveries and leave them at the door for the patients. I wear a mask, and we strictly follow the rules.

How has this coronavirus pandemic impacted your patients?

More people now have emotional problems. When they take herbs, they can physically feel better; and they have something to rely on mentally. Of course, I am not able to do acupuncture treatments. Some of our old patients have nothing to do, so they call my wife. They feel more comfortable if they have someone to talk to, and they feel they have their feet on ground. My wife is almost like a social worker.

How has this impacted you personally?

I can take a rest; and up until now, I have been exhausting my body. I am reviewing and recording what I have done in the past. When you are quiet, you can see yourself better. I call friends and relatives. I have more sleep now.

I believe that by the end of June, the number of cases will be better.

Do you think Chinatown will recover?

Chinatown will recover sooner or later. People need to survive. Look at Italy and other places. People will want to come out. I think it will take longer though. It will be okay financially. People will need to process all their suffering.

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