Novel coronavirus (18) "I do not know where to turn for information anymore"

14 February, 2020

From The New Humanitarian. Extracts below. Full text here:


Red tape, quarantines slow citizen aid on China’s coronavirus front lines

‘We had to assure people that we were reaching out to the hospitals directly.’

Volunteer efforts to deliver badly needed medical supplies to hospitals at the epicentre of China’s coronavirus outbreak are being slowed by government red tape and city-wide lockdowns, organisers say...

Roughly three quarters of confirmed infections are found in Wuhan, where coronavirus cases were first reported in December. In January, more than 20 Wuhan hospitals posted open letters calling for supplies on social media – an unusual step that bypassed government-designated charity channels.

There is an urgent need for supplies like masks, protective suits, and safety goggles, Chinese authorities said on 4 February. One NGO, US-based Project Hope, said hospitals in Wuhan alone are going through more than 110,000 face masks every day.

Local media have also reported examples of frontline staff working without proper supplies, including medical staff in one hospital resorting to wearing raincoats instead of protective suits...

Some roads and intersections have been blocked off by debris or manned checkpoints, residents said. Only hospital vehicles carrying the sick and government vehicles with permits are allowed to pass...

Psychological stress is another big problem as the outbreak continues, said Li Wei, a 25-year-old Wuhan resident. “The panic in Wuhan is extremely high right now, and there is a feeling of loneliness and helplessness”.

It’s made worse as online rumours circulate unchecked among residents holed up in their homes: in recent days, there have been false rumours that supermarkets would close, or that the army would move in to Wuhan.

“I do not know where to turn for information anymore,” she said.


Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: