Catholic charity appeals for help amid China’s medical shortage

A passenger outside the Shanghai railway station on February 2. Photo: CNS/Reuters

HONG KONG (UCAN):  As deaths continue to rise in China from the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic (Covid-19, formerly Novel coronavirus 2019), Jinde Charities, the only government-registered Catholic charity, has appealed to the universal Church for help in procuring medical supplies such as face masks, surgical masks, goggles and eye masks.

“There is a serious shortage of some medical supplies. As the flu has spread all over the country, hundreds of pieces of masks and protective clothing are consumed daily. Medical supplies are not just lacking but dangerously lacking,” a message from Jinde explained.

Started in 1997 and officially recognized in 2006, Jinde (advancing love) does the work of Caritas, carrying out the relief work of the Church in China, as Caritas International has no local partner there like it does in most other Asian countries.

In a February 2 message in Chinese titled Urgent appeal from China, Jinde said it was seeking help from the universal Church.

“So many people are desperately looking for supplies abroad. Our Catholic Church is a Church preaching love,” said the message, signed by the charity’s founder, Father John Zhang Shijiang.

“Can I order some medical items such as protective clothing and masks for front-line health care workers through the universal Church?” he asked.

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The message said the “urgent need for emergency treatment” has led many medical workers on the front line exposed to a “very dangerous environment.”

The new virus has claimed the lives of 490 people in mainland China and two elsewhere since the first case was reported in Wuhan city in December. More than 24,600 people—most in China—are infected and face the threat of developing choking pneumonia as the contagion continues to spread.

In addition to Wuhan, the outbreaks in Huanggang, Hubei, Wenzhou and Zhejiang are “also very serious. The number of confirmed and suspected cases of pneumonia is still on the rise, and the rescue of critically ill patients remains severe,” the message said.

Critically ill patients affected with the virus need nursing care and assistance. However, people assisting them need to protect themselves as the virus spreads through body fluids. 

Although China has stepped up its efforts to contain the spread of the contagion with the production of protective equipment, efforts could not meet soaring demand, the message said.

Father Zhang said the shortage of medical staff to fight the disease had also left Church members agonised. 

“The helplessness and toil that I have experienced in the past few days have made me deeply experience how limited people are. This test also awakens us to pay more attention, care and help to those who face war in the future,” he said.

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The Vatican has already sent 700,000 medical masks to China (Sunday Examiner, February 6).

Author: SundayExam