02/03/2020, 14.04
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Coronavirus outbreak: death toll rises but also the number of successfully treated patients. Chinese Red Cross caught in a storm

by Wang Zhicheng

So far, 361 people have died, more than during the SARS outbreak. Some 475 have been released from hospitals. The confirmed cases of infection number 17,238 with another 21.558 suspected. The new Fire God hospital opens tomorrow for a thousand patients. The military is supervising the distribution of basic necessities in supermarkets. Hospitals are running out medical supplies, whilst the Red Cross is sitting on full warehouses.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The official coronavirus death toll has hit 361 in mainland China, topping that from the SARS outbreak, which killed 349, this according to the World Health Organisation. At the same time, 475 people have been discharged from hospital after being successfully treated.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 17,238, whilst the number of people suspected of having the disease hit 21,558

In Wuhan, the situation is difficult. Since the city was locked down and the fear of contagion spread, many residents have been stocking up on food and basic necessities. However, the slow pace of resupply has led to supermarkets and shops running out of goods.

To cope with the problem, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has brought in 200 tonnes of goods on 50 lorries for supermarkets. About 260 soldiers are tasked with monitoring distribution to avoid price speculation and tensions.

The shortage of medical supplies is however an issue, the more so since the opening of the new hospital built in nine days. Named ‘Fire God’ and staffed with 1,400 military medical personnel, the facility will receive its first thousand patients tomorrow. It will be joined by another quarantine centre, the Thunder God Hospital, which will be completed in three days time.

Meanwhile, the local Red Cross has come under close scrutiny over its way of collecting donations and distributing them to those in need.

The government has given the Red Cross a monopoly over donations (health masks, protective suits, goggles, etc.) but whilst its warehouses the size of a football stadium are filling up, the charity has been slow in terms of book-keeping and handing out critical resources to facilities in need.

Case in point. Caixin spoke to two staff members at the Hubei Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine who report that "Our disposable headgear consumes 320 pieces per day, and the current inventory is 0; disposable foot covers consume 320 per day, and now the stock is 0; medical protective clothing consumes 300 pieces per day, and the existing inventory is 40 pieces; protective masks consume 100 pieces per day There are currently 100 stocks; 320 pairs of gloves are consumed every day, and supply will be cut off after 1 day.”

For their part, doctors, nurses and ordinary people wonder why other civil society groups and organisations have not been given any tasks with respect to donations.

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