Health

The team of volunteers and drivers that kept Wuhan afloat

By Jesus Centeno

Wuhan, China, Apr 3 (efe-epa).- Volunteers, drivers and delivery people make up an anonymous collective that has kept the city of 11 million afloat during over two months of quarantine.

When authorities on 23 January banned residents from leaving the city and enforced a strict quarantine to contain the coronavirus outbreak, several volunteer organizations rallied to distribute medical supplies, take patients to hospitals and bring food to people.

During the darkest period, volunteers took food to communities up to 5 times a day, free of charge.

“As soon as the epidemic broke out, the student association at my university created a team of volunteers to transfer doctors and nurses and deliver food to neighbouring communities,” Wang Xin Yi, a law student at Huazhong University tells Efe.

When the city later launched a strict quarantine, the local government reorganized volunteers into 11 sections, including medical services, security, assistance, psychological help, propaganda, transportation and administration.

“I applied to participate in the assistance program to help people in need in my community. There are 192 volunteers in my sub-district, six of them in my residential complex. My job every day was to distribute rice, oil, noodles and vegetables to those who needed them the most,” says Xin Yi.

He was also in charge of taking the temperatures of his neighbours, meeting their requests and keeping them company.

If someone needed to go shopping, he would go with them as ordinary citizens were not authorized to enter supermarkets.

The hardest part of the job was the misunderstandings that would arise

“There were people who asked me how much they had to pay me, others complained the food they received was not as good as someone else in the community,” he says.

“Although we wore protective suits, sometimes people would recoil, they would avoid us and that was very uncomfortable,” he recalls.

But “those feelings vanished when someone told us they appreciated our effort.”

When grassroots organizations needed supplies from other provinces, drivers travelled long distances and trains were used.

Once the goods reached Wuhan they were distributed by both volunteers and delivery people.

“I have been working in this sector since last year and I have worked through the epidemic,” says a delivery man on the streets of Wuhan

“The work has been very hard. Now there are fewer orders compared to a month ago when I worked all day, there was no time to rest.”

During the quarantine though, delivery people made more money due to the spike in orders, the worker adds.

But perhaps the most notable group are the ones sporting red armbands in charge of monitoring who enters and leaves each building.

“I am a member of the CCP!” one of them proudly says at the entrance of a residential complex.

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