China coronavirus: Desperate Beijing seeks EU help as shortage of medical supplies worsens

Prime Minister Li Keqiang asks the European Union to help arrange medical supplies from member countries.

Even as crucial medical supplies are fast depleting in regions worst hit by the Wuhan Coronavirus, China has appealed to the European Union to facilitate the procurement of essential healthcare supplies. On Saturday, China's Prime Minister Li Keqiang asked the European Union to help arrange medical supplies from member countries. The move came after data showed the death from the virus spiked on Friday, hitting a record daily rise.

The coronavirus, which broke out in a meat and seafood market in Wuhan, has killed more than 250 people and infected nearly 11,000 people according to official figures. It was reported a day earlier that a man was detained after he beat up a doctor following the death of his close relative. The incident threw light into the elevated sense of fear, which is exasperated by the dwindling essential supplies like masks and medicines.

Coronavirus status as of 31 January, 2020
Coronavirus status as of 31 January, 2020 GISAID

Doctors wearing raincoats and garbage bags

The New York Times reported that in some worst-hit regions even the medical staff are working without basic body suits. The report said doctors in Huanggang, a city near Wuhan, were spotted wearing raincoats and garbage bags to protect themselves from the virus.

On Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a 'Public Health Emergency of International Concern' (PHEIC). The main reason for the declaration is not what is happening in China, but because of what is happening in other countries, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Mandatory items missing in hospitals

Even as unrest was growing in virus-hit regions, China has maintained that the shortage of medical supplies was a result of the Lunar New Year holidays. Interminably long queues and the sight of people camping to procure medical attention were seen across the country. It was also reported that the reserve of medical supplies across Chinese hospitals was not robust. Though Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has stipulated guidance in this matter, several of the mandatory items were missing in hospitals.


Meanwhile, countries around the world are enforcing stricter travel guidance. While the US enforced an ban on foreign nationals who visited China in the past two weeks, Singapore also followed suit, The health ministry of Singapore issued an order barring travellers who recently visited mainland China, out of growing concern over the spread of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

"This will enable us to limit the number of new imported cases here and reduce risk of community spread in Singapore ... The situation remains fluid, it's constantly changing, and we do not rule out taking further measures", Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said.

Related topics : Coronavirus