Chinese Canadians concerned about the possible spread of the coronavirus have launched mutual aid groups to encourage those who have traveled to China to go through a self-imposed quarantine.
Canadian health officials have urged anyone returning from Hubei, the Chinese province in the center of the outbreak, to voluntarily quarantine for 14 days. But many have chosen the self-imposed quarantine even if they haven’t been to Hubei, the group organizers told CBC News.
“We created a WeChat group of volunteers and people who were recently in China,” Naijun Wang told CBC News in Mississauga on Saturday.
“We have hundreds of people in Ontario and other provinces. We are working together as a team trying to help [in this] difficulties.”
Wang and other volunteers are using social networks and the WeChat messaging platform to provide support, such as purchasing and delivery services, to those in quarantine.
Wang has been making deliveries in the last two weeks. So far, it has delivered supplies to seven families.
The most common items requested by quarantined people are hand sanitizers, masks and food, he said.
There is no face-to-face contact between volunteers and those in quarantine. After applications are made through WeChat, the nearest volunteer available purchases the items and delivers them to the family’s door. The volunteer then sends a photo to alert the person who made the request that the items have been delivered.
“There are still people coming, especially students, so we try to encourage more people to join the group,” Wang said.
“When everyone works together, it will be easy for us. It is teamwork. When there is a need for help, I will be there. I will be there to help people.”
Volunteer Bing Cui, who lives in Aurora, Ontario, said it was an easy decision for him to support people who need help, especially after they took the self-quarantine step.
“Maybe the whole family, they don’t have other friends or people to support [them] buy something for them, so I only volunteer to support them, “Cui told CBC News.
“These people are quarantined, they are responsible for the whole community or for the whole society. That is their activity just to reduce the risk of the whole community, so as a member of the community I just want to contribute something.”
“In addition, I want to set an example for my son to volunteer to contribute to society,” Cui added.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global health emergency for the new coronavirus that has infected more than 37,000 people and killed 811 people in mainland China, exceeding the number of deaths worldwide during the SARS pandemic 2002-2003. Coronavirus cases have also been confirmed in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, the Middle East and the USA. UU. Until Saturday, there were seven confirmed cases in Canada.
So far, only two deaths have been reported outside of mainland China, in Hong Kong and the Philippines. Both victims were Chinese citizens.
“When these problems are faced, worry or discrimination or a complaint does not help,” said Cui.
“What we need is love, or working together to help each other, to support us and I think we will finally win the battle against the virus.”
CBC News spoke with a man in self-imposed quarantine who said he is grateful to the other members of his community who have volunteered to pick up and deliver.
The man, from Toronto, did not want to be identified due to the stigma associated with the coronavirus.
“The volunteers deliver food to my door twice and now I have a lot of supplies,” he told CBC Toronto. “In addition, two of my friends who returned to Toronto also voluntarily started the quarantine and the volunteers delivered food and supplies to their department.”
“I see that many Chinese begin their self-quarantine considering the safety of the public and I am really surprised that so many Chinese strangers help people like me in the community without even charging a penny, especially [now] when the weather is not very good and windy and they have their own work, “he said.
“The Chinese community really shows help and consideration with everyone. It’s really perfect.”
Volunteers say there are hundreds in Ontario ready to help complete strangers with anything from buying groceries and running errands to delivering vehicles at the airport.
They say they will continue to deliver as long as necessary, and added that if people continue to take extra precautions to keep other people safe, they will continue to help them make that possible.