Chongqing, China – The Wuhan Red Cross and Hubei provincial Red Cross have come under fire after donations of crucial medical supplies from across China failed to arrive at the hospitals on the front lines of a coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 300 people.
Health workers, who are at high risk of infection without effective protection, including masks and suits, have been appealing for more supplies for days.
“The entire country has been mobilised to donate – why are doctors still not getting enough supplies?” read a reply to a doctor from Wuhan Union Hospital – one of the seven hospitals designated to treat coronavirus – who wrote on social media on Thursday that the hospital was out of supplies.
As more people scrambled to find ways to get much-needed masks and protective suits to hospitals, a report on donations and deliveries from Hubei’s Red Cross – the first since the beginning of the outbreak – showed that of two million masks donated from across China, the local Red Cross had delivered 200,000 to hospitals.
The masks had also been sent to hospitals that did not really need them.
Medical supplies donated from the coastal province of Jiangsu arrive at a hospital in Wuhan. The local Red Cross has come under fire for being slow to distribute much-needed masks and protective suits [Yuan Zheng/EPA]
Wuhan Union Hospital received just 5,000 surgical masks, while two other hospitals – Wuhan Ren’ai and Wuhan Tianyou – received 32,000. Neither Ren’ai nor Tianyou hospital treats coronavirus-infected patients, and each has one-tenth of the number of medics employed by Wuhan Union.
“Do they really understand what these supplies mean to the doctors and nurses?” Yukun Liu, a businessman from Chongqing who donated 2,000 surgical masks and 200 medical goggles to Wuhan, told Al Jazeera.
“I am honestly having a hard time trying to understand what the Red Cross was thinking – this is unforgivable.”