Doctors in China are unable to adequately supply themselves with, so far, one of the best ways to prevent transmission of the coronavirus: face masks. Nurses, doctors and other medical professionals fighting the new coronavirus have also been fighting dire shortages.
While proper handwashing techniques are essential in helping slow the spread of this, and many other infections, face masks that fit tightly to the face and even goggles to protect the eyes are in short supply. In fact, according to a report by MSN, some doctors have used tape to patch up battered protective masks, repeatedly reused goggles meant for one-time use, and wrapped their shoes in plastic bags for lack of specialized coverings.
Other employees at hospitals near Wuhan said a lack of protective wear had left medical workers like her vulnerable, in the central Chinese city at the heart of the epidemic that has engulfed this region. “There are risks — there simply aren’t enough resources,” Yu Yajie, an administrator at Wuhan Central Hospital, said in a brief telephone interview, adding that she was too weak to speak at length. Yu fears she may have contracted the virus due to a lack of protective gear.
After the virus emerged in Wuhan late last year, city leaders played down its risks, along with assistance from the Communist Party and the mainstream media. So doctors didn’t take precautions. When the outbreak could no longer be ignored, officials imposed a lockdown on Wuhan that expanded across the surrounding Hubei Province and then swaths of China. The vast travel cordons may have slowed the epidemic, but have also slowed deliveries into Hubei, leaving medical workers short of protective wear.
Doctors and other hospital workers have also come under pressure not to speak out about the conditions and extent of this outbreak. But many do, out of desperation. “For the first time, I felt helpless confronting the system,” Chang Le, a doctor at Hankou Hospital in Wuhan, said in an online message pleading for more medical masks. His plea was deleted by the censors. “It’s only today that I’ve grasped just how hard it is for us front line medical workers.”
Pervasive road checks and travel restrictions have held up shipments. Factories have faced difficulty increasing production because workers and raw materials have been blocked by lockdowns. Local governments have hoarded supplies. China’s state-controlled Red Cross has dominated the distribution of donations, creating a bottleneck that infuriated hospital employees. –MSN