Residents band together to keep frontline officials supplied with masks

Li Qian
Amid severe shortages, the kind-hearted people of Shanghai are contributing needed resources for neighborhood committee members and police officers.
Li Qian

Editor's note:

With more than 20 million residents, Shanghai is finding that prevention of the new coronavirus is complicated and strenuous. Governments at all levels, volunteers and ordinary citizens in about 13,000 communities have joined in the effort. Shanghai Daily reporters visited several communities to see how people are coping in the battle to control the virus at the grassroots.

Residents band together to keep frontline officials supplied with masks
Ti Gong

Zhang Cuiying (right) gives masks to a neighborhood official in the Nanjing Road W. Subdistrict in Jing'an District.

For grassroots officials working on the frontline, masks have become the most urgently-needed resource in the fight to contain the coronavirus epidemic. But ordinary people are pitching in to ensure supplies during these difficult times.

Zhang Xueying, who lives in Jing’an District, is one of the warm-hearted residents who's been collecting masks for officials.

Zhang's normally lively neighborhood in the Nanjing Road W. Subdistrict has become quiet these days as people stay at home to prevent infection. Only officials from the neighborhood committee walk back and forth in the alleyways, registering migrant residents, visiting isolated families and sending meals to them during the 14-day observation period.

“I’m very touched but also I’m worried about their safety,” Zhang said. “They work for many consecutive hours, but they only wear ordinary masks and don’t change them all day.”

She turned to her old neighbor and close friend Zhang Cuiying, who is now living in Switzerland with her daughter, to ask whether they could send some medical supplies to relieve the shortage.

Zhang Cuiying’s daughter immediately responded: “I can buy the best medical supplies from a Swiss hospital and donate them to our frontline workers. Though I’m abroad, I hope to make some contributions to my homeland.”

The daughter managed to buy four protective outfits and 100 masks. “These are top-quality medical products from Switzerland. I send them for free to frontline workers of the subdistrict to use when patrolling. Please let me know if you have other needs,” she told Zhang Xueying via WeChat.

After receiving the masks, Zhang Xueying immediately took them to Sang Zhongping, head of the neighborhood committee. She also gave Sang 500 yuan (US$71) in cash to buy additional protective gear.

Meanwhile, in the Xinde neighborhood of the Shimen No.2 Road Subdistrict in Jing’an District, local officials wear high-quality masks imported from Japan.

“One 74-year-old resident and Party member told his family to buy the masks in Japan and donate them to us to support our frontline workers,” local officials said. “He repeatedly told us not to disclose his identity.”

Another anonymous “mask hero” has emerged in the city.

Around noon on January 28, police officers at the Wanxiang police station in the Pudong New Area received a young man.

“You work so hard these days, and I give this to you with my compliments,” the young man said, handing over two boxes of masks. When asked to give his name, the man simply shook his head and hurried away.

The same day, a father and his son went to the Hangtou police station in Pudong. They left six boxes of masks as well as the words: “Please protect yourselves.” Officers even didn’t have time to express gratitude before the pair ran off.

Residents band together to keep frontline officials supplied with masks
Ti Gong

A young man gives two boxes of masks to the Wanxiang police station in the Pudong New Area.

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