Hospitals in China's virus epicentre of Wuhan launch public appeals for supplies

A photo taken on Jan 22, 2020, shows medical staff members wearing protective suits at the Zhongnan hospital in Wuhan, China. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Hospitals in Wuhan, the central Chinese city at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak, are calling on public support for protective supplies such as masks and suits, as supplies run low and the number of cases grows daily.

The death toll from the new flu-like virus has risen to 26 and more than 800 cases have been confirmed as of Thursday (Jan 23), according to China's National Health Commission.

Most of the cases were found in Wuhan city, where the virus is believed to have originated in a market which traded in illegal wildlife.

With the number of confirmed cases rising by the hundreds every day, medical supplies in the city are in short supply as people flood into hospitals waiting to be treated.

At least eight hospitals in Wuhan have issued public appeals for donations of goggles, masks, medical caps and protective suits for medical workers.

Alumni networks of universities in Wuhan have also posted notes on social media calling for public support.

Travel in and out of the city of 11 million people has been tightly controlled since Wednesday to keep the virus from spreading.

The closure of manufacturers, suppliers and distributors of medical gear over the week-long Chinese New Year holiday starting this week is exacerbating the shortages.

Chinese media report that some hospitals have supplies for only three to four days and are running low on testing kits.

Wuhan city has sought more financial support from the central government.

"If we had any other option, we'd just wait for government support (rather than issue public appeals)," said a doctor at a hospital in Wuhan, requesting anonymity.

Chinese e-commerce company said in a statement that it would donate one million masks and about 60,000 medical supplies to Wuhan.

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