Coronavirus: Singapore Red Cross launches appeal for funds to help China; Singapore Govt contributes $1m

A worker wearing a protective face mask sweeps a street in Wuhan on Jan 25, 2020. The Singapore Red Cross is making a public appeal for funds to aid the communities in China affected by the coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Red Cross (SRC) is making a public appeal, to which the Government is contributing $1 million in seed money, for funds to aid the communities in China affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The charity said on Tuesday (Feb 4) that all donations will be used to deliver assistance and support communities in China which are affected or at risk of being affected by the virus.

As of Wednesday, about $1.6 million has been committed to the SRC, including the Government's seed funding.

Along with the seed money, the Government will also contribute medicine, medical supplies, and diagnostic test kits for the coronavirus for use in laboratories, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said on Tuesday night.

MFA said the Government is supporting efforts by SRC, Singapore trade associations and chambers, companies and local community organisations in the public appeal to raise funds.

"Singapore wishes China well in its efforts to fight the novel coronavirus," said the ministry. "The viral epidemic is a common threat to all of us. Singapore is confident that through close cooperation, China, Singapore and the rest of the international community will overcome this challenge."

Among the organisations that have contributed to the SRC's fund raising efforts include Business China.

It collected about $387,500 as of 4pm on Wednesday from its individual and corporate members to support China's fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

Thanking donors, Business China CEO Tin Pei Ling said, "Every contribution is a show of strength and solidarity, as the Singapore community supports China and the world in fighting the novel coronavirus."

OCBC Bank has also donated about $200,000 to the SRC to fund medication, medical supplies for the community, as well as diagnostic test kits.

Mr Benjamin William, secretary-general and CEO of SRC, said: "We expect the outbreak to continue to spread in China and geographically with the number of new cases rising in the next days and weeks.

"Our planned response at this point is focused on assisting the communities worst affected in China."

On Tuesday, a two-man team from SRC headed to the Asia-Pacific office of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Kuala Lumpur to discuss broad strategies and the areas of possible SRC support.

Another person will join the team in the Malaysian capital to support response efforts for the next few weeks.

SRC will also be deploying another person to Beijing to work directly with the response team there.

This will include assessing the needs of affected communities as well as strategising their response to meet these needs.

These two later deployments will last for two to three months, and are expected to happen in the coming weeks.

Mr William added: "Our response plan will be adjusted based on ongoing developments and assessments. We look forward to working with organisations to support the relief efforts."

In Singapore, SRC has also been engaging communities to promote behaviours that reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting the virus.

Volunteers are providing advice to beneficiaries, especially the elderly, to help prevent misinformation, rumours and panic.

Prevention messages are also posted on SRC's social media platforms.

The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) has lauded these efforts and will rally its members and the Singapore business community to contribute, the SBF said in a statement on Tuesday.

SBF chairman S.S. Teo said: "The business communities in China and Singapore enjoy longstanding and wide-ranging relationship that extends beyond trade. The fight against this virus is not China's alone, but the world's. We will work closely with the Singapore Red Cross to raise funds for its efforts."

Meanwhile, property giant CapitaLand has also set up a RMB10 million (S$2 million) healthcare fund to support relief efforts in China.

The first phase of the fund will be used to purchase medical supplies, protective gear and testing kits for hospitals in Wuhan. Following that, the second phase will kick in after the situation has stabilised, with the funds used to provide support for healthcare and rehabilitation efforts in China.

As part of the first phase of relief efforts, 375,000 pairs of medical gloves were delivered to the Wuhan Union Hospital of China and Tongji Hospital in Wuhan last Saturday.

The next batch of medical supplies comprising about 2,000 pieces of sputum traps and kits will be sent to the Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University.

These supplies will be directly dispatched to the hospitals.

Members of the public can make their donations to the SRC via several platforms.

Go to the Red Cross site to make donations online and the Red Cross House at 15 Penang Lane for cash donations .

For cheque donations payable to "Singapore Red Cross Society", write the donor's name, postal address and the words "Coronavirus Response 2020" on the back of the cheque.


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