Coronavirus: Singapore Red Cross to send $2.3m worth of aid to China, steps up local outreach to seniors

A medical worker in protective suit transporting an oxygen tank at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in China on Feb 16, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Red Cross is sending $2.26 million worth of aid to China as part of the first phase of relief efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak in the country, the charity said on Wednesday (Feb 19).

This comes from the more than $6 million in donations it has raised towards these efforts.

The Singapore Red Cross said that the remaining funds would be used for projects in the coming months. It will work with its partners to identify suitable projects that will benefit the most vulnerable of people affected by the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, or Covid-19, which originated in Wuhan in China's Hubei province.

The charity is also stepping up its local efforts to educate Singaporeans about the outbreak by visiting the homes of senior citizens and making phone calls to them to ease their concerns, it said in a statement.

As part of the first phase of relief efforts in China, the $2.26 million worth of aid will go to the purchase and distribution of protective equipment like surgical masks for hospital staff and other healthcare workers.

The money will also be used to buy medical equipment for three hospitals in Hubei province. It will also be used to buy and distribute hygiene items and conduct health education in seven welfare homes in Tianjin and Nanning.

These efforts in China will be handled by the Singapore Red Cross' partners the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), as well as World Vision, the charity said.

But it added that it has deployed one person to IFRC's Asia Pacific regional office in Kuala Lumpur and will send another person this week to IFRC's office in Beijing to coordinate efforts.

The two will help source, procure and deliver personal protective equipment, and monitor how the projects funded by the Singapore Red Cross are implemented.

Meanwhile, in Singapore, the Red Cross Youth is planning to talk to 200 senior citizens in the next two months to remind them about good hygiene practices.

Singapore Red Cross volunteers are visiting the homes of 94 seniors to check on their well-being, and has been making weekly instead of fortnightly phone calls to 119 seniors living alone to answer their questions about the coronavirus disease, officially named Covid-19.

The charity launched its public appeal for funds to aid those in China affected by the outbreak on Feb 4, with the Singapore Government on the same day contributing $1 million to kick-start fund-raising efforts.

Organisations such as OCBC bank and Business China have donated to the cause.

Singapore Red Cross secretary-general Benjamin William said on Wednesday that the charity is "committed to the highest standards of accountability and transparency in (its) fund disbursement and project management".

He added: "We are focused on maximising the impact of these donations, to help strengthen communities to eventually overcome the outbreak."

The public can still donate to the fund online; by mailing a cheque (payable to Singapore Red Cross Society; indicate "Coronavirus Response 2020" on the back) to Red Cross House at 15 Penang Lane; or in cash at the same address during opening hours.

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