Coronavirus in China prompts UNICEF to send country 6 tons of masks, suits

UNICEF this week sent China 6 metric tons of supplies in a bid to help the country respond to the deadly coronavirus outbreak that has killed some 213 people and sickened more than 9,000 others worldwide.

The organization in a statement said a shipment of respiratory masks and protective suits for health workers arrived in Shanghai on Wednesday. The supplies, which came from UNICEF’s global supply hub in Copenhagen, were delivered to Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.

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“This coronavirus is spreading at a breakneck speed and it is important to put all the necessary resources into halting it,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement.

“We may not know enough about the virus’s impact on children or how many may be affected – but we do know that close monitoring and prevention are key. Time is not on our side.”

The organization said it is in “close contact” with Chinese authorities and the World Health Organization and other UN agencies, to “monitor developments and needs as the situation further unfolds.

The supplies come as China is fighting to keep up with the rising number of cases in the country, which has led to a shortage of hospital beds, medical supplies, and doctors. In Huanggang, a city near Wuhan, medical staff were reportedly forced to wear raincoats and garbage bags to protect themselves from infection due to the shortage.

Wuhan Vice Mayor  Xu Honglan this week also remarked on the “inadequate” amount of face masks and other medical supplies, while Wuhan Mayor Zhou Xianwang said the task of containing and preventing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in the city remains “severe and complex,” according to Reuters.

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Also in a bid to address the soaring number of coronavirus cases in Wuhan and nearby cities, Chinese officials ordered the construction of a 1,000-bed hospital that they aim to have completed by Feb. 3. The plans, officials said, would follow a similar model to the hospital constructed in Beijing during the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, which took a week to complete and wound up treating around 700 patients.

Chinese State Construction Engineering said it sent over 100 workers to the site to get started, and officials said they would be using prefabricated structures to create the hospital, cutting the time typically associated with creating new facilities.

The CEO of EIR Healthcare, a company focused on building smart hospitals in less time and money, explained to Fox News this week how the country is building the coronavirus hospital in a week’s time.

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The number of cases confirmed in mainland China has now surpassed those that were sickened during a SARS outbreak in 2002-2003. However, the coronavirus death toll still remains lower than the 348 people in mainland China who were killed by SARS.

Fox News' Alexandria Hein contributed to this report.