KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31 — Malaysian aid organisation #OpsHarapan is aiming to collect a minimum of 5,000 N95 face masks for the first phase of its relief efforts for the beleaguered city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei, now quarantined due to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
The group is hoping to ship as many as 10,000 masks for the first phase and will continue sending more shipments each time it has collected another batch of 10,000 masks.
Founder Ng Yeen Seen told a press conference today that they must ship in bulk rather than on an ad hoc basis due to the logistical challenges posed by travel restrictions imposed on the province.
“We should pool together more boxes before we send. The entire logistical value chain isn’t as simple right now. (Anything less) isn’t going to be justifiable for this kind of effort to move because it will involve a lot of work.
“This starts from the boxers in your respective offices to our sponsored warehouse in Klang. From there, it will be delivered to the airport here. After the paperwork is done MAS Kargo will fly it to Pudong Airport in Shanghai, China.
“It must clear customs and there will be more paperwork before the last mile delivery to Hubei province. There will be more paperwork before the final mile delivery to the hospitals in the province. 500 masks will disappear in a minute.
“We need to pool more before we send the supplies,” she said.
However, she acknowledged that there were no set timelines for the deliveries yet.
Besides the N95 face mask, #OpsHarapan is also focusing on sending surgical gowns as these are urgently needed in the hospitals treating coronavirus victims.
Even though disposable medical examination gloves are in high demand there, Ng said that Malaysian glove manufacturer Top Glove has already played its role by sending ample supplies to assist China.
She then made an appeal to local manufacturers to prioritise selling face masks and hospital gowns to her outfit at a good price to support the relief efforts.
“We can’t send them aid if we don’t have supplies. If people continue buying masks (off the shelf) then we might not be able to buy things.
“I know people are stocking up masks for their own use. There are also those who are hoarding resources. Please stop stocking up because there are places in China where doctors and medical personnel are in dire need of such things.
“If they don’t have enough supplies, they will be exposed to the virus and might die before being able to treat others. So, helping hospitals in Hubei province is very urgent and important,” said Ng.
Other medical supplies in high demand in Wuhan include medical safety goggles splash (3M 1621AF), disposable coverall protective clothing, safety goggles, full face mask respirators and surgical caps.
She also made a call to the public requesting their monetary donation, saying that #OpsHarapan’s efforts for Wuhan goes beyond its role as an NGO but is merely a facilitator for Malaysians who want to assist the coronavirus victims in China.
On January 26, #OpsHarapan had announced on its Facebook page its intention to coordinate donation in cash and in specific medical supplies to fight the coronavirus and requested the public to connect them to medical supply manufacturers.
It announced a donation drive on January 29 disclosed the bank account details yesterday.
Members of the public interested in sending monetary donations can do so at #OpsHarapan’s CIMB Bank account numbered 8009036921.
So far, the drive has successfully collected around RM70,000.
Touching on the fact that many Malaysians are questioning how a smaller nation could aid an economic giant like China, Ng explained that even though China is a very rich country, it does not have enough medical supplies at the moment.
Furthermore, she pointed out that by helping China curb and control the coronavirus from spreading within its borders, it has a secondary effect of protecting other nations including Malaysia from being infected by the virus.
* A previous version of this story contained errors which have since been corrected.