Since early January, the COVID-19, the official name given for the coronavirus, has been declared a public health emergency of international concern as the virus has now made a wider impact and reach than the SARS outbreak in 2003.
Within two and a half months, there have reportedly been more than 71,000 confirmed cases, with 99 percent of the cases in mainland China, and more than 1,700 deaths worldwide.
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency is working to prepare Asia’s citizens for protecting themselves. Communities where ADRA serves, have not been affected by COVID-19, but preparations are underway to help minimize the spread of the virus.
“Our office in Hong Kong will begin needs assessments once it is cleared to do so. We are working closely with the Chinese government and local authorities to adhere to the guidelines and avoid our staff from being exposed to health risks,” says Oliveira. “We have received requests for help from the Adventist Church in China and are in communication with them to meet their needs.”
Oliveira also shared that ADRA will provide training in Asia about how to reduce the risk of infection, and that preparedness plans are being developed in Africa and the South Pacific regions to combat the virus. ADRA in the Philippines has come up with a business continuity plan and is monitoring the situation, and ADRA’s Asia regional office has prepared a risk analysis for the country. “One of the biggest ways to arm oneself against health risks is through education and hygiene and sanitation practices,” he says.
ADRA is partnering with organizations, such as the Adventist Community Services, Airlink, Hong Kong Adventist Hospitals, and World Vision China, to help deliver N95 surgical respirators to hospitals and health care facilities across multiple provinces in central and eastern China, which has some of the highest rates of infections.