Brave takeaway delivery men have been delivering meals to front-line medical staff in Wuhan – the epicentre of the deadly novel coronavirus.
Food delivery platform Ele.me had previously announced a suspension of food orders in the city of 11 million in China’s central Hubei Province due to health and safety concerns.
Main rivals Meituan also stopped its service in Wuhan citing similar concerns, leaving overworked front-line medics and hospital staff no choice but to eat instant noodles and dry goods such as biscuits.
However, since 26th January Ele.me, which is owned by the Alibaba Group, resumed delivery services to key hospitals in the middle of the fight against the widespread pneumonia-like outbreak.
Some 100 businesses, including fast-food giants McDonald’s and Burger King, as well as a string of local Chinese restaurants, have signed on to the platform’s initiative, which has been dubbed the ‘health workers welfare alliance’.
Hundreds of meals are now being sent each day to facilities such as Wuhan Union Hospital of China, Zhongnan Hospital, and the city’s Sixth People’s Hospital.
As the Wuhan lockdown enters its eighth day, and as more than a dozen Chinese cities comprising 50 million people remain isolated, Ele.me’s scheme is also being used in major coastal provinces such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shandong.
Ele.me delivery man Hu Wei told local media: “I’ve not told my family. Some things are better kept secret.
“Of course I’m afraid, but front-line health workers are risking their lives, and so should we.
“If we don’t deliver meals during this health crisis, it would cause widespread panic in Wuhan.”
His colleague Shu Lei added: “There’s definitely some fear. After all, I have parents and children of my own.
“My family knows I’m taking orders, but they don’t know I’m delivering to Union Hospital.
“I didn’t tell them because I didn’t want them to worry.”
Chinese tech giants Alibaba, Tencent and Meituan are among several Chinese businesses to have pledged tens of millions of pounds towards humanitarian aid, including the purchasing of medical supplies or delivering free meals to hospital staff.
The novel coronavirus has killed 170 people in mainland China and infected more than 7,700 in the country.
The World Health Organization is to meet today (30th January) and discuss an escalation of the outbreak’s status to a global health crisis.
The ViralTab page is created by and dedicated to professional, independent freelance journalists. It is a place for us to showcase our work. When our news is sold to our media partners, we will include the link here.