China orders Covid-19 community helpers to follow local leadership
- New guidelines put pandemic volunteer services under the ‘unified management’ of party committees and government
- Volunteers play a crucial role in China’s battle against the coronavirus by distributing supplies and food and helping patients arrange treatment
“We must adhere to unified leadership and coordination to achieve the best results,” the guidelines state.
The guidelines also state that volunteer service organisations and volunteers involved in pandemic prevention should be “under the unified coordination and use of the community”.
As health workers rushed to Wuhan in early 2020, volunteers across the country formed groups to help untreated patients contact hospitals and government offices. Volunteers have helped arrange treatment for patients, maintain public order and distribute food and personal protective equipment.
“Previously, volunteers were recruited by different communities. It’s the community that arranges our work. Under the new guidelines, the government’s coordination can help ease the shortage of volunteers in some places,” said Chen Yuan, a Nanjing University postgraduate student who has volunteered at a community PCR testing site in Suzhou.
The guidelines also state that community workers should lead volunteers in Covid prevention work, saying that this approach is meant to reduce the pressure on community workers and clarify the responsibilities of volunteers.
According to the guidelines, grass-roots party committees and governments are required to “provide volunteers with necessary transport, meals and insurance” and “promptly investigate and deal with irregularities” such as engaging in for-profit activities under the guise of volunteering.
The guidelines state that communities should make pandemic prevention and control equipment, protective gear and safety training available to volunteers and arrange volunteers’ schedules to avoid long working hours.
“The community that I’m serving has already been doing most of these points. The guidelines are more like a summary of previous experience. I think [the guidelines’] introduction will help standardise future Covid prevention volunteer services,” Chen said.