The Chinese communities across Canada have spontaneously taken precautious measures to help prevent a potential spread of Coronavirus in the country: people coming back from China (not only from Wuhan City or Hubei Province, the epidemic centre in China) conduct 2-week self-quarantines even nobody asks them to do so, and hundreds of volunteers help with airport pick-ups and daily supply deliveries to support the self-quarantine effort. The letters below, which were written by a member of our club, show why and how the Chinese community is doing this, together with their concerns, and problems they wish the government could act to solve.
Some of the media coverage:
Letter One: An earlier version was sent to the organizer’s members on January 31, and the final version was sent out on Feb. 8 to a much broader body of the Chinese community in Ontario, as well as to CTV. On Feb. 10 CTV interviewed one of the volunteers and reported the story as listed above.
Please Join Us: A Letter from Chinese Canadian Volunteers Fighting Coronavirus
February 8, 2020
Dear Fellow Canadians,
In the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak in China, which was declared an international public health emergency by the World Health Organization on January 30, 2020, the Chinese community is bearing mounting pressures. We are worrying about the virus along with discrimination against people with Asian heritage. All of us would like to do our best to contain a potential spread of the virus. With your assistance, we can also prevent the rise of discrimination from occurring.
We hereby call upon you to:
- Conduct a 2-week self-quarantine, if you have come back or will come back from China recently or if you have had a close contact with a person who has just returned from China in the past two weeks. If you develop symptoms, please call medical authorities for instructions. However, do not feel fearful or ashamed. You have done nothing wrong, and we appreciate your courage, consideration and sacrifice to protect the whole community. We will volunteer to arrange for safe airport pick-up for you and will deliver life necessities, like groceries and personal supplies to your door if needed. If you experience other difficulties caused by the quarantine, feel free to let us know. We will outreach to you with resources and help. Our medical and public health professional volunteers will gladly answer your questions regarding self-protective measures and government policies. Please do not hesitate to contact us to seek assistance. We are here for you!
- Join us as a volunteer, or organize a similar group in your own neighbourhood, if you are a member of the Chinese community and if you are available. Please give a hand to help and contribute for a safe, peaceful Canada. We will provide training and guidelines to ensure safety, transparency and integrity throughout the process.
- Support your employee(s) who are in quarantine if you are an employer by making alternative work arrangements to help them reduce losses as much as possible.
- Use available technologies to help all students in quarantine and provide online education or live video classrooms if possible. Kindly, do not count the quarantine as an absence.
- Stand side by side with us, regardless if you are a friend, a neighbour, a colleague, a client or even a stranger to the Chinese community. These days, the kind actions and friendly smiles that many of you have extended, have comforted us, and we are grateful for that. We are proud of Canada for her diversity, tolerance and wisdom! We feel even more obliged to do our best to protect this magnificent country. Let’s fight together for our share home against Coronavirus, and any future challenges or disasters.
Please do not panic. Panic does not ease anybody’s mind nor the situation. We need proper measures tied together with love and support for one another. If you need assistance, or would like to join our effort in any possible way, please contact us.
We look forward to hearing from you. Thank you very much!
Chinese Canadian Volunteers Fighting Coronavirus
Letter Two: The letter was to support university scholars’ research proposal to the Canadian Institute of Health Research.
Letter of Support
February 17, 2020
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to encourage you to support the project proposed by Dr. Wang’s team that could help the Chinese community in the GTA to cope with a potential spread of COVID-19 in a better way.
I am the organizer of the East and West Learning Club, a non-profit grass-root cultural group based in Scarborough, Ontario, that helps Chinese immigrants learn about Canadian culture, people and social norms in depth through learning and engaging activities. Since January 31, right after the WHO declared the Coronavirus outbreak in China an international health emergency, I have been working closely with a few Chinese community organizations in the GTA to coordinate airport pick-ups and grocery deliveries by volunteers to support people who have choosen to conduct a 2-week self-quarantine after they have come back from China recently.
For the self-quarantine support work, what we do is to send out messages to the Chinese community inviting people in self-quarantine to use our free delivery service if they can not find families or friends to do so, as well as inviting volunteers to join our effort to help with the self-quarantine. We set up WeChat groups, a popular mobile app among the Chinese, so people can exchange information instantly. Our medical and public health professional volunteers answer questions on protection measures and policies. We provide safety guidelines to both assistance-seekers and volunteers. The key is to avoid face-to-face contact between volunteers and the people they help. For example, when a volunteer delivers groceries, he or she receives a list of items to buy on the WeChat platform or by text message; at delivery, he or she puts the bags outside the door where the quarantined person lives, and notify the person by phone so the groceries can be picked up right after he or she leaves. Payment is usually made by e-transfer, PayPal, or through the WeChat platform. In the whole process there is no face-to-face contact at all to protect the safety of volunteers.
Some challenges we have are:
- All of us are volunteers, who have other job/family duties . The coordination work has been very much time and energy consuming. I am afraid that over time the organizers/coordinators may not sustain.
- I know there are several similar self-quarantine support groups across the GTA. I believe It would be more effective if different groups could collaborate with one another, and share the information or resources like properly-equipped taxi services for airport pick-ups, available self-isolation rooms, and etc.
- We need to have our voice heard by the governments. They need to take actions to solve problems that are beyond the ability of individual volunteers to support the people in quarantine. Especially, how to find an isolation room for some people who share rental rooms with others is a big problem. Some of them have been denied of access to their homes by the landlords after their arrival here. Also, a student in quarantine needs technology support from their schools so they can continue with their study through online education. Without supporting policies and resources from the government, it can not come true.
- Now and then we face a fine line between promoting self-quarantine for people coming from China recently in a hope to cut off potential spread of COVID-19 in Canada, and avoiding to trigger any panic or discriminations.
Therefore, I really hope Dr. Wang’s team can proceed with their proposed project. Their research should be valuable to help us define that fine line with their psychological impact analysis. Their proposed mutual support quarantine network should be able to work more efficiently and more powerfully to serve its purpose.
If you have questions for me, please let me know. I’d be happy to assist you in any ways.
Thanks and Best Regards,
Chinese version of Letter One: