A Christian humanitarian organization has announced a new campaign to provide aid to Chinese families in cities that have been deemed high risk for the deadly coronavirus as the death toll rises above 1,000.
World Help, an organization serving the physical and spiritual needs of people in impoverished communities around the world, announced that it's partnering with pastors on the ground to distribute emergency relief in the provinces surrounding Wuhan.
The aid will include protective face masks and food for those living in areas where the coronavirus is spreading.
“The situation in the areas surrounding Wuhan is critical. Our partners tell us people feel helpless — they don’t know if they are going to be the next person to get infected. Worst of all, they can’t find or afford the supplies they need to protect their families and keep them healthy,” said Vernon Brewer, founder of World Help. “They’re scared. And they need our help.”
The death toll from the coronavirus — a respiratory illness with pneumonia-like symptoms — is continuing to climb, Chinese officials said on Tuesday. By the end of Monday, 1,016 people had died from the coronavirus — an increase of 108 from the previous day, the government said.
The number of confirmed infections in China also skyrocketed to at least 42,638 from about 40,000 a day earlier. Most of the infections are in Hubei.
The rapid spread of the coronavirus has resulted in police-enforced quarantines and lockdowns across the country. Increasing demand has created a shortage of protective face masks, and food supplies are running low as prices continue to rise.
According to World Help, $20 will provide a week’s worth of food and a protective mask to one person.
“Thankfully, many brave Christians and pastors are still visiting their sick neighbors and congregation members,” Brewer said. “They are ready and willing to pass out the lifesaving aid that supporters make possible so people in China can experience the love of Christ. As Christians, we have a responsibility to show the love of Christ to our neighbors in crisis — whether they live next door or around the world.”
“Please stand with these Chinese families in their darkest hour,” said Brewer.
The deadly virus is continuing to spread into other countries, with almost 500 of the 43,138 confirmed cases elsewhere. This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the 13th case in the U.S.
The World Health Organization on Monday proposed an official name for the illness caused by the coronavirus: COVID-19.
The director-general of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that under international guidelines, the WHO “had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease,” he said on Twitter.
“With 99 percent of cases in China, this remains very much an emergency for that country, but one that holds a very grave threat for the rest of the world,” Tedros said.
Chinese authorities have been accused of failing to inform the world about the severity of the coronavirus and of silencing those who appealed for donations of medical supplies on social media.
Dr. Li Wenliang, who last week died from the deadly illness, was forced on Jan. 3 by police to sign a letter saying he spread “untrue speech” for warning colleagues about the virus, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Amid the unrest, numerous reports have emerged of Christians in Wuhan distributing masks, sharing the Gospel, and offering shelter to those fleeing from Hubei province who face housing discrimination.
A video shared by Father Francis Liu from the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness showed that encouraging sermons were being broadcast to their communities through speakers placed on balconies. According to ICC, a Christian rode his bike to a pharmacy where people gathered and played a sermon through a portable speaker.
Another video circulated on social media showed Christians distributing face masks and Gospel pamphlets to passersby on the streets as a sermon plays in the background.
Earlier during the week, a Chinese pastor living Wuhan, identified only as “A Wuhan Pastor,” wrote to the international faith community, urging them to pray and revealing that fellow pastors from around the world had been reaching out.
“It is readily apparent that we are facing a test of our faith,” the pastor wrote. “The situation is so critical, yet [we are] trusting in the Lord’s promises, that His thoughts toward us are of peace, and not evil (Jeremiah. 29:11), and that He allows for a time of testing, not to destroy us, but to establish us.”
He continued, “Therefore, Christians are not only to suffer with the people of this city, but we have a responsibility to pray for those in this city who are fearful, and to bring to them the peace of Christ. … [When] disaster strikes us, it is but a form of God’s love. Spoken for today, Wuhan’s pestilence cannot separate us from the love of Christ; this love is in our Lord Jesus Christ.”