Volunteers help the municipality in difficult times

A photograph taken by a resident of the gated community in the city of Cannes in Shanghai, which is home to around 40,000 people, shows volunteers helping to organize nucleic acid tests during a grid-scale screening process from the city. [Provided to China Daily]

Thousands of residents lend a hand in the latest wave of COVID-19

Elsie Chao, 31, who has lived in Shanghai for six years, has a wealth of experience as a volunteer caring for the elderly and children in her hometown of Hong Kong and also in Europe.

In Shanghai, she had her first experience of volunteering in the public health sector, attending a screening program for the novel coronavirus from March 18 to 20 in the neighborhood where she lives in Pudong district.

“A lot of locals here come from different countries and regions. As I lived in Europe, I can help communicate with them, and I also took the initiative to contact neighborhood officials,” Chao said.

She helped explain the grid screening plan to local residents and expats, prepare a QR code for nucleic acid testing, and maintain order on site.

“The whole country has lent a hand to Hong Kong throughout its latest wave of COVID-19, and I would like to do my part for Shanghai, my second home,” she said.

More than 50,000 residents of the city, which has a population of nearly 25 million, have joined volunteers such as Chao since the start of this month to help in the ongoing fight against an outbreak of COVID-19.

They have responded to more than 2,000 related projects posted through official online and offline channels and held different positions.

Volunteers took residents’ temperatures and checked their health QR codes when they entered public places, helped organize nucleic acid testing in the neighborhood, and transported and delivered supplies.

Zheng Yinghao, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Civilization Bureau, said, “These residents have braved the rain and winds on the front lines in the fight against the epidemic and stood out in helping the city through this difficult time. .

“Their warm gestures were widely appreciated. The volunteers act as a ‘calling card’ showing the soft power of the city.”

Zheng said more volunteers would be needed for psychological counseling, imparting health knowledge, dispelling rumors and for foreign language translation.

Chao said the work was intensive, required patience and lasted until midnight every day, but it was worth it and she felt she could help other residents in different ways.

Due to language barriers, expats may face problems when asked to queue and undergo testing in neighborhoods. Chao said she helped explain the grid screening plan, which aims to stop the spread of infections.

From March 16-20, more than 30 million nucleic acid tests were performed on residents during a citywide grid screening process. On Monday, Shanghai began a new round of nucleic acid testing for residents.