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Entrepreneur helped obtain more masks for Wuhan

By Cui Jia | China Daily | Updated: 2020-05-25 09:02
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Yan Zhi. [Photo/China Daily]

Yan Zhi, an entrepreneur from Hubei province, said he immediately realized that the novel coronavirus outbreak in the province's capital of Wuhan was getting worse after he received three phone calls on Jan 24 - Spring Festival eve - asking him if he could get hold of epidemic control supplies.

Yan, president of Zall Group, a company specializing in property and trading services for the supply chain in the wholesale market, then held a teleconference asking all branches of the group to source epidemic control supplies internationally straight away.

"I told them to purchase as many supplies as possible and transport them to Wuhan as soon as possible at all costs," Yan, also a National People's Congress deputy from Hubei province, said on the sidelines of the ongoing annual NPC session.

On Jan 26, a cargo flight carrying 3.3 million surgical masks purchased by the group departed Manila, the Philippines, and arrived in Wuhan. It was the first chartered plane carrying urgently needed epidemic control supplies that arrived the city after the COVID-19 epidemic began to spread aggressively.

The group later organized another 10 chartered planes transporting supplies to Wuhan. With Yan's help, more than 400,000 N95 masks, 300,000 protective suits and 3 million surgical masks were shipped to the city.

"As a self-made entrepreneur from Hubei, I believe it's my responsibility to help the local people get through the outbreak," Yan said. "Now I can proudly say that I've done everything I can in the fight against the epidemic."

After the central government decided to set up makeshift hospitals in Wuhan, Yan immediately turned two large exhibition centers that his company owns into such temporary facilities to solve the problem of bed shortages to ensure COVID-19 patients can receive proper treatment.

"I know people are likely to feel uncomfortable to visit those centers if such places have housed COVID-19 patients, which may affect the future businesses there, but that was the least of my concerns because nothing was more important than saving lives," he said.

What's more, Yan has designated six of his hotels to provide accommodation to medics sent from all over China to aid Wuhan. Zall Group eventually donated 189 million yuan ($26.5 million) of goods and funds to fight the outbreak.

As an NPC deputy, Yan said he will file suggestions to help small and micro businesses to get through the aftermath of the outbreak. According to Yan's research, more than 80 percent of small and micro businesses in Wuhan are having a difficult time because of the epidemic.

"Those businesses are key in providing jobs. I suggest giving micro businesses, such as small restaurants and shops in Hubei, a onetime cash subsidy from 10,000 to 50,000 yuan ($1,400 to $7,000) depending on the number of employees they hire or the size of the operating areas, so they can benefit straightaway," Yan said.

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