Beijing COVID-19 volunteers in communities to receive compensation
Huang Yue

Gao Qiuping, 37, has been volunteering at a community in west Beijing's Shijingshan District since May, when a COVID-19 outbreak started in China's capital.

Gao is a real estate agent, but business was suspended due to virus flare-ups.

"I'm very familiar with this neighborhood because it's the area I'm in charge of. I know how busy the workers have been since the outbreak began. So, I wanted to join them and do something for the community," said Gao.

The compound, where Gao volunteers, has over 2,000 residents but only eight community workers. Even before the outbreak, the neighborhood committee could get overworked.

"Our compound is old. It was built in the 1970s and there are no elevators," said Sun Aiqin, head of the Guchengnanludong Neighborhood Committee. 

"There were about 100 people in home quarantine at the height of this outbreak. We'd walk up and down the stairs to run errands for them. We were overwhelmed, so we asked for more volunteers. Many people signed up, like restaurant workers, real estate brokers and public servants."

The volunteers did everything from checking health QR codes to delivering packages and food to residents. They said the job seems to be very trivial, but it matters a lot to maintaining effective virus control.

"Although it can get really exhausting, this is what community work is about during the pandemic," said volunteer Zhou Yang, who is also a staff member of the Civil Affairs Bureau of Beijing's Shijingshan District.

This is the third compound Zhou has volunteered at since the outbreak began.

"Some volunteers need to be in full protective gear for about five hours. Everyone has been working very hard, but as long as we can stop the transmission, it's worth the effort," Zhou added.

As some volunteers like Gao and Zhou are expect to return to their regular jobs soon, for those who succeed them, the Beijing government will offer some compensation.

Beijing has rolled out 45 measures to contain the outbreak, stabilize economic growth and ensure employment.

The city's residential communities are encouraged to expand their workforce by recruiting temporary part-time volunteers from industries that have suspended services due to the outbreak, such as catering, hospitality and tourism sectors. The volunteers will also receive subsidies as compensation.

Beijing is now experiencing a rebound COVID-19 outbreak connected to a bar. The city reported 34 confirmed locally transmitted COVID-19 cases and 31 local asymptomatic cases on Saturday, the municipal health commission said on Sunday.

It is expected that more cases related to the bar will be found, and the risk of the virus resurgence spreading is high, local authorities warned at a press conference on Saturday afternoon.

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