Doctors, nurses plead for supplies as countries work to slow spread of COVID-19

Doctors and nurses pleaded for supplies such as masks and ventilators that are critical in their battle to treat a surging number of coronavirus patients, while governments on Tuesday continued to roll out measures that have put more than one-fifth of the world’s population under some form of lockdown.

High in the Himalayan mountains, Nepal became the latest country to compel its citizens to stay at home, joining large parts of Europe, Southeast Asia and the entire West Coast of the United States. By shuttering businesses, clearing streets and keeping people away from one another, authorities hope they can slow the spread of the pandemic and keep their health care systems from becoming overwhelmed.

In Britain, which on Monday imposed its most draconian peacetime restrictions on businesses and gatherings, health workers begged for more gear, saying they felt like “cannon fodder.” In France, doctors scrounged masks from construction workers and factory floors.

“There’s a wild race to get surgical masks,” François Blanchecott, a biologist on the front lines of testing, told France Inter radio. “We’re asking mayors’ offices, industries, any enterprises that might have a store of masks.”

The race to find equipment came as the World Health Organization warned that the outbreak was accelerating and called on countries to take strong, coordinated action.

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