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Frenchman returns to help beat the virus

Shanghai Daily 徽标 Shanghai Daily 2020/2/22 Li Qian,Ma Xuefeng,Zhong Youyang
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Representing his company on Friday afternoon, Antoine Gouin (right) donated 2,000 medical masks and 100 bottles of hand sanitizer to the Caojiadu Subdistrict of Jing’an District.  © Ma Xuefeng / SHINE Representing his company on Friday afternoon, Antoine Gouin (right) donated 2,000 medical masks and 100 bottles of hand sanitizer to the Caojiadu Subdistrict of Jing’an District. 

Frenchman Antoine Gouin didn’t hesitate to take the last flight to Shanghai, a city he calls his second home, as he was eager to help after he heard of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“We need to fight together, whether you are foreigner or Chinese, small business or big business. We should stand united to defeat the virus,” Gouin, CEO of Auditoire Asia, said.

Representing his company, Gouin donated 2,000 medical masks and 100 bottles of hand sanitizer to the Caojiadu Subdistrict of Jing’an District on Friday afternoon. It was to be distributed to frontline workers in local neighborhoods.

In Caojiadu, residents, companies and social groups have banded together to keep frontline officials supplied with protective gear. So far, they have sent 66 buckets of disinfectant and nearly 3,600 masks to the subdistrict, according to officials.

The China office of experiential marketing agency Auditoire, which is also the group’s Asia-Pacific regional headquarters, is in a creative park in Caojiadu. It has taken part in a range of events in China, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2010 Shanghai Expo and 2019 China International Import Expo.

“Basically, we do business in organizing events. We have a stock in our company of safety materials that we use normally during the events. As there won’t be events for some time, we have decided to donate part of our stock to the local community,” Gouin said. “I think the most important thing right now is that we need to fight together. And this is what we are doing today, to support our community.”

He said the company will continue to share safety supplies as much as they can. The company is also providing face masks for employees as they return to work. 

The company resumed work on February 10, with just 15 percent of staff being asked to work in the office.

“We partly reopened our office. Today, most of our employees are still working at home,” Gouin said.

At the office, the company has implemented strict prevention measures, including routine disinfection and taking temperatures.

“We follow the strict isolation policy. If our staff come back to Shanghai, they are asked to stay at home for 14 days. Also, everybody is required to wear masks at every moment, and we try to minimize gatherings at the office,” he said.

Shanghai, for Gouin, is his city. He has been living here since 2006, and his two children were born here.

“I love Shanghai so much,” he said, with Jing’an his favorite place.

“For me, Jing’an is the true Shanghai,” he said. “Jing’an has a unique character in Shanghai. It is a very lively place, and local people and communities are extremely welcoming. It shows strong support to international businesses as well.”

During this year’s Spring Festival, Gouin was in France with his family. But when he heard about the outbreak, it was in his mind that he had to return to Shanghai.

“I should be here with our people and together face the crisis. I should support the fight and lead our team to implement all theses prevention measures,” he said.

Taking the last Air France flight to Shanghai, he arrived on January 31. Like most people, he stayed at home a lot and tried not to go out, except for buying groceries.

“Of course, everyone’s life is being affected by this virus, but I don’t really care,” he said. “First and most importantly, we need to defeat it.”

Gouin said the company fully supported the government’s decision to extend the holiday. He remains positive about China’s economic prospects after the epidemic, and he is confident about the company’s development in Shanghai.

He expressed his gratitude for the subdistrict’s efforts in helping foreigners understand prevention and control of the virus.

Caojiadu, home to more than 6,000 foreigners, has developed a bilingual service platform on its WeChat account where foreign residents can handle business related to the prevention of virus by themselves, from making online appointments to buying masks and filling in personal information after their return to Shanghai.

Tang Lingfeng (right), Party secretary of Caojiadu Subdistrict distributes masks and hand sanitizer by Auditoire to frontline workers in local neighborhoods. © Ma Xuefeng / SHINE Tang Lingfeng (right), Party secretary of Caojiadu Subdistrict distributes masks and hand sanitizer by Auditoire to frontline workers in local neighborhoods.

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