Flow of masks links united global fight against COVID-19
By Zhao Hong
After over three months' fight against the novel coronavirus, China has revived output of medical supplies, and entered a more stable and balance supply and demand. It is taking responsibilities to donate and export medical supplies to meet rising global demand.
China has been the world's largest manufacturer and exporter of masks, with half of the world production.
In 2019, the number of masks produced in China exceeded five billion, and the daily capacity was over 20 million, including 2.2 million of surgical masks and 600,000 medical N95 masks. China's Ministry of Commerce said around 70 percent of the production was exported every year.
China's daily capacity of mask production remains 20 million, but when the novel coronavirus outbreak started early January, it was near the Chinese traditional Spring Festival when factories entered a pause.
In the beginning of the outbreak, people's demand for masks surged while the stock was low. Masks became a sought-after in the market. In addition, the Chinese government also needed to guarantee essential medical supplies were provided to the medical facilities in priority.
The Chinese government was devoted to restore and expand capacity of medical masks and regular masks to fulfill the need of medical staff in the frontline, and the general protection of the public.
A series of policies were launched to provide support for ensuring the supply of key medical supplies. For example, the government promised to take overproduction as reserve items.
Nationwide, capable enterprises resumed and expanded production.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said on Monday 60-70 percent of factories that make the essential medical goods have resumed production after the Spring Festival break.
China's National Medical Products Administration, which supervise and regulate registration of medical devices in China, simplified and expedited approval process for manufacturers to produce mask and protective clothing.
As of Sunday, the authority has given out 1,606 registrations certificates of medical masks. Seen from the regional distribution, Hunan Province has 297, followed by Henan (206) and Zhejiang (113) Provinces.
Apart from medical companies with masks production lines, some enterprises in other fields also joined the army, including Sinopec, PetroChina, BYD Company and Gree Electric. Sinopec invested 200 million yuan (28.2 million U.S. dollars) to build 10 meltblown cloth production lines, a critical material for mask production.
The country continues to see increased production and supplies, along with the eased outbreak. The public used to need to make online reservations and draw for masks but now they have easy access to medical masks and N95s at online stores and in pharmacies.
During the first two months of the outbreak, China received donations from about 80 countries and 10 international organizations, including masks and other medical supplies.
Now as more cases emerged outside of China, far exceeded the number in China, China has become a supporting force in the battle in sharing experience and lessons and also exporting and donating medical devices to other countries.
From March 1 to Saturday, China has exported medical supplies worth of 10.2 billion yuan, including 3.86 billion masks, 37.52 million protective clothes, and infrared thermometers 2.41 million, and ventilators 16,000 2.84 testing agents, and 8.41 million goggles.
As more companies were exporting medical products overseas, China has made regulations on the export. It clarified that starting from Wednesday, with medical supply exports, companies must provide a statement to promise that they have got registration certificates for these medical supplies and their products meet quality standards set by export destinations.