China badly needs masks

February 03, 2020

BEIJING — China said Monday it “urgently needs” protective medical equipment as the death toll in the country from a highly contagious coronavirus passed that of the 2002 SARS crisis, with more than 17,000 infected.

Fears of the virus have spurred people in the densely-populated country of 1.4 billion to stock up on single-use surgical masks, while frontline medical personnel at the centre of the outbreak have reported equipment shortages.

“What China urgently needs at present are medical masks, protective suits, and safety goggles,” the foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a press briefing.

At full capacity, China’s factories are only able to produce around 20 million masks a day, according to the ministry of industry.

The foreign ministry said countries including South Korea, Japan, Kazakhstan and Hungary have donated medical supplies.                           AFP