China says it urgently needs medical masks to fight the virus

BEIJING: China said Monday that it urgently needs protection, since the death toll in the country went from a very contagious to 2002, with more than 17,000 infected.

The fear of the virus has stimulated people in the densely populated country of 1.4 billion to stock up on single-use surgical masks, while frontline medical personnel in the center of the outbreak have reported equipment shortages.

What China urgently needs today are protective suits and safety glasses, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a press conference.

At full capacity, factories in China can only produce about 20 million masks a day, according to the ministry of industry.

The Foreign Ministry said that countries like South Korea, Japan, Kazakhstan and Hungary have donated medical supplies.

Tian Yulong, of the industry ministry, said Monday morning that authorities were taking steps to bring masks from Europe, Japan and the United States, adding that supply and demand in China remained in close balance as the factories returned to production after the lunar New Year's break. .

He said they were now operating at 60 to 70 percent capacity.

In addition to Hubei, the province of more than 50 million people in the center of the outbreak, several other provinces and cities in China have made the use of masks mandatory in public as fear of viruses increases.

These include Guangdong, the most populous province in China, in addition to Jiangxi, Liaoning and the city of Nanjing, with a combined population of over 300 million.

The death toll from the coronavirus skyrocketed beyond 360 on Monday, surpassing the 349 deaths on the continent by the outbreak of SARS 2002-03, although SARS killed a higher percentage of infected people. (AFP) SCY