Source: China State Council Information Office
China is working to meet surging domestic demand for medical supplies via various channels including international procurement as supply shortage hampers efforts to curb the spreading novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), an official said here Sunday.
Wang Jiangping, vice minister of industry and information technology, made the remarks at a press conference when revealing a shortage of emergency supplies in fighting the novel coronavirus outbreak.
While most needs can be met, there is still a supply-demand gap for essential materials such as masks and protective suits, he said.
A total of 220,000 medical protective suits have already been purchased from overseas suppliers and are now on their way, he said.
Hubei Province, the hardest-hit region of the novel coronavirus outbreak, reported a daily demand of 100,000 medical protective suits, while there are only 40 domestic manufacturers in China with a combined output of 30,000 suits daily.
Production for medical protective suits is only at 40 percent of capacity currently because the nation is on a week-long break for the Lunar New Year that fell on Jan. 25 this year.
Wang said China also has a daily capacity of around 50,000 suits for export. However, they are not immediately ready for the domestic market due to different production standards to follow.
Wang said besides purchasing from overseas manufacturers, Chinese authorities and enterprises are doing their best to resume production. Meanwhile, the government will use central reserves to meet the needs of the disease-hit regions.
The authorities will also work to align domestic standards with international ones so that medical products designed to meet EU or U.S. standards can be used under certain domestic situations, he said.
To increase domestic supply, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has set up a special fund of 1 billion yuan (about 140 million U.S. dollars) for medical supplies procurement, sending purchasing agents to 14 countries and regions including Indonesia and the Republic of Korea to seek suitable suppliers.
Up to 1,975 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus, including 324 in critical condition, had been reported in the country by the end of Saturday.