Press conference on strengthening science-based epidemic prevention and control, orderly resumption of work and production

A press conference was held Tuesday morning to explain issues on strengthening science-based prevention and control of the COVID-19 (also known as novel coronavirus pneumonia) and orderly resumption of work and production. February 12, 2020

Tokyo Broadcasting System Inc.:

The Beijing government has decided to promote work at home by February 9. How do you think this decision was effective?

He Qinghua:

The CPC Central Committee and the State Council have paid great attention to the epidemic since its outbreak. Always putting the safety and health of the people as the top priority, they have taken aslew of measures to control sources of infection, cutting off the virus transmission routes and protect vulnerable people. The measures, including extending the Spring Festival holiday, staggering return trips and strengthening the management and control of the movement of people in key areas, have played an effective and important role in reducing the infection rate and curbing the spread of the epidemic.Outside of Hubei province, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the rest of the country increased by 381 on February 10 and this daily increase in numbers has continued to decline since February 3.This proves that the measures we have adopted such as the extension of the Spring Festival holiday, are both reasonable and effective. Next, we will continue to launch targeted efforts to prevent and control the epidemic in line with the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. Thank you.

Hong Kong Economic Herald:

We have noticed that the National Development and Reform Commission has organized some enterprises that manufacture daily necessities to resume work and production ahead of schedule so that these products would reach the market in time. What is the current state of the resumption of production? In addition, some enterprises worry about overcapacity in the future. How will you deal with the excess products after the epidemic ends? Thank you.

Ou Xiaoli:

The resumption of production of some key daily necessities and protective medical supplies has triggered huge public concern. On that part, Mr. Cong has just briefed us on the overall progress, and I will not repeat his answer here. At present, the supply of daily necessities is not a big problem. On the contrary, as more enterprises resume work and production, the demand for anti-epidemic supplies has risen sharply, especially for face masks which are still in huge shortage. Next, to ease the demand-supply tension, we will step up our efforts in the following aspects:

First, and most importantly, we must do everything possible to promote and increase production. To do this, we should resume, optimize, and expand our production capacity. Mr. Cong has just said that the country has resumed 76 percent of its total mask production capacity, that is to say, a quarter of mask producers in China have yet to resume work. Therefore, we should coordinate and help resolve the problems that are preventing their resumption of production such as the shortage of labor, raw materials and funds. Doing so will help them return to work as soon as possible. For enterprises that haven't reached their full production capacities, we should help them release their full potential and produce based on their full capacity sooner rather than later. Enterprises are also encouraged to operate 24 hours a day, with employees taking double shifts or even three shifts to maximize their production capacity. We will also support enterprises in need of expanding production by providing investment funds from the central government's budget, enabling them to reach their full production as soon as possible. What's more, we will support qualified enterprises and accelerate their license applications, push forward technological upgrading, switch production lines and begin production as soon as possible.

Ou Xiaoli:

Second, we will make every effort to expand the import of medical supplies. We need to coordinate with both domestic and international markets, encourage companies to expand international procurement and support them with air charter services to deliver the masks to China. We will also coordinate with the relevant institutions to make sure that the transfer of donations from foreign authorities and international organizations is well-organized.

Third, we will make every effort to ensure the safe operation of key businesses, including railways, highways, civil aviation, shopping malls, supermarkets and some service industries linked to people's livelihoods. Most of these businesses involve human-contact-based services and are located along busy pedestrian areas. As such, they may bring the risks of cross-infection between different groups of people should employees of these key businesses become infected. Thus, extra support will be provided to these businesses accordingly.

Fourth, we will make every effort to reduce waste. Currently, there is a lack of a proper, scientific and efficient use of medical masks. The National Health Commission and other relevant departments have been urging a scientific and proper use of masks. They have been calling for a demand-based and function-oriented use of medical masks so as to avoid unnecessary waste.

Ou Xiaoli:

I would like to say a few more words about medical masks as they have attracted nationwide attention. The demand for masks and other medical supplies has surged with the outbreak of the COVID-19. To be honest, not a single country is capable of meeting the immense surge in demand. Considering the current production capacity globally, there is still a big shortage of supply. Thus, in addition to expanding production and increasing supply, we should also pay attention to the demand side, and improve the efficiency of using masks. Of course, we are glad to see that some institutions have been researching this topic, and we hope to see more efforts from the media to delve into their research results, and make them accessible to the public.

It is normal for people to get worried if something becomes scarce, and this often leads to unnecessary hoarding.Some of you may recall the hoarding of salt during the SARS outbreak, which turned out to be a joke as time went by. This may also be the case for masks now. It is the hoarding of masks that intensifies the conflict between demand and supply. As production resumes, more and more masks will be produced gradually, and I believe the shortage of supply will be alleviated. Thus, we appeal to everyone not to hoard masks, and because masks have a finite shelf life, they will be useless and wasted once they expire. For people with a hoard of masks, I suggest that you share those masks with your relatives and friends, and let them feel your concern for them. Thank you.

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