SCIO briefing on efforts to coordinate COVID-19 control with economic, social development

The State Council Information Office held a press conference on Monday morning in Beijing to introduce the efforts being made by various government departments to coordinate the prevention and control of the COVID-19 epidemic with continued economic and social development. February 25, 2020


Premier Li Keqiang recently required related enterprises to race against the clock and work hard to expand production capacity while inspecting the production of face masks in Beijing. During his visit, the premier expressed his wish that the daily production capacity of masks nationwide should exceed 100 million at an early date. What measures will you take to constantly expand production capacity and ensure supply? How is the resumption of production going with producers of key medical supplies? Thank you.

Tian Yulong:

Thank you for your question. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, both the Party Central Committee and the State Council have placed great importance on the provision of medical supplies. General Secretary Xi Jinping has given important instructions on various occasions. As the leading unit of the medical supplies group of the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has worked with other member units to adopt various measures and hold mobilization meetings to prioritize and accelerate the resumption of the production of medical supplies. We have mobilized enterprises to resume, expand or switch production to medical protective supplies, disinfection and sterilization supplies, test reagents, medicines, and medical equipment, as well as raw materials needed for manufacturing these products. In particular, we have held meetings to mobilize and make deployments for enterprises to expand or switch production to medical protective suits. 

The joint efforts of all sectors from across society, various government departments and localities, have ensured that key medical supply companies are resuming work and production at a high rate. The output rate of these companies has reached and, in some cases, exceeded 100%, as some companies have expanded production. The capacity of key medical supplies has increased and now frontline medical staff in Hubei are guaranteed adequate supplies. The output of medical protective clothing has risen from less than 10,000 pieces per day on Jan. 28 to more than 200,000. The number of producers has already increased from less than 20 to more than 50 producing at maximum capacity, with nearly a hundred more applying for new licenses to start production. Over two million pieces of protective clothing have been sent to Hubei so far, which has guaranteed supplies on the frontline, Beijing and other parts of the country where the epidemic has been relatively severe. Regarding the masks, Mr. Cong Liang will talk about it for a while, which is also good in general. 

We have also guaranteed the production and supply of isolation clothing, and offered Wuhan over 700,000 pieces. 40,000 medical goggles and masks are now being produced per day, which has effectively met demand on the frontline. The work resumption rate of sanitizer and disinfectant companies currently stands at over 80%. The production capacity and output of 84 products of disinfectant, no-rinse hand sanitizer and medical alcohol is large enough to meet the needs of Hubei and even the whole country. So far, more than 1,500 metric tons of disinfectants and 115 metric tons of hand sanitizers have been transported to Hubei. At the same time, we are organizing e-commerce platforms and wholesale pharmaceutical companies to cooperate and provide sanitizers, online and in-store, as soon as possible, so we can meet the needs of the general public as work resumes.

Meanwhile, ten categories of medical equipment are in urgent need on the frontline, including negative pressure ambulances, ventilators, electrocardiogram (ECG) monitors, and various thermometers. But we are making sure the frontline is getting what it needs. For example, more than 10,000 ventilators and monitors, and 140,000 hand-held thermometers have arrived in Wuhan and played an important role in medical treatment.

Of course, the current epidemic situation is relatively severe, and controlling it is still at a critical stage. I should add that supplying medical materials is still relatively arduous, and key medical supply companies still require continuous, steady and high-quality support. Therefore, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) will cooperate with other government departments in epidemic prevention and control; work and production resumption; coordinating upstream and downstream industrial chains; prioritizing the urgent needs of the frontline; and meeting the needs of Beijing and the country to win the battle against the epidemic. Thank you.

Cong Liang:

Thank you for your question. I would like to add something about face masks. When inspecting the production of masks, Premier Li emphasized that masks are a weapon for medical personnel to fight the epidemic, a shield to protect the health of the people, and a guarantee for the orderly resumption of work and production of enterprises. In accordance with the arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) will work with relevant government departments to ensure the production and supply of masks.

Since Feb. 1, we have helped mask manufacturers to solve problems in terms of labor, capital, and raw materials, and made every effort to ensure the supply of masks. It can be roughly divided into two stages: the first stage was mainly to respond to the epidemic and to protect front-line medical staff, so we focused on expanding the production of medical N95 masks. As a result, the N95 daily output on Feb. 22 has reached 919,000, which is 8.6 times that of Feb. 1. We have transferred 3.3 million masks from provinces producing N95 masks to Wuhan, Beijing and other localities without N95 production capacity since February, among which 2.68 million were transferred to Wuhan. The recent daily transfer remains more than 150,000, and more than 300,000 N95 masks are provided across Wuhan every day, which can more than meet the needs of the 60,000 plus frontline medical staff.

For recent days, the resumption of work and production has seen an explosive growth in demand of face masks. We are now turning focus to ensuring the supply of ordinary medical and non-medical masks. The work will be carried out in the following three aspects:

First, production will be resumed to the fullest extent to meet demand. We will continue to ensure an overall resumption of face-mask production. In doing so, we prioritize supply of the labor force, funds, logistic services and key raw materials to meet the demand of the manufacturers concerned and stimulate them to work at full steam under the premise of epidemic prevention and safe and quality-centered production.

Second, the growth of productivity and the expansion of production capacities will be fully supported. We have launched a special campaign to expand the production capacity of face-masks for medical use since the beginning of this month. Enterprises were organized into three groups to increase productivity, expand capacity and switch production by means of technological improvement, so that greater supply could be secured. In the next phase, we will continue to draw up policies to support the endeavor of epidemic prevention and control, if necessary.

Third, concerted efforts will be made to ensure the smooth operation of the industrial chain. Viewing the entire industry, we will help accelerate the production of key raw materials and facilities, including melt-blown non-woven fabric, mask making machines and parts, to satisfy the urgent needs of face-mask manufacturers and raise industrial efficiency.

So far, new mask production lines have been launched in 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, with Tibet excluded, and there will be more on the way. By Feb. 22, the daily output of face masks had reached 54.77 million, growing 2.8 times the figure on Feb. 1. A total of 570 million face masks have been produced over the past 20 days.

We believe, with our concerted efforts, production will keep growing rapidly to better meet the demand as work and production resume amid the ongoing fight against the epidemic. Thank you.

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