Face masks, infrared thermometers and hazmat suits are among the most sought-after exports from China as the country joins hands with the rest of the world to stem the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) which has hit 159 countries and regions.
Information made public by a growing number of listed companies in China showed factories are running at full capacity to ensure domestic supply while meeting a spike in overseas demand for protective gear and other medical supplies.
Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics Co., Ltd. said the Italian government had procured nearly 10,000 devices for fighting the disease, most of which are for patient monitoring, from the Guangdong-based medical equipment giant, whose products were part of the Chinese medical aid that arrived in Italy on March 12.
"It was the single largest order to the company since the COVID-19 outbreak," said Li Wenmei, the company's board secretary. According to Li, Mindray had also received purchase orders from other European countries, and countries in the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East. It has received an order from Spain and the detail of the order would be disclosed in early April.
Shenzhen-listed Guangdong Biolight Meditech Co., Ltd. on Tuesday disclosed that it had since March 2 received orders for nearly 2,000 pieces of medical equipment from eight countries including Italy, France and Germany. Zhejiang Dali Technology Co., Ltd, another manufacturer of infrared thermometers, said production is running at full tilt to meet growing orders at home and from Asia, Europe, and America.
Raw materials for making protective gear are also in huge demand. Oriental Energy Co., Ltd, a major alkane resources operator, said it had exported over 3,000 tonnes of Y381H, an essential fiber for making the melt-blown non-woven fabric used for making face masks and protective suits, to countries including India and Vietnam since February.
To facilitate supply to the overseas market, Chinese firms and institutions are ramping up efforts to acquire import credentials.
Mask-maker Great Star Industrial Co., Ltd. said it had finished the registration of medical devices in the European Union for its products after being conferred the EC declaration of conformity document, which indicates a device manufacturer's commitment to quality and its product complies to all the requirements of European product legislation.
At least 10 Chinese producers of detection kits for nucleic acid and antibody testing have also won approvals to enter the EU market. The kits are expected to meet surging clinical demands for fast and accurate detection of the virus and facilitate quarantine measures.
Meanwhile, 14 novel coronavirus testing kits developed by five Chinese universities including Tsinghua University have obtained the CE marking, which allows them to be marketed across the European Union, according to the Ministry of Education.
China has donated a batch of the testing kits, and the products have been supplied to more than 10 countries such as Italy, Britain and the Netherlands, said Lei Chaozi, an official with the ministry at a press conference in Beijing Tuesday.
To protect and save its people from the virus, China has pulled out all the stops for medical supply production amid great efforts to fully recover the industrial chain.
China produces about half of the world's masks with a daily output of 20 million units before the epidemic. Still, it had to launch massive production expansion to secure supply given the explosive growth in demand.
With production catapulted into full gear, China's daily output of face masks reached 116 million units as of early March, 12 times the figure reported on Feb. 1.
As COVID-19 is further contained at home, China is becoming an important exporter and donor of anti-epidemic necessities -- a friend in need of other countries and regions in fighting back the disease. Here are some of the recent endeavors:
-- An aircraft carrying 500,000 medical masks from China arrived at Zaragoza airport in northern Spain on Tuesday, as confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country rose to 11,178;
-- A team of 12 medical experts from east China's Zhejiang Province was sent to Italy Tuesday by the Chinese government to aid the anti-coronavirus fight on the Apennine Peninsula;
-- Three hundred thousand face masks donated by Chinese charities arrived in Belgium Monday;
-- China donated 2,000 fast test kits for COVID-19 to the Philippines Monday;
-- Beijing will donate protective supplies including medical isolation gowns and gloves to the cities of Seoul, Tehran, Tokyo and Yokohama to help with their novel coronavirus control. Some 200,000 medical isolation gowns, 100,000 pairs of gloves, 200,000 pairs of shoe covers and 200,000 disposable medical caps will be delivered to these cities;
-- South China's Guangdong Province has donated more than 80,000 testing kits to countries including Iran, Japan, Iraq and Peru;
-- Central China's Hunan Province has donated supplies to aid the novel coronavirus fight in Laos and the Republic of Korea;
China will further expand international cooperation and offer help to other countries and regions in their fight against COVID-19, said Li Xingqian, an official with the Ministry of Commerce.
"We will always remember the sincere help offered by other countries and international organizations to China when it fought against the epidemic," Li said. "While overcoming its own difficulties, China will offer assistance within its ability to relevant countries, especially countries and regions hit hard by the virus."
The Chinese government will continue to encourage its enterprises to export face masks and other medical supplies to make its due contributions to the global fight against COVID-19, according to the official.