China orders 200 mln masks from Turkey
In this Jan. 29, 2020, combination of photos, people wear various masks as they wait at an immigration counter at an airport terminal in Sepang, Malaysia, outside Kuala Lumpur. Face masks are in short supply in parts of the world as people try to stop the spread of a new virus from China. (AP Photo)
China has put in orders for a total of 200 million protective face masks from Turkish medical firms over the past 10 days, as the country wrestles an outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, Fatih Arpacı, a stakeholder in a medical firm based in Aegean İzmir province, said as a "surprising" turnout of events, Chinese firms ordered a total of 200 million face masks in one go.
"It is surprising to us as China is one of the biggest face mask producers in the world. Turkey produces a total of 150 million face masks in one year. But they wanted 200 million face masks," he said.
"Demands keep coming not only from China, but also from other countries such as Italy, the Netherlands, France, Poland and Germany. We work 24 hours a day to meet this demand. We also work on Sundays." Arpacı said.
As a respiratory illness, the virus can be transmitted through the air, with a protective mask covering the mouth and nose being a popular precaution against infection.
With mask stocks dwindling in China, demand in the country for the face-gear has skyrocketed since the virus erupted late last year.
One of the countries Beijing has turned to meet this demand was Turkey, where producers have since boosted activity.
Arpacı said his company alone would make an initial shipment of 250,000 masks to China, adding that the requested numbers were very high, considering the firm's capacity.
China is one of the world's biggest protective medical mask producers, but has lately been hard pressed to meet domestic demand.
The novel coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan city in central China, is said to have been transmitted to humans from animals, particularly bats.
The death toll in China from the novel coronavirus outbreak has climbed to 213, the National Health Commission said Friday.
Some 9,692 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV, have been reported in China.
The virus has raised alarms globally, with cases reported across Asia, Europe, the U.S. and Canada.
Travelers from China are being screened for the virus at airports worldwide. Several airlines have suspended flights to Wuhan and other parts of China.
At an emergency meeting Thursday, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak an international emergency.