As the coronavirus landed in Europe and the US, the former epicenter of the outbreak, China, has exported to other countries medical supplies worth $1.45 billion (10.2 billion yuan) to battle the deadly pandemic.
The key supplies, including billions of masks, millions of protection suits and infrared temperature detectors, as well as 16,000 units of ventilators, were sent overseas in one month from March 1 to April 4, the country’s General Administration of Customs announced on Sunday.
According to Chinese Ministry of Commerce, exports of medical supplies have been increasing and the government is not going to impose any restrictions on the vital shipments. As of Saturday, 54 countries and 3 international organizations inked commercial procurement contracts for medical supplies with Beijing.
Apparently reacting to the some reports that the European countries received faulty medical supplies, the ministry said that Chinese producers caught sending medical goods with quality problems will face “severe” punishment, according state-linked outlet Global Times.
China became the first country to be hit by the novel coronavirus at the end of last year. The virus was later recognized pandemic as it rapidly spread across the globe, with more than 1.2 million cases and nearly 65,000 deaths worldwide as of Sunday. The US is currently the worst affected nation by the number of cases, with more than 300,000 infections, and over 8,500 fatalities.
EU countries have been fighting shortages of necessary medical devices and protective equipment which can potentially expose medical staff to higher risks of getting ill and further deteriorate the situation. Documents obtained by Reuters in March showed that the regional suppliers could cover only ten percent of the demand. The US is also suffering from shortages of medical gear, and has been even diverting shipments of vital protective masks from its allies.
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