As the coronavirus death toll in China continues to mount, authorities in Beijing are racing to convert an industrial building into a mask factory in six days.
The new factory, built by China Construction First Group, is expected to produce some 250,000 masks a day, state news agency Xinhua reports.
Work started yesterday, with round-the-clock shifts in place to get the factory ready by Saturday.
The company will take take workers’ temperatures daily to watch for possible new infections, and will set aside rooms separated from worker accommodation for anyone with symptoms of the virus, project manager Song Chao told Xinhua.
Today, the total death toll from the epidemic reached 1,875, most of those in China, while total confirmed cases of coronavirus reached 73,337.
On 7 February, the World Health Organisation warned of a global shortage of face masks, owing to the epidemic.Â
"Demand is up to 100 times higher than normal and prices are up to 20 times higher," said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
"This situation has been exacerbated by widespread and inappropriate use of PPE outside patient care. As a result, there are now depleted stockpiles and backlogs of four to six months. Global stocks of masks and respirators are now insufficient to meet the needs of WHO and our partners."
Image: Medics wait to check commuters’ temperatures at Jishuitan metro station, Beijing, 27 January 2020 (Pau Colominas/CC BY-SA 4.0)