A number of Chinese manufacturers including a subsidiary of Apple Inc partner Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) have refitted production lines to make masks and medical clothing, as the 2019 novel coronavirus spreads across China.
The move highlights how private companies are pitching in to alleviate a nationwide shortage of medical gear amid the health crisis, at times expanding beyond their core lines of business.
Hon Hai, known internationally as Foxconn Technology Group (富士康科技集團), said in a social media post on Thursday that it has begun trial production of surgical masks at its Longhua Park plant in Shenzhen, China, and expects to produce 2 million masks daily by the end of the month.
The firm said that the masks would initially be produced for internal use by its hundreds of thousands of employees, the majority of whom work in factories in China.
SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co Ltd (上海通用五菱), an automaking venture of General Motors Co and two Chinese partners, also announced on Thursday via social media that it would set up 14 production lines, with the goal of making 1.7 million masks daily.
Hongdou Group Co Ltd (紅豆集團), a clothing manufacturer founded in the 1950s, on Tuesday wrote on social media that it had refitted a factory to make disposable medical suits.
The company said that it intends to produce about 60,000 protective suits a month and would send them to the government for allocation and distribution.
Hongdou employs 30,000 people, its Web site said.
Apparel peers Zhejiang Giuseppe Garment Co Ltd (浙江喬治白服飾) and Jihua Group Corp Ltd (際華集團) have launched similar initiatives, state media outlets reported this week.
Factories inside and outside of China have worked around the clock to keep up with demand since the outbreak of the virus at the end of last year in Wuhan, China. Pharmacies in commercial districts have posted signs telling customers that masks are not in stock.
One Czech mask manufacturer last last month said that orders increased 57,000 percent within four days.
To cope with the shortage, localities in China have set up rationing systems.
In Shanghai, people wanting to obtain masks must provide a neighborhood committee with their ID and phone number, after which they are contacted when they can retrieve a set of masks.
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