Chinese officials are buying up medical masks in the virus-wracked country from factories that typically supply hospitals around the world, forcing manufacturers to boost output globally and hospitals to ration supplies.
Masks are essential protective gear for medical workers treating patients potentially infected with the newly identified coronavirus, which has spread across China and beyond. China is one of the world’s top producers of medical masks and other gear. Now officials there are directing much of that supply to the front lines of the outbreak, leaving customers in the U.S. and other countries to look elsewhere for masks as global supplies tighten.
Medicom Group, a Montreal-based mask maker, said it received a letter from officials in Shanghai ordering it to sell output from its factory in the city to the local government.