China’s apparel makers shift gear for medical suits, masks

BEIJING (Xinhua) – Tweaking production lines and building new workshops, China’s apparel companies have stepped up to help mitigate the acute shortage in medical protective outfits and face masks amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Challenge, a Shanghai-based fabric company, converted a three-storey workshop to produce protective outfits from February 4, while fashion company Dishang Group in eastern China’s Shandong Province started prototyping the outfit in its refurbished germ-free workshop.

Daily output is pushing toward 6,000 items at Challenge, said Yang Shibin, president of the company. In the city of Ningbo in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province, 14 garment manufacturers including the well-known brand Peacebird and a raw and auxiliary material producer are expected to produce one million masks within 20 days, according to Fashion Ningbo, the city’s self-governed fashion industry association.

Local governments have fast-tracked approval for these companies to shift to producing medical gear, which took Dishang a mere 30 minutes in the city of Weihai.

China has rolled out a raft of measures to help boost the production of medical supplies including cutting red tape, tax relief and rent subsidies, as a further rise is expected in the already strong demand for protective gear with millions of people gradually returning to work this week.