Guaranteeing Medical Supplies in an Orderly and Effective Manner During Anti-Epidemic Fight
Life is precious above all else. The epidemic calls us to action, and it is our duty to bring it under control. The CPC Central Committee has taken the COVID-19 epidemic very seriously since its outbreak. General Secretary Xi Jinping has personally planned, directed, and promoted response efforts, putting forward the overall requirements that we maintain firm confidence, work through challenges together, adopt science-based prevention and treatment measures, and implement policies with precision. He has also stressed that the health and safety of the people must come first, and that firm and practical steps should be taken to curb the spread of the epidemic. Over the course of anti-epidemic fight, Xi Jinping has made a whole series of instructions and comments regarding the issue of medical equipment, providing essential guidelines for guaranteeing sufficient supply. In accordance with the arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has led the work of a group tasked with guaranteeing medical supplies under the State Council's COVID-19 joint prevention and control mechanism. Following the Central Committee's directive to exercise leadership, provide instructions, and take action in a unified manner, we have spared no effort in guaranteeing the production and provision of medical supplies, thus providing powerful support for winning the fight against the epidemic.
I. Engaging in nationwide efforts while prioritizing the needs of Wuhan and Hubei
Since the disease spread aggressively at the beginning of the outbreak, demand for medical supplies rose rapidly, particularly in Hubei Province and its capital city of Wuhan. The tasks involved in guaranteeing the supply of medical equipment were therefore extremely urgent and arduous. After Hubei Province issued the first list of requested supplies on January 23, crucial equipment including masks and protective suits were immediately sent to Wuhan from national stockpiles. In addition, the Medical Supply Group arranged for the CPC committees and governments of a number of provinces and cities to collect local medical equipment that was then rushed to Wuhan. Many chief provincial and municipal officials immediately went into action after receiving the order, bringing together the necessary manpower and working day and night to organize shipments of equipment. Several businesses also answered the nation's call, acting decisively to transfer goods intended for export to the Medical Supply Group for emergency use. By the time that Premier Li Keqiang visited Wuhan on January 27, although there were still shortages of protective medical equipment such as protective suits and N95 masks, strain on medical supplies including disinfectants and medical devices had already begun to diminish.
In response to serious shortages of N95 masks and protective suits, beginning on January 28, mechanisms were set up for linking supply to demand on a daily basis and arranging contributions of materials from key enterprises under the coordination of the State Council's joint prevention and control mechanism, and a national unified management system was put in place in an all-out effort to meet the needs of Hubei Province and Wuhan City in particular. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology selected 73 officials to act as special representatives assigned to 56 key raw materials and manufacturing enterprises in 16 provinces and cities in order to ensure that the entire production and shipment process was under control and that operational difficulties were promptly resolved. Thanks to vigorous efforts to restart production, repurpose factories, and expand capacity, as well as through additional international procurements, the amounts of N95 masks and protective suits supplied to Hubei Province each day started to exceed the requirements ordered by the Central Guiding Team by a small margin, but it was still a tight balance. Since February 15, as domestic production has scaled up rapidly, the supply of national-standard protective suits to Hubei Province has exceeded the demand. This ensured that there was enough equipment for each day and alleviated concerns that supplies would run out, while also allowing for attention to be focused on the needs of other key areas such as Beijing.
Workers make protective garments at a factory operated by Xinxing Cathay International Group. Thanks to tireless efforts, we have gradually guaranteed the provision of medical supplies through unified allocation. Whereas there were severe shortages at the beginning of the outbreak, we are now able to meet essentially all needs.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE MINISTRY OF INDUSTRY AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
By February 25, the Medical Supply Group had provided Hubei Province with 2,836,400 protective suits, 2,482,000 N95 masks, 922,000 isolation gowns, 821,000 face and eye shields, 196.25 tons of hand sanitizer, 117,900 cases of 84 disinfectant (5%), and 158,000 handheld infrared thermometers. In addition, Hubei was designated as the priority destination for vast amounts of imported medical supplies, which were used in emergency response after being sorted and tested. The province was also provided with 516 negative pressure ambulances and more than 55,000 urgently needed medical devices in 38 different categories, including 10 types of equipment that Hubei Province identified as being in short supply on February 19. Apart from heart-lung machines, which were acquired through international procurements and domestic and international donations, other urgently needed equipment was transferred from stockpiles or produced domestically within little more than a week.
A technician handles a test sample of the novel coronavirus in a biosafety cabinet at the Hanjiang Biomedical Innovation Laboratory in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province, February 17, 2020. PEOPLE'S DAILY / PHOTO BY MENG DELONG