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Shanghai citizens volunteer in mask production to combat coronavirus outbreak


Alwihda Info | Par peoplesdaily - 7 Février 2020

Currently, domestic mask producers have resumed 60 percent of its production capacity, Cao Xuejun, a senior official at the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said at a press conference Sunday, February 2. The total output topped 10 million pieces daily. China is also seeking for imports to meet the surging demand in the face of the ongoing epidemic.


By Chen Shasha

On January 27, 2020, in Shanghai, citizens lined up to buy masks in a pharmacy in Pudong New Area. (Photo by Wang Gang from People’s Daily Online)
On January 27, 2020, in Shanghai, citizens lined up to buy masks in a pharmacy in Pudong New Area. (Photo by Wang Gang from People’s Daily Online)
27-year-old Zhou Wenjia, hearing-impaired, has been on the go all day to enroll volunteers for a mask production firm located in Songjiang district of Shanghai. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, face masks have emerged as a basic necessity among the public.

As many of the workers returned to their native hometown to spend the Spring Festival break, some mask producers, which had to start production before the holiday ended, are struggling to meet the demands. Samaritan of Shanghai decided to fill this void and joined as volunteers at the production line.

“About 100 people would like to add me on WeChat every day, hoping to get enrolled as volunteers. People really want to help,” Zhou Wenjia told the Global Times.

“Through this, I can feel that people are all united to do what they can to win this battle against the coronavirus epidemic. No matter how hard it is, it’s worth it,” Zhou Wenjia said.

She works for a Shanghai-based charitable organization, Symphony Charity & Social Development Center (SCSD), which plans to arrange 20 volunteers to join the night shift in the factory starting from January 29 to February 8.

Zhou Rong, deputy director of SCSD told Global Times a total of 120 volunteers have joined the production as of Monday.

Aged from 18 to 60 years old, these volunteers come from different walks of like, including white-collar workers, veterans, housewives, university students, and retirees. According to Zhou, the only prerequisite is all the applicants should be in good health and shouldn’t have been out of the city in the last 14 days.

The shift is from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am, during which their primary tasks include running quality checks, counting and then packing them in carton boxes.

Wang Wenkang, 44, a salesperson at a chemical industry, is one of the volunteers. “The first night shift made me realize how hard the workers in the production line work,” Wang told the Global Times. “But my passion alleviated the work fatigue.”

“During this crucial time, everybody, from the government to individuals, is doing his bit to fight the epidemic, I have to do something,” he said.

According to Wang, volunteers have to pass temperature screenings before they are let into the factory. They are only allowed to work on the line after completing basic training, wearing protective suits, and going through disinfection.

Zhou Rong told Global Times 20 volunteers can produce around 300,000 masks per night. Considering that volunteers are doing the work without payment, SCSD bought commercial insurance for them. Moreover, their 12-hour charity service will be formally recognized by the city’s official volunteer association, Shanghai Volunteer.

Shanghai Shenghui Plastic Package in the Fengxian district of Shanghai manufactures N95 masks for an international brand. It resumed production on January 25, the first day of Chinese Lunar New Year.

Volunteers started joining from January 27 onwards, Lu Lili, an HR official at the company told the Global Times. From January 27 to 29, the company has welcomed 30 to 50 volunteers every day, Lu said. Working in shifts from 8 am to 4:30 pm, they are mainly assigned to packaging.

Most of their volunteers are management professionals at the Shanghai Hangzhou Bay Economic and Technological Development Co., Ltd. Besides, professionals from other companies also joined the workforce.

Qian Li, a department head at the company told the Global Times her company dispatched about 120 people to the factory to help on the production line for free.

“Working on the production line is really a physical challenge to our office workers,” Qian said, adding that she and two other volunteers could only handle nine boxes of masks in one morning shift. But she was proud that they can contribute something during this nationwide combat against coronavirus epidemic.

“In order not to increase the burden on the company, our volunteers left the factory as soon as we finished our work,” Qian said.

According to Lu, the company could only make 40,000 to 50,000 masks every day at the very beginning. However, as more people joined in, its current daily production capacity has reached above 100,000.

Lu said the company offered a certain amount of payment to some volunteers to express their gratitude, but some refused to accept it.

Currently, domestic mask producers have resumed 60 percent of its production capacity, Cao Xuejun, a senior official at the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said at a press conference Sunday, February 2. The total output topped 10 million pieces daily. China is also seeking for imports to meet the surging demand in the face of the ongoing epidemic.

Source:Global Times


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