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China pushes all-out production of face masks in virus fight

From carmakers to oil producers, companies gear up to make essential item

Employees work on a production line for surgical masks at a factory in Nantong, Jiangsu province.   © Reuters

HONG KONG -- The Chinese government is urging companies to ramp up production of face masks to meet surging demand as the new coronavirus continues to spread.

Companies ranging from state-owned carmakers to oil producers are installing production lines as the government aims to raise output by at least 70%. But it will not be easy to meet demand from 1.4 billion people desperate for a measure of protection against infection. Many people complain they cannot get masks anywhere, and it is unclear when the shortage will ease.

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