France has ordered 1 billion face masks from China, French Health Minister Olivier Véran confirmed in a press conference on Saturday. Speaking alongside Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, Véran said the country could produce 8 million face masks a week but consumed 40 million each week.
As the Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc across the globe, thousands of factories in China have turned to a new and very profitable export market i.e. face masks. With the shift of the Covid-19 epicentre from China via Europe to the United States, Beijing has re-modelled itself as the world’s guardian as local infection figures decline to almost zero.
With coronavirus rapidly increasing worldwide, demand for face masks has surged. Pharmacies in many countries were completely out of face masks by the end of January.
Many nations, like the French, have contended that wearing face masks is not absolutely vital, prioritising the supply of protective equipment to medical personnel dealing directly with coronavirus patients.
However, as the cases of coronavirus in France continue to swell, the panicked public is persistent in having masks, and Chinese manufacturers jumped in. China has sent millions of masks to its European Belt and Road Initiative partners, the Czech Republic and Italy, followed by Serbia, and later also to France and other regions hit by the virus.
Earlier, as per the report of El Pais, Spain after buying $467 million in medical supplies from China, including 950 ventilators, 5.5 million testing kits, 11 million gloves and more than half a billion protective face masks soon announced that it had planned to return 9,000 quick result test kits to China because they were deemed substandard.
China later admitted that the kits they sold to Spain were bought from Bioeasy, a Chinese company not licensed to make them.
As per NPR report verified by the EurAsian Times, soon after China sent shipments of medical supplies to Italy with a gigantic Chinese flag displayed on the supplies that read, “The friendship road knows no borders,” China’s President Xi Jinping called the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and told him that Beijing wanted to help Italy in its times of crisis and build a “Health Silk Road”.