The Rising Demand for Masks in China Posted by on Mar 2, 2020 in News

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The new strain of coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan city, Hubei province, in late December.

The Chinese government used drastic steps to contain the virus. On January 23, a day before the Chinese New Year Eve celebrations, Wuhan was placed under lockdown. Transportation inside and outside the city was cut off. Buses, railways, flights, and ferry services had all stopped at once. The typically bustling city of 11 million population became a ghost town.


Kǒu zhào chéng le jǐn qiào pǐn.

Masks become a product in huge demand.

A note, issued by the Wuhan municipal government on January 22, instructs citizens to wear protective masks (口罩 kǒu zhào) in public. According to the note, employees of the government, enterprises, and institutions must wear a mask while on duty. Citizens are also obligated to wear a mask when going out. Restaurants, hotels, shops, theaters, libraries , and other public places must allow entrance only to people with a mask covering their mouth and nose . A prominent (醒目 xǐng mù) sign should be placed at the entrance, reminding people of the new order. Big placards then appeared in front of every shop, saying:


Wèi le nín de jiàn kāng qǐng pèi dài kǒu zhào zài jìn rù mài chǎng, bù dài kǒu zhào jìn zhǐ rù nèi, xiè xiè nín de pèi hé!

For your health, please wear a mask before entering the store. Entrance is forbidden without a mask. Thank you for your cooperation!

A video of a presenter of the Hubei Economic Channel wearing mask while broadcasting became viral on the same day the note was issued. The presenter put the mask on to encourage others. 从我做起 (cóng wǒ zuò qǐ, start with me), she wrote on her Weibo account, and elaborated the measures needed to be taken by the citizens:


Bù lí kāi Wǔhàn shì, bù qù rén yuán mì jí de, chū mén dài kǒu zhào, huí jiā qín xǐ shǒu, shì nèi cháng tōng fēng.

Don’t leave Wuhan, don’t get into crowded places, wear a mask when going outside, wash your hands thoroughly when arriving home, ventilate the room often.  

The virus had soon spread to other regions. Three more cities and two provinces have also ordered the compulsory wearing of masks. Even without mandatory instruction, many Chinese have turned to masks. One of the heated discussions this days in China is how often should someone replace (更换 gēng huàn) their mask. Once a day? Every time you go out? Some don’t even settle for one mask when going out. The demand for masks is greater than ever.


Suí zhe yì qíng de màn yán, kǒu zhào de xū qiú liàng bào fǎ shì zēng zhǎng.

The epidemic spread has led to an explosive growth in the demand for masks.      

China is the world’s largest mask manufacturer and exporter. It produces about half the world’s sanitary face masks. Its maximum production capacity of masks is fairly high – about 20 million pieces per day. But for a country which has just formally announced in January that its population has crept past 1.4 billion, it’s not enough. Pharmacies soon run out of masks, and signs of口罩已售完 (kǒu zhào yǐ shòu wán, masks sold out) have become a common sight.


Zhōng guó shì shì jiè zuì dà de kǒu zhào shēng chǎn hé chū kǒu guó.

China is the world’s largest mask manufacturer and exporter.

Chinese mask factories (口罩厂 kǒu zhào chǎng) are working around the clock. Many of them have cancelled New Year vacations, and were banned from exporting their product. But even that is not enough. In Nanjing, a clothing factory has turned into mask factory overnight. China has also started to import masks from Europe, Japan, and the United States.


Xiàn zài quán guó dà dà xiǎo xiǎo de kǒuzhào chǎng, dōu jiā jǐn shēng chǎn kǒu zhào.

Every mask factory in the country is now stepping up production of masks.


Text vocabulary

口罩 kǒu zhào = mask

紧俏 jǐn qiào = in demand

醒目 xǐng mù = eye-catching

健康 jiàn kāng  = health, healthy

配合 pèi hé = to cooperate

密集 mì jí = crowded

佩戴 pèi dài= to wear

dài = to wear

更换 gēng huàn = to change

疫情 yì qíng = epidemic situation

需求量 xū qiú liàng = demand

shòu = to sell

生产 shēng chǎn = to produce

口罩厂 kǒu zhào chǎng = mask factory

加紧 jiā jǐn = to speed up, to step up




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