Chinese manufacturers of face masks are reportedly making huge profits as demand across the world rises among the healthcare workers and common people to try and fight the novel coronavirus. This rush to make masks has created a “madhouse” like atmosphere among the manufacturers in China, according to analysts.
According to a report published in The Guardian, quoting Michael Crotty, a textile broker based in Shanghai, many of the Chinese mask manufacturing companies are now demanding full payment from clients even before the deliveries are shipped from the factories and the makers are supply the masks to anyone who is paying the most and the fastest.
There has been a flood of new enquiries from US states, national governments, cities, hospitals, distributors and private companies asking for masks being delivered to them to protect their employees, and Crotty, of Golden Pacific Fashion and Design, said he had spent all of Sunday processing those new enquiries.
“It’s just a madhouse,” he said. “Money talks. The factory knows one thing: what’s in my bank account and when did it get there? And if it gets there before the other guy then that’s who is going to get the production time.”
According to reports, many factories in China have quickly transformed their production lines to make masks and are demanding 50 per cent payment at the time of placing an order and the rest 50 per cent before the shipment leaves the factory. However, many buyers are finding those payment terms unacceptable because of scams proliferating and particularly for those who buying masks out of taxpayers’ money.
“The factory doesn’t care,” Crotty said. “They’re getting orders from people they’ve never heard of before. It’s a really unusual circumstance to have these factories absolutely in the driver’s seat. And they’re in the driving seat not of a Volkswagen but of a Mercedes limousine.”
While many residents in Asia are accustomed to wearing masks because of the higher levels of pollution and to combat the spread of diseases, it is quite uncommon in Europe and in the United States until now.
There are a variety of masks that are available in the market – ranging from those with thin cotton coverings to fine-mesh surgical masks as well as respirators that help to completely seal the mouth and nose and need to pass through strict specifications.
A debate is undergoing in some European countries about whether to advise the general population to put on masks whenever they leave home and go outside. A guidance was issued last week by the CDC in the US advising Americans to wear a mask while they are in public spaces.
Trump has shrugged off the advice so far, saying: “This is voluntary. I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”
Last week, the US was blamed by French and German officials of using “wild west” tactics to outbid them.
Crotty however said that the outbidding appeared to be an all-against-all affair.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)