China eases restrictions on exports of some coronavirus equipment
Iran Press TV
Sunday, 26 April 2020 3:49 PM
China has decided to ease an export restriction on some medical equipment, which required domestic approval before they could be sold overseas, as long as they are approved in the importing countries.
China's Commerce Ministry said in a statement on Saturday that the country is dropping a requirement that a number of key coronavirus-related products get domestic regulatory approval before being exported to other countries.
The new rule, which applies to products such as coronavirus tests, medical masks, protective gear, infrared thermometers and ventilators, lifts the previous restriction, which had been in place since the end of March, after several European countries complained about the accuracy of Chinese-made test kits.
During a media briefing on Sunday, Li Xinqian, an official at the Commerce Ministry, said products with overseas approval will be allowed for export after relevant verification by a trade group authorized by the Ministry.
Zhang Shuwen, the CEO of Liming Bio-products, a biotech firm offering coronavirus tests targeting the overseas market, said he believes the new rule is a 'wise' revision to the previous one.
"It's wrong to have a one-size-fits-all policy," Zhang said.
"Each country may have different criteria for medicines and medical devices. The priority is to meet the requirement in the countries where the product will be sold, instead of where the product is made."
Many countries are pushing to obtain the necessary personal protection equipment they need to fight the new coronavirus.
The novel coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease known as COVID-19, emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei Province in December.
The virus has so far infected over 2,940,700 people worldwide. More than 203,800 have died, according to a running count by worldometers.info.
China seizes over 89 million shoddy face masks
In the meantime, China has confiscated over 89 million poor quality face masks, a government official says.
China's market regulators had inspected nearly 16 million businesses and seized over 89 million masks and 418,000 pieces of protective gear as of Friday, said Gan Lin, deputy director of the State Administration of Market Regulation, at a press conference.
Regulators had also seized ineffective disinfectants worth over 7.6 million yuan ($1.1 million), she said.
It is unclear how much of the confiscated goods were destined for markets abroad.
China is producing more than 116 million masks per day, according to official figures.
It has exported more than one billion masks so far this year, Commerce Ministry official Li Xingqian told reporters.
China has also signed contracts to export medical equipment worth $1.41 billion to 74 countries and six international organizations, he added.
In the first two months of the year, a staggering 8,950 new manufacturers started producing masks in China, according to business data platform Tianyancha.
Spain records lowest number of coronavirus deaths in over a month
Spain said on Sunday the number of daily coronavirus-related fatalities fell to its lowest level in more than a month, with 288 deaths in the previous 24 hours.
That took total fatalities to 23,190 from 22,902 the day before, the Spanish Health Ministry said.
Tajikistan suspends soccer season over pandemic
Tajikistan, one of just a handful nations that had pressed ahead with a soccer season despite the pandemic, said on Sunday it was suspending games until May 10 after the government decided to take fresh precautionary measures.
The suspension will take effect from Monday, the Tajik Football Federation said, with Sunday games still set to take place with no spectators, just like the previous matches.
Tajikistan, which borders China, has reported no coronavirus cases, although its ex-Soviet neighbors have confirmed hundreds.
Cases of pneumonia and a suspected swine flu fatality have caused concern, however.
On Saturday, the Dushanbe government decided to close schools for two weeks and ban the exports of grains and pulses to ensure domestic supply.
Bangladesh garment factories reopen, defying virus lockdown
Hundreds of Bangladesh garment factories defied a nationwide lockdown to reopen on Sunday, raising fears the industry's vulnerable and largely female workforce could be exposed to the contagion.
Big-name international brands have cancelled or held up billions of dollars in orders due to the pandemic, crippling an industry that accounts for nearly all of the South Asian country's export earnings.
Factories shut their doors in late March but some suppliers said they were now being pushed by retailers to fulfill outstanding export orders.
"We have to accept coronavirus as part of life. If we don't open factories, there will be economic crisis," said Mohammad Hatem, Vice President of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Factories were "under pressure" from brands to meet export deadlines and feared the risk that billions in orders could be diverted to competing operations in countries like Vietnam or China, Hatem added.
More than four million people work in thousands of garment factories across Bangladesh, which last year shipped out $35 billion of apparel to retailers such as H&M, Inditex and Walmart.
Hundreds of those factories had resumed operations over the weekend in the industrial areas of Gazipur and Ashulia, outside the capital Dhaka.
Bangladesh, a nation of 168 million people, has almost 5,500 confirmed COVID-19 infections and 145 deaths, according to government figures.
Experts say the real number is likely much higher due to a lack of patient testing by authorities.
South Korea's big churches reopen with designated seats, size limits
Large churches in South Korea reopened on Sunday, requiring worshipers to keep their distance and wear masks, after the government relaxed restrictions on religious gatherings aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
Onnuri Church, one of the biggest churches in Seoul, required members to sign up online ahead of the service and sit on designated seats to maintain distance.
It has also limited attendance to 700 in a hall with a capacity of 3,000 people, a church official said.
On April 19, South Korea extended its social distancing policy until May 5 but offered some relief for religious and sports facilities previously subject to strict restrictions.
A secretive church, the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, was at the epicenter of South Korea's coronavirus outbreak, with about half of the country's total infections of more than 10,700 linked to its members.
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