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Shortage Of Face Masks Produced In Iran Amid Bulk Chinese Purchases

A worker takes body temperature measurement of a man at the entrance to a residential compound following an outbreak of the new coronavirus in Wuhan, Hubei province, February 1, 2020

An Iranian expert on Monday warned that export of face masks to China need to be stopped to prevent a shortage in the domestic market and said Chinese merchants are purchasing in advance nearly all of the masks produced in the country.

Speaking to the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA), Feisal Mardasi, an advisor to the Association of Non-Woven Medical Supplies Producers, said there is no clear information on how many masks Iranian factories produce.

Mardasi called on the authorities to stop the export of masks in view of possible higher demand if coronavirus spreads to Iran. "At the moment Chinese merchants are forward-purchasing almost all of the masks that are produced," he said.

Iran has also donated a million masks to China on Saturday. The Iranian embassy in Beijing on Saturday said one million masks donated by Iran's Red Crescent Society had arrived in China to help the country deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

The announcement was made on the Iranian embassy's Sina Weibo account which is a microblogging and social networking service similar to Twitter. "Iran admires the determination of the government and people of China in the battle against this disease," the message said.

Iranian social media users in recent days have reported a shortage of masks made from non-woven fabrics in drugstores and some of them have said the reason is that masks are being sent to China.

Iranian officials have yet not commented on the subject.

Screengrab of Iranian Embassy in Beijing announcement February 2, 2020.
Screengrab of Iranian Embassy in Beijing announcement February 2, 2020.