Virus-hit city makes all efforts to fight against novel coronavirus epidemic

By He Guanghua, Hou Linliang, People’s Daily
Xiantao in central China’s Hubei Province has played its part in the nationwide battle against the novel coronavirus epidemic through curbing the virus and producing medical materials in full swing.
Xiantao is known as China’s famous industrial city of nonwovens as it abounds with non-woven fabrics. The city is also a member of the Wuhan City Circle, a regional economic union with Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus epidemic, being the center.
On Feb. 8, Xiantao, the county-level city managed to increase its daily output of medical protective clothing to 30,000, a figure that seemed impossible in the past.
Although it abounds with non-woven fabrics, Xiantao has very few manufacturers that can handle the whole process of production of medical protective clothing. Some local companies can only provide raw materials or semi-finished products.
At present, the whole country, especially Wuhan, is face with a shortage in medical supplies. “We are going to fulfill the task whether we have the conditions or not. There’s no turning back but only mission and responsibility for us in front of the epidemic,” said Zhou Zhihong, secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Xiantao municipal committee, after receiving the order from the provincial government of Hubei.
In an effort to improve production capacity, Xiantao has spared no effort to mobilize the whole city and make scientific arrangements to speed up production of relevant supplies and make full use of every minute.
The city has ensured overall coordination and unified procurement of equipment, unified supply of raw materials, unified protection and accommodation for employees, unified inspection, test and quarantine, unified loading and transportation, and unified budgetary appropriations for designated enterprises.
Meanwhile, the city has launched dedicated work teams to guarantee production of relevant supplies. Each team has been stationed in one local factory to organize production on site.
According to Yan Zhichao, deputy mayor of Xiantao, a total of ten local enterprises have been involved in the production of medical protective clothing, with one of which providing raw materials and the other nine producing semi-finished products. All of the products were handed over to Winner Medical Group Inc., a provider of medical supplies headquartered in Shenzhen, south China’s Guangdong Province, to go through procedures such as disinfection.
Production standards of medical protective clothing are extremely strict, especially those concerning joining two pieces of cloth together with a strip, according to Jiang Aiping, a quality inspector, explaining that only by sticking strips on relevant areas can the cloth be joined together and the effect of the clothing be strengthened.
“It looks simply, but skilled workers are not easy to find,” said Jiang, while demonstrating the process of pasting strips.
“It’s difficult to recruit workers during the Spring Festival holiday, and it’s even more difficult to find workers to stick the strips,” added Sun Aimin, a staff member who stood nearby.
On Jan. 24, the eve of the Spring Festival, Xiantao started to mobilize resources for the production of medical protective clothing across the city. After a comprehensive survey, it was found out that there were only 70 skilled workers who can stick the strips on medical protective clothing and only 40 machines for the job.
A skilled worker can only handle the strips of up to 200 medical protective clothes a day even at full capacity, a speed which is too slow for achieving the goal of a daily output of 30,000.
Under such circumstances, Hu Changwei, secretary of the Party committee of Pengchang town, Xiantao, who has been stationed in a local company for the production of medical protective clothing, braced himself to create conditions to achieve the production target.
Hu asked manufacturers of relevant equipment about information of the buyers, and then looked for skilled workers in relevant cities to stick strips on medical protective clothing. He called these workers, offering them three times the pay and inviting them to work in Xiantao.
Hu sent cars to pick up workers in other provinces, and finally invited more than 150 workers from provinces including central China’s Hunan Province, east China’s Jiangxi Province, and central China’s Henan Province.
At the same time, Hu organized training for over 200 local workers, and purchased more than 190 machines for sticking strips from cities including Jiangmen, Guangdong Province, through efforts of multiple parties.
Medical protective clothes are armors for medical workers. From cloth to finished products, each piece of these clothes involves as many as 20 manufacturing procedures. Every procedure must be carried out with special care, for even the slightest carelessness would ruin the clothes.
Winner Medical Group has sent more than 20 quality inspectors to Xiantao. Quality inspectors usually don’t drink much water, so as not to waste time by going to the toilet, disclosed Feng Dan, a quality inspector.
“Even a gap as small as a needle eye is not acceptable,” stressed Feng, who pays close attention to every piece of clothes in her hands.
With amazing sense of responsibility and unrelenting efforts, Xiantao created marvelous results. Since the city resumed production on Jan. 24, the eve of Spring Festival, it increased the daily production of protective clothing to 7,000 pieces on Jan. 29, to 15,000 by Feb.10 and to 30,000 on Feb. 8.
“At the thought of the doctors and nurses trying all out to save lives in ICUs, we know we must rise to the difficulties in production and provide armors for them, so that we can defeat the epidemic at an early date,” said Zhou, who disclosed that the biggest challenge for Xiantao is the current traffic restrictions for vehicles, as the city has to purchase raw materials from other provinces.

Photo taken on Feb. 8 shows workers busy with production of medical protective supplies in a workshop of a local company in Xiantao, central China’s Hubei Province. (Hou Linliang/People’s Daily)

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