CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: Middlemen export face-masks from Kenya to China

Chinese government can only produce 20 million masks per day, half of the needed amount.

In Summary

• As a way of reducing the deficit, enterprising middlemen are now turning to African nations where a relatively limited supply of masks are made.

• The virus has killed more than 2, 400 people and infected more than 78,000 others globally. Some 23,000 cases have recovered. 

Chinese wear face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
VIRUS FEARS: Chinese wear face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
Image: COURTESY

As coronavirus continues to spread in China, the stock for face masks and thermometer guns has declined.

To curb the low supply, Chinese customers are ordering face masks for export from Kenya and other African countries.

The virus has killed more than 2, 400 people and infected more than 78,000 others globally. Some 23,000 cases have recovered. 

 

But with the disease surging , the Chinese government only produce 20 million masks daily which is half of the needed amount.

According to Quartz Africa, Chinese customers who are based in Kilimani area in Nairobi are ordering these items for export.

The price of a 50-pack box of masks has skyrocketed from around Sh200 before the outbreak, to nearly Sh1000 in Kenya.

 “What will happen if corona comes to Kenya? There’s nothing left for us…” one of the shopkeepers said.

On Friday, the shop manager said they had increased factory hours from 24 hour-day, five-day week, to to six days a week.

 But by Saturday, the factory had run out of the cotton needed to produce the masks.

Merchants eager to get masks to China have also started to look to Tanzania to bridge the deficit that is hitting China.

One Kenyan trader said the masks from Tanzania have been delivered via informal border back roads in order to avoid tariffs.

Over the weekend, Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to lock all the international entry and exit to China to tame the coronavirus.

Odhiambo said no amount of business with China is worth the lives of Kenyans, hence the need to suspend anything to do with China at the moment.