Feature: New Egypt-China venture contributes to Egypt's fight against COVID-19 by easing shortage of face masks

Source: Xinhua| 2020-04-16 03:22:32|Editor: Wang Yamei
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Hu Xiaojun (R), general manager of Ningbo A Plus Import and Export Co., Ltd, instructs a worker to produce medical face masks in a factory in Cairo, Egypt, on April 14, 2020. Inside a vast factory in the free industrial zone of Cairo, Egyptian workers are working day and night to run five advanced machines brought from China to produce up to 750,000 medical face masks per day. (Xinhua/Wu Huiwo)

CAIRO, April 15 (Xinhua) -- Inside a vast factory in the free industrial zone of the Egyptian capital Cairo, Egyptian workers are working day and night to run five advanced machines brought from China to produce up to 750,000 medical face masks per day.

Inaugurated last week, the joint Egypt-China plant contributes greatly to Egypt's fight against the raging COVID-19 pandemic by easing the shortage of medical face masks.

The venture, formed by Egypt's Euromed for Medical Industries and China's Ningbo A Plus Import and Export Co., Ltd, targets a daily production capacity of 1.5 million high quality surgical face masks when another five machines are brought from China by next month.

"In this fruitful cooperation, we combine our convenient venue, licenses and capabilities with the Chinese technology and very advanced machines to produce a high quality product that would help the world amid the novel coronavirus crisis," Euromed Executive Manager Omar Abdou told Xinhua.

"Our production aims to meet the needs of the Egyptian and Chinese markets and to assist other countries with massive growth of COVID-19 infections," he added.

Euromed has been producing medical supplies including syringes, IV cannulas, burettes, catheters and other medical products since 2004. With the new production lines of face masks, Abdou hopes to compete in the international market even after the COVID-19 crisis is over.

The Egypt-China venture is expected to more than double Egypt's production capacity of disposable face masks.

It will provide the Egyptian government with face masks at a price much lower than those in the global market, so to support its efforts in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, Abdou said.

"Profit is not the main purpose of this joint project, but it seeks to assist Egypt, China and the whole world amid this global crisis," said the Euromed manager.

The five machines have been operating nonstop since the plant was inaugurated last week.

"We target to set up 10 production lines here. Five have already been installed, one is on the way and four others are still waiting for delivery," said Hu Xiaojun, general manager of Ningbo A Plus Import and Export Co., Ltd.

The Chinese company provides funding, production equipment and auxiliary materials such as nose wires and earloops, while the Egyptian side is responsible for providing the production site, purchasing some raw materials and recruiting workers, Hu explained.

The surgical face mask has three layers, including the anti-blood penetration nonwoven fabric, the composite meltblown fabric, and the nonwoven fabric, which can effectively prevent virus and safeguard the health of medical staff in treating coronavirus patients.

"Our masks are produced in accordance with the European Union's standards and have obtained the CE-mark from Germany's Medical Device Safety Service (MDSS) that certifies its compliance with all requirements of the EU market," Hu said, stressing that his company "values the high quality the most."

The Chinese manager expressed the hope that the joint venture would also contribute to COVID-19 prevention and control in Africa and the whole world.

He mentioned that Egypt's strategic location at the junction of Africa, Asia and Europe and its free trade agreements with the African Union and the EU would promote exports of the plant's products in the near future.

The plant adopts a 24/7 work policy, dividing the day into three shifts, with at least 40-50 workers for each in addition to an engineer and a technician.

Bassem Khalafallah, director of Euromed Engineering Department and manager of the face masks plant, said that it was a big challenge to train the engineers and workers to run the plant with the Chinese-made high-tech machines in a very short time.

"A Chinese team should be here to help us run the factory but they couldn't come due to Egypt's suspension of international flights. So, we installed the production lines ourselves, but the Chinese engineers helped us a lot during the process via video calls," Khalafallah told Xinhua.

Ahmed Gamal, a 26-year-old Egyptian worker, said that he has been working for Euromed's syringe factory for three years before he moved last week to the new plant.

"It is a new and exciting experience for me, and it is a plus for my career because the plant uses the latest technology in the medical face masks industry," Gamal told Xinhua.

"I also feel that I'm contributing to helping people fight COVID-19 disease, which is really a good feeling that pushes me to work harder," he said.

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