Gov’t to stockpile masks to avoid future shortage

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Gov’t to stockpile masks to avoid future shortage

Korea’s government will maintain a sufficient stockpile of face masks in preparation for future emergencies and disasters, the Minister of the Interior and Safety said Tuesday.

The government will also secure sufficient amounts of safety goggles, hand sanitizer, disinfectants, chemical protective clothing and infrared thermal cameras through systemic storage management and advance contracts with their manufacturers, the ministry said.

To that end, those quarantine goods will be newly designated among so-called disaster management resources in a soon-to-be revised administrative regulation, it noted.

The regulation revision is intended to prevent a shortage of protective masks and other quarantine goods for medical workers and other essential quarantine staff in the event of infectious disease disasters, like the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, it explained.

The planned inclusion of quarantine products as strategic items under state management has come after the Covid-19 outbreak caused a severe shortages of face masks, forcing the government to introduce a de facto rationing system for the product last month.

At that time, medical staff taking care of coronavirus patients and quarantine workers had also complained about shortages of masks and other protective equipment.

In order to prevent the recurrence of similar shortages, the central and local governments will annually establish their plans to stockpile masks and other quarantine goods or maintain advance supply contracts with their producers, the ministry said.

At present, 126 kinds of equipment, such as excavators and dump trucks and 48 kinds of materials, including calcium chloride for snow removal, are designated disaster management resources.

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