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Gov't to maintain stockpiles of masks, quarantine goods

All News 10:48 April 14, 2020

SEOUL, April 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's government will maintain a sufficient stockpile of health and medical 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.

Medical workers examine their masks and other personal protective equipment before entering a hospital ward for coronavirus patients in Daegu, southeastern South Korea, on April 13, 2020. (Yonhap)

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 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; 48 kinds of materials, including calcium chloride for snow removal; and 29 rescue, first aid and medical quarantine groups are designated by the government among its disaster management resources.

ycm@yna.co.kr
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