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S. Korea orders filter producer to offload inventory amid mask shortage


South Korea said Friday it has ordered one of the filter producers here to release its inventory as the country struggles to keep up the supply of protective masks amid the spread of the new coronavirus.

The order will add 4.4 tons of melt-blown nonwoven fabric filters into the market, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. The collected filters will be supplied to nine mask producers, which were on the verge of suspending their operations due to the shortage of materials.

The order came in line with the country's emergency policy implemented since last week, which allows the government to intervene into inventories and sales of filter producers.

All exports of masks and filters are banned under the policy as well.

The move is part of South Korea's efforts to expand local production of protective masks to 14 million sheets daily, up from the current 10 million.

South Korea has been making various efforts to speed up the production of materials as well, including renovating production facilities of diapers and tissues in the country to increase daily output of fabric filters.

South Korea plans to increase the production volume of filters to 27 tons by the end of April, up from the current 12.9 tons.

Starting Monday, South Korea adopted a de facto distribution system for protective masks, in which people can purchase two face masks per week from pharmacies on designated days of the week depending on their year of birth.

The nation's total infections reached 7,869 as of Thursday. (Yonhap)