One of China's top oil and petrochemical companies, Sinopec, has launched two production lines for N95 respirators and surgical masks in response to a shortage created by the coronavirus epidemic,?

One of China's top oil and petrochemical companies, Sinopec, has launched two production lines for N95 respirators and surgical masks in response to a shortage created by the coronavirus epidemic, Shanghai Daily reports.

Sinopec will have to manufacture four tons of meltdown non-woven fabric to produce 1.2 million N29 respirators and 6 million surgical masks. These, the daily notes, are in critical short supply after the outbreak. The fabric is the filter layer in the middle of the masks and the respirators. Its fibers carry polarized charges that create a weak electric field, which attracts and absorbs dust, bacteria, and pollen.

As of today, the coronavirus that first made an appearance in Wuhan, China, had infected more than 110,000 people, with 3,830 of the cases ending with fatalities and 62,280 people making a recovery. There are still more than 43,900 active Covid-19 cases globally, according to Wordometer, of which 37,990 mild and 5,977 critical.

Meanwhile, the virus that ravaged the country, threw the world into panic, and pushed oil prices lower, seems to be abating. China official figures suggest a significant slowdown in the diagnosis of new cases, with only 99 new cases announced on Saturday, down from 2,000 a few weeks ago. The winning formula: wide-scale quarantines and severe travel restrictions.

This is what Italy is doing, now, too. The country, which is suffering the worst outbreak in Europe, has quarantined as many as 16 million people in cities across northern Italy in a bid to contain the disease.

The transport sector is already one of the hardest hit by the outbreak and, as a consequence, so was fuel demand in many parts of the world. However, in a surprising turn of events, Chinese customs data revealed that China's oil imports during January and February increased on the year, by 5.2 percent despite the outbreak, which by February had started affecting refinery run rates with some facilities closing down completely.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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