Video: Factories rush to meet demand for rubbing alcohol and masks

  • 12 February, 2020
  • John Van Trieste
Factories making rubbing alcohol and surgical masks rush to keep up with soaring demand.

The ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus disease Covid-19 has delivered a blow to many businesses. But producers of two products- rubbing alcohol and surgical masks- are busier than ever amid soaring demand.

On an ordinary day, the Pingtung Distillery in southern Taiwan would be welcoming tourists come to sample its sorghum liquor and rice wine, or perhaps take part in its do-it-yourself cocktail experience.

But there haven’t been many ordinary days at the distillery lately, at least not since the outbreak of the coronavirus disease Covid-19 began. In addition to liquor, this distillery also makes rubbing alcohol, a product in high demand and short supply these days. Rubbing alcohol production is in overdrive, with distillery workers working through weekends and holidays alike.

On Monday, a long line formed outside the factory, as the distillery announced it planned to send out shipments of 95% alcohol to stores. Still, many people are unable to get their hands on even one bottle, and there are concerns about possible hoarding of supplies.

A surgical mask factory in the southern city of Kaohsiung is also seeing an unusually brisk demand for its products. It is working overtime to churn out child-sized masks, and even though they aren’t medical grade, there is no shortage of people lining up to get them.

Until the outbreak subsides, “normal” is a word that probably won’t be used much in factories making medical supplies like these.


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