Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has called on manufacturers to ramp up production of medical equipment needed to control the coronavirus outbreak.

Li — who is the second-most powerful man in China — said it was important to “make every minute count,” according to a government press release Sunday.

“Manufacturers are like military contractors producing the ‘arsenal’ in this battle against the epidemic,” Li said.

Li warned that getting daily necessities could become more challenging, and stressed the need to keep supply chains open to ensure groceries are available for the public.

Previously, Li asked the European Union to help China procure medical supplies, according to a Chinese government statement.

What’s the background?

China is facing a public health care crisis. Patients, medical staff and experts have told of delays in testing for the virus, in informing the public the true nature of the virus’ spread, and of an already overburdened health system creaking under the enormous weight of a rapidly expanding outbreak.

People in Wuhan have told CNN that some hospitals have run out of the test kits needed to diagnose patients with coronavirus.

Wuhan health authorities have acknowledged that hospitals are overwhelmed, and the city is building two more hospitals within days.

A doctor puts on a protective suit before entering the isolation ward at a hospital in Wuhan on January 30, 2020.
A doctor puts on a protective suit before entering the isolation ward at a hospital in Wuhan on January 30, 2020. (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)