Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up.
Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming weeks and months.
“Our frontline health care workers are doing incredibly important work on behalf of all New Zealanders. It’s vital they have access to the gear they need to stay safe,” Dr David Clark said.
“Over the next month, the Ministry of Health will be supplying 4 million masks to the health sector and a further 4 million masks to non-health sector essential workers.
“Current demand for PPE is unprecedented but we have good stocks. We currently have more than 18 million masks in the national reserve held by the Ministry of Health and another 5.1 million held across DHBs, with more on order from local and overseas manufacturers.
“We also have 1.9 million aprons and gowns, 2.7 million pairs of gloves and 60,000 eye protection stock.
“Helpfully, we have a local face mask producer based in Whanganui that makes medical grade facemasks and is ramping up its production.
“Currently it’s producing at least 80,000 masks a day (including both high level N95 masks and general surgical masks). With new machinery due in coming weeks and months it will be able to double production.
“Making sure all personal protective equipment is distributed to those who need it is the key. To help with that, we’re bringing in outside logistical support to manage distribution to essential service outside the health sector.
“Face masks and other PPE are vital tools for our doctors, nurses and midwives, and other essential workers at this time. These workers deserve all the support and thanks we can give them.
“The best thing we can all do is stay safe at home and limit the potential for COVID-19 to spread. We’ve all got a part to play to combat COVID-19,” David Clark said.