WINNIPEG – The Manitoba government says it is willing to sign purchase orders worth up to $ 15 million for companies that can quickly make reusable masks because they continue to look for equipment to protect health care workers when they fight COVID-19.
Chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin and chief nurse Lanette Siragusa said at a press conference on Saturday that the government wanted local companies to make masks, which had been designed by a team of medical experts at the Winnipeg Health Sciences Center.
The province says the mask has a silicone base and uses an N95 filter or higher.
Plastic surgeon Dr. Christian Petropolis, who led the design team, said in a news release that the small disk filter uses far less N95 material, a major component that is causing mask shortages worldwide.
Siragusa said that last week in particular was a “wake-up call” for Manitoba because like other jurisdictions around the world, it was trying to get adequate protective equipment.
He said the province wanted to break away from relying on outside sources for equipment.
“As much as possible we want a solution made by Manitoba. “I just think it’s our best bet to get through the weeks and months ahead,” he said.
The province said a portion of $ 15 million might be available in advance to add to the initial costs.
Siragusa said the lack of protective equipment had forced non-urgent elective operation delays, and had also caused changes in diagnostic procedures.
The province said reusable masks were as effective as commercially available N95 masks.
“One thing that never changes and is always the main concern in every conversation is the importance of ensuring that our staff are safe,” said Sigursa.
Manitoba said on Saturday that they had confirmed 226 suspected cases of COVID-19. Four people in the province were killed.
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