Gov't starts production of 500,000 reusable face masks for COVID-19 frontliners

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 03 2020 11:55 AM

People line up to purchase face masks in Bambang, Manila on January 30, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA - The government has started production of 500,000 reusable face masks for workers on the frontlines in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Science and Technology said Wednesday.

Half of the face masks will be distributed to health workers, and authorities manning the checkpoints while the rest will be added to the government's inventory, DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said.

"The main beneficiary of the mass production of re-wearable reusable, washable mask is really the frontliners," he said in a virtual press briefing.

More tailors are needed to increase the production capacity of masks to 50,000 per week by the end of the month from the prevailing 10,000 per week, Dela Peña said.

The masks are produced in partnership with the Philippine Textile Research Institute and are made from cloth donated by private firms.

The DOST chief also assured the public that the facemasks comply with the necessary standards such as water repellency.

"We have made sure that it passes the requirements," he said.

The Philippines has been grappling with a face mask shortage, with the government purchasing most of the supply for the public health sector.

Filipinos are required to wear face masks as well whenever they are out in public.