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Innovative tailor shifts to making re-usable facemasks

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Innovative tailor shifts to making re-usable facemasks by Saocv(1): Thu 16, April, 2020 11:27pm
It's not all gloom in COVID-19 pandemic situation as local manufacturing capacity and inventiveness reawakens

By Martin Munyi/KNA

As the world battles the dreaded Coronavirus pandemic that has claimed thousands of lives, many countries, Kenya included, are faced with a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for medics and the general population.

The demand for the PPEs has prompted one innovative tailor in Nanyuki town to start mass production of facemasks to help meet the demand the country is faced with as it grapples with the increasing number of infections of Covid-19.

Peter Irungu 35, produces an average of 500 facemasks daily at his tailoring shop where he has suspended sewing other apparels such as suits and ladies’ dresses to try and meet the heavy demand for the protective gear.

“The demand is so high, especially from boda boda operators, market traders and also police officers, that is why we cannot afford to dwell on making other clothes apart from the facemasks right now,” Irungu said.

Irungu revealed that he acquired the facemask making skill at the Dedan Kimathi University of Science and Technology in Nyeri after he underwent a one-day training, a week ago, organized in partnership between the institution and the Laikipia County Government.

The training also saw 14 other tailors from Laikipia taught on how to prepare facemasks and other protective gear such as waterproof overalls and surgery aprons, usually worn by health workers handling patients with infectious diseases.

Irungu adds that together with his team of 20 tailors he trained, he is able to make an average of 500 facemasks daily, but still regrets that he still cannot be able to cope with the high demand for the protective gear in the area.

“People are lining up at my shop wishing to acquire the masks but sadly some have to wait for a day or two for their orders to be met. We hope to scale-up production to meet the high demand,” Irungu said.

The tailor further says that the masks made from soft canvas material he sources from garment shops in Nairobi can be washed daily using a disinfectant and dried normally in the sun or ironed for drying and can be re-used once dry.

“We are encouraging those buying these masks to acquire several so that they can have replacement when the other is being washed,” he adds.

Irungu adds that as a safety measure, all his workers sanitize themselves before starting work and also that that all the finished masks are soaked in disinfectant solution and dried before selling them to the public.

He further adds that unlike the common disposable masks that don’t last for more than two hours when worn, his can last for days due to the material used in making them.

While the effectiveness of the reusable facemasks in combating the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus is debatable, Irungu is keen on mass production, saying that it is his moral obligation to help Kenyans combat the spread of the virus.

“I am glad this training came at the right time when the country is struggling not just in fighting Covid-19 but also deficient in protective gear that can go a long way in minimizing new infections,” he says.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the N95 facemask, surgical mask, and the FFP1 mask are rated as the best in curbing the spread of viruses at 95 percent efficiency, but a cloth or sponge mask rate poorly at zero percent in virus protection.

Health Cabinet Secretary, Mutahi Kagwe, while giving his daily briefs on the Coronavirus pandemic on March 29, urged local manufacturers to venture into the production of PPEs in order to stem the shortfall the country is currently faced with.

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Sande Kennedy sandekennedy.com Email: info@sandekennedy.com Kenyan Politician interested in Programming, Entrepreneurship, Investing, Economics & Public Policy.
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