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HomeWeekly RoundupCOVID-19 causing a run on medical masks protecting against TB

COVID-19 causing a run on medical masks protecting against TB

A shortage of medical masks used to protect healthcare workers in South Africa against tuberculosis (TB) could run out in the next six months because of the high demand brought on by the coronavirus outbreak. News24 reports that the mask most effective at protecting Chinese healthcare workers from contracting the virus, however, is also the only mask used to protect healthcare workers in South Africa from TB – a spike in global demand for the product is outstripping manufacturers' ability to produce the masks here and abroad.

Currently, the World Health Organisation says there is a six-month backlog in mask orders globally. Already behind in production, manufacturers are unlikely to be able to catch up as long as the outbreak rages and future orders of the masks could be delayed or only partially filled. The report says either way, countries like South Africa that need the masks for TB are unlikely to get what they need when they need it.

In South Africa, the masks are procured nationally and also provincially. National health department spokesperson Popo Maja confirms the department is experiencing delays on shipments of respirator masks. He attributes delays to major mask-producing countries such as India and China banning exports of the protective gear to secure their own national supplies. South Africa's few local producers of the speciality masks, he warns, cannot immediately supply increased numbers of the masks.

The report says the national Health Department was unable to confirm whether or not any provinces were experiencing shortages.

[link url="https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/south-africa-could-face-tb-mask-shortage-because-of-coronavirus-outbreak-20200221"]Full News24 report[/link]

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