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Haiti making masks to fight COVID-19 pandemic

Apr '20
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock
To keep its textile industry afloat amid the economic shutdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Haiti has authorised the reopening of seven factories that will manufacture protective medical gear. Haiti is seeking a percentage of the garments for the country’s use from three such factories that already make washable hospital scrubs for the US market.

The other four factories will switch from sewing cotton T-shirts for the US market to making face masks for the domestic market, according to media reports from the region.

There is a growing concern about the novel coronavirus’ impact on the country’s fragile economy.

This independent push to make masks is reportedly an attempt in part by individual designers, non-profits and the boys and girls scouts to offer Haitians some level of protection in the fight against the virus.

The masks are made from cotton and are reusable; these are not the medical grade, snug-fitting N-95 disposable face masks that hospitals are so desperately seeking for healthcare workers. Their design is inspired by a California T-shirt maker.

In a March 20 letter sent to Haitian authorities, US company Superior Group of Companies that employs over 2,000 Haitian workers, argued that the government’s decision to shut down all factories was not helping the fight to combat COVID-19, but hurting it.

The company said the majority of its healthcare and protective apparel is manufactured in Haiti, putting the country on the front lines of “helping healthcare providers, governments and other private industries fight the COVID-19 virus that is now ravaging the entire world.”

It urged officials to allow the function of its Superior Sourcing factories on the Haitian-Dominican border in the city of Ouanaminthe and two other vendor partners in Port-au-Prince.

After a recent meeting with the Association of Haitian Industries and the American Chamber of Commerce in Haiti, as well as factory owners, Haiti’s government, agreed to let the factories operate, but with conditions.

Around 55,000 factory workers went out of work when Haitian President Jovenel Moïse announced on March 19 that all factories and schools would be closed from the next day.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)

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