Portuguese industry is producing a million masks every day with the supply of the internal market as a priority amid the Covid-19 pandemic but it is also starting to export, according to the minister of economy, while buying masks from a shop in Lisbon.
Pedro Siza Vieira went on Sunday to buy masks from a shopping centre to show what the new reality of the Portuguese citizens will be like, as they now have to have a mask to access public spaces, such as shops and transportation.
“Portugal can make more than one million a day and we will start making more reusable masks, that is, masks that, instead of having to wear them once and throw them away, can be washed, maintaining their protection capacity,” he said.
The minister stressed that Portuguese industry has mobilised a lot to increase production and this should soon lower the prices of this equipment and VAT will be cut to 6%, already approved in parliament.
“At the moment, Portuguese companies not only produce for the national market, but they are already starting to produce for export as well, and therefore I am convinced that, as we have more supply, the price will become more accessible,” he added when faced with current prices.
Siza Vieira highlighted that this export is already happening essentially to European countries and still in relatively small quantities.
The minister mentioned the mobilisation of a group of industry producers to comply with quality and safety standards and specifications defined by the Portuguese Authority for Medicament and Health Products (Infarmed), which pass through the certification of the Textile and Clothing Industry Technology Centre.
Siza Vieira stressed that many distribution channels of these materials will be at pharmacies, as well as food distribution, supermarkets and vending machines so that these goods are available as other products of regular and common use.
“What we are trying to ensure is that, in access to schools, teaching staff, non-teaching staff and pupils have access to masks made available by the state. The same thing happens for employees who lack these kinds of protective equipment in their daily activities: security forces health personnel, etc.,” he said.
The population in general, on the other hand, will have one more piece of equipment, or a clothing product available in supermarkets for daily use, he added.
Regarding alcohol-based hygiene products, the minister stressed that producers of alcoholic beverages and various types of disinfection materials have also reoriented their production to these products.
In Portugal, 1,023 people have died out of 25,190 confirmed to be infected, and there are 1,671 recovered cases, according to the health authority.
Worldwide, AFP said the Covid-19 pandemic has caused more than 243,000 deaths and has infected more than 3.4 million people in 195 countries and territories.