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The Ministry of Health revealed to thisquality of facemasks not fully meeting appropriate specifications in terms of quality. However, this did not affect the national supply of facemasks.
“A quality assurance check showing some face masks used in the health sector don’t fully meet specifications won’t have any impact on national supply,” the Ministry of Health said.
DHB’s were advised to put their facemask type stocks on hold, as they did not meet the agreed standards for use in New Zealand’s healthcare settings.
“The Ministry is asking that all these face masks be withdrawn from use and has placed a hold on further ordering. Initial replacement stock of around four weeks supply has already been shipped to DHBs,” Sue Gordon, Deputy Chief Executive, COVID-19 Health System Response said.
The stock that is placed on hold will not affect the N95/P2 mask supplies in the health sector or put it at risk as a large supply of facemasks, and PPE consistently arrives regularly.
“The Ministry estimates that up to 600,000 of these masks are available in the health sector, many of which are held in reserve. Total usage of N95 face masks from the national stock is usually around 6000 masks a week,” Kelvin Watson, Group Manager – Testing, Immunisation and Supply said.
Testes were conducted of Duckbill N95/P2 particulate respirators made by QSi that were produced in 2018 and 2019. The masks were proved to protect the user wearing one as expected, but the standards to protect others from the person using the mask did not meet.
Further testing on the mask show it did provide some protection for preventing exhaled droplets passing through the mask. However, it was not applicable again for the settings New Zealand uses.
QSi is a New Zealand-based company that sources its materials for PPE equipment and gear from overseas — quality assurance processes are undertaken to ensure healthcare workers have access to the highest standard PPE equipment and gear that is safe to use.
The Ministry of Health will be collecting the affected facemasks from DHB’s during the New Year period.
The masks will not be going to waste according to the Ministry; they will be used for other settings like industrial use.
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