DTI takes steps to address shortage of surgical masks

By: Irene R. Sino Cruz - CDN Digital | February 03,2020 - 10:56 AM

CEBU CITY—The lone producer of surgical masks in the Philippines has committed to increase their production to cope with the demand for their product.

In a statement posted on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Facebook page, Secretary Ramon Lopez said MedTecs, which is based in Bataan, has committed to supply the government, through the agency, 100,000 pieces of masks this week, and 400,000 pieces each week starting next week.

The secretary added that the company has committed to increase production of masks by acquiring more machines.

“They can commit to supply Philippines around 2 million pieces per month, until this quantity is needed. While they produce on a limited capacity (80,000 pieces per day), MedTecs is now airfreighting more machines to increase their production capacity,” Lopez said.

Read: DTI-7: More surgical masks coming

The company, which has been operating in the country for 41 years, has recently donated around 500,000 surgical masks for the victims of the Taal volcano phreatic eruption that were distributed through the local government units.

Also, DTI has tasked the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC), an attached agency of DTI, to start sourcing five million masks, to augment the local supply, especially the needs of the Department of Health (DOH) and other health workers, Lopez said.

However, as of Sunday morning, February 2, 2020, PITC found that suppliers from other countries also have limited stocks of N88 surgical mask, due to the surge in worldwide demand, he bared.

The secretary noted that DTI has been looking into the possibility of other manufacturing companies, both local and foreign, that have capability to extend their operations to producing masks.

He noted that they have requested the country’s major drugstores and wholesalers to increase their reordering quantities.

“As of last Friday, Watsons still had stocks and their inventories were deployed nationwide, while Mercury and SouthStar drugstores and most wholesalers ran out of stocks. They reported that there will be incoming stocks this week,” Lopez said.

The department continues to intensify its prices and supply monitoring activities to ensure that masks are sold within the price range of one peso to P8 per piece set by the DOH. DTI has found several price violations, especially by some wholesalers in Bambang, Manila, the secretary said.

“Offenders will be dealt with the fullest extent of the law,” Lopez said. “After issuance of Notices of Violations to 18 establishments, cases have now been filed to these stores.”

Cases have been filed against some wholesalers found to have committed price violations.

Consumers are enjoined to report to the DTI all retailers and suppliers selling overpriced masks by calling the One-DTI (1-384) Hotline or by sending an email to [email protected] /bmjo

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TAGS: 2019 - novel coronavirus, Cebu‬, coronavirus, DTI, n88, shortage, surgical masks

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