East Flemish company to produce 80 million surgical masks a year

A company based in the East Flemish town of Eeklo has started production of surgical masks. Ontex that produces personal hygiene products such as sanatory towels and nappies intends to produce 80 million surgical masks per annum and will play an important role in the fight against COVID-19. 

Ontex’s CEO Xavier Lambrecht told VRT News that “This is a big day for us. We needed around 100 days to get the production line ready and to commence sales".

It was a case of starting from zero and it was also something completely new for us”. The company has been specialised in health care products for the past 40 years. However, surgical masks must be made in a different way, Mr Lambrecht explained.

“All our products are made with the greatest of care. However, surgical masks must be produced in clinical environment in a so-called “clean room”. This is a sealed environment in order keep it hygienic and sterilised”. 

Shortages earlier this year

At the start of the coronavirus crisis demand for surgical masks far outstripped supply. There were a lot of issues with ordering masks from foreign suppliers and ensuring that they were delivered. There are now enough supplies available. However, the company believes that demand for the masks will remain high.

“Given the current situation we believe that there will always be a need for masks among the caring professions. These are produced in this country and not for example in China”.

Staff at Ontex have been given special training to work on the new production line. The company has also recruit 9 new staff.

The 80 million masks that will be produced annually are IIR masks. 


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