31 Mar 2020

Getting local companies to help make Covid-19 personal protective equipment

5:58 pm on 31 March 2020

Two separate registers for local companies that could help make personal protective equipment have been set up today.

Pharmacies remain open during the lockdown. Mt Wellington, Auckland.

A pharmacy worker wearing a facemask, a form of personal protective equipment (PPE). Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Health workers have expressed alarm at lack of access to personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks, gowns and hand sanitiser.

Industry group Manufacturing New Zealand said the idea was to boost production to keep health workers safe from Covid-19.

At the same time, McGuinness Institute thinktank has set up a website with a register, to help in case the national pandemic supplies of PPE were not enough.

Manufacturing New Zealand executive director Catherine Beard said: "The government was keen to get better visibility of what manufacturing capability we have in New Zealand to produce PPE, so we've provided this clear list.

"Some of them will be already manufacturing in this PPE area, but some will be doing other things but can tweak their manufacturing."

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

Seventy businesses were on the register and more would be added daily as companies self-assessed what they could offer.

The register gave businesses more chance to link up with each other to make masks, gowns or even ventilators, and gave the government and health workers a better idea of who could do what, Beard said.

See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19

"Not all businesses listed will necessarily be classified as essential businesses and if they are not they will need to address that with MBIE."

Manufacturers can text 'PPE' to 313 to get the link to register.

MacGuinness institute chief executive Wendy McGuinness said "We have provided a list of over 30 products, including PPE, that might be required if self-isolation doesn't work.

"It is important to elevate the ... healthcare system's capacity to cope with increased demand on its resources."

The Ministry of Health has had businessman Rob Fyfe trying to link up companies to combat Covid-19 since last Monday.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs