THE country’s garment exporters have committed to mass produce medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE) after the Holy Week for the use of frontline workers during efforts to contain the coronavirus disease (COVOD-19).
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, concurrent spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines (CONWEP) committed to produce at least 10,000 PPE sets a day.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said San Miguel Corp. will procure the initial 10,000 PPE coveralls and donate these to the Philippine General Hospital.
Nograles said the raw materials for the PPE sets are expected to be shipped into the country this week and the production to start after the Holy Week.
“Last week the DOH announced that there are 1,000,000 PPE available for our frontliners. Aside from these newly-procured PPE, the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) has announced that member-companies of the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines will now start the local production of medical-grade PPE coveralls for healthcare workers,” he said in mixed English and Filipino.
Nograles said that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the country is not a producer of medical-grade PPE, but it is now possible through the efforts of the DTI and the Bureau of Investments that coordinated with the private and health sectors to design and develop a medical-grade prototype of the PPE coveralls.
“After several tests by DOH and PGH, CONWEP refitted the design prototypes until these were approved by the DOH and PGH,” he added.
Tapped were CONWEP members which are producing ladies garments.
Nograles said the locally-produced PPE sets can be used even in high-risk hospital situations such as operating rooms, COVID-19 positive wards, and intensive care units.
Nograles said the country continues to receive donations of PPE sets and other medical emergency supplies from countries and foreign donors.
He said to ease the release of these items and continue to increase the supply in the country, the government has exempted the importation of PPE and other medical emergency supplies from tax and duties. He said the Bureau of Customs and Bureau of Internal Revenue have issued guidelines on the tax and duty-free importation of PPE and medical supplies.
Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., concurrent implementor of the National Action Plan on the COVID-19, said more PPE sets will arrive from China this week.
Galvez sad a Philippine C-130 is now in China to pick up 14,000 PPE sets while a special flight from the Philippine Airlines ad Cebu Pacific are set to pick up some 93,000 PPE sets this week, and these will be distributed in Luzon and 84,000 sets would be sent out to Visayas and Mindanao.
PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa has established a task force that will ensure supplies, including PPE sets, for policemen implementing the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
The task force, called Admin Support to COVID-19 Operations Task Force, is headed by PNP deputy chief for operations Lt. Gen. Camilo Cascolan.
The task force “is to see to it that all support needed by our men in the operation will be sustained,” said Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP deputy chief for operations and concurrent chief of the Joint Task Force Coronavirus Shield.
“The concern, welfare and morale of our policemen should be given focus. The support, logistics, medicine, protective equipment must be sustained,” Eleazar said, explaining the creation of Cascolan’s task force. — With Irma Isip and Victor Reyes