Province of Manitoba Media Bulletin on Designed Masks
Media Bulletin - Manitoba
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April 11, 2020
MANITOBA GOVERNMENT SEEKS TO PRODUCE MANITOBA-DESIGNED MASKS
– – – Pursuing Made-in-Manitoba Solution to Enhance Protection for Front-Line Health-Care Providers: Friesen
The Manitoba government is looking to the local business community to produce a new Manitoba-designed mask to enhance the supply of the personal protective equipment for front-line health-care workers in the fight against COVID-19, Health Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen announced today.
“Our government’s number-one priority is the protection of our most vital service – our health-care system – by ensuring our health-care workers have the protection they need when caring for Manitobans,” said Friesen. “Medical experts right here in Manitoba have designed a new N95-type mask that is reusable and can provide the necessary protection our front-line workers need.”
A team of medical experts at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre, led by plastic surgeon Dr. Christian Petropolis, have developed a new type of mask that is reusable and as effective as other, commercially produced N95 masks. This new made-in-Manitoba mask has a silicone base and uses an N95 or higher grade filter.
“The mask has a similar design to that of industrial masks. It is a respirator made of moulded silicone and 3D printed components, and it accepts many available filters as well as a custom-designed reusable filter housing for an N95 or higher disk filter,” explained Petropolis, who is also the program training director for plastic surgery at the University of Manitoba. “The advantage of this design is its simplicity and flexibility. The small disk filter uses considerably less N95 material, the main component which has led to a worldwide mask shortage.”
The province is seeking submissions from local manufacturers who will be able to develop an accelerated process to scale the manufacture of these masks and begin production as soon as possible. To encourage the mobilization of local manufacturing, the Manitoba government is willing to sign purchase orders totalling up to $15 million to pre-order these innovative, made-in-Manitoba masks. A portion of these funds may be available in advance to supplement start-up costs.
“Manitoba is home to an incredible talent bank of innovative thinkers and producers within our manufacturing sector, and I know they will be ready and wanting to step up and help make this happen,” said Friesen. “With government, medical experts and business working together, we can beat this thing. I know that together we will continue to find ways to ensure our front-line workers have the protection they need to respond to this public health pandemic.”