The government of Kenya has banned the export of face masks, in a move that is aimed at ensuring that when the Coronavirus hits Kenya, the country will be well prepared.
With the coronavirus spreading like wildfire across the world, with over 58 countries confirming cases of the virus, the demand for face masks and gloves has skyrocketed.
In China, the stock for face masks and other protective clothing has declined and to curb the low supply, Chinese customers are now ordering face masks for export from Kenya and other African countries.
Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) chief executive officer Jonah Manjari said on Monday, 2nd March 2020, that the government had banned local manufacturers and distributors from exporting N95 AND 3 ply surgical masks “to ensure that the country has enough stock as part of its emergency plan.”
With the virus spreading, reports indicate that the Chinese government can only produce 20 million masks per day, which is only half of the needed amount.
According to manufacturers and distributors of the face masks, the price of a 50-pack box of masks has shot up from around 200 shillings before the coronavirus outbreak, to nearly 1000 shillings in Kenya.
Data from health organizations around the world say that the virus has infected more than 89,000 people across 58 countries, killing over 3,000.
Kemsa has said that the government has placed orders for emergency materials and medicine that the country would require in the wake of a coronavirus outbreak.
The ban comes days after President Uhuru gave an executive order that set up a National Emergency Response Committee which would guide Kenya’s preparedness for the coronavirus.
Dr. Manjari revealed that Kemsa had also been given the types of masks to procure, the protective gear, and the number of beds to procure, and medicines to treat symptomatic conditions— these are products to treat fever, pneumonia and oxygen-for those who require to be put in ICU.