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Sri Lanka apparel firms face uphill battle to make Coronavirus masks, million safety suites

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s apparel sector has turned their factories to make mask and protective equipment for frontline workers who are fighting against Coronavirus, though tight controls are making it difficult to keep factories running.

In many countries, personal protective equipment are in short supply.

“At the moment the industry is making one million pieces of safety suites through JAAF for the people who are working frontline in the coronavirus treatments…” Rehan Lakhany, Sri Lanka Apparels Exporters Association President (SLAEA) told EconomyNext.

“We are also, through SLAEA are making two million masks to be handed over to state pharmaceutical corporations free of charge.”

However, the production had been halted after police asked some factories to close and workers were not allowed to report to work at others.

The industry is awaiting a response from the government.

The fabric for mask production had been donated by Teejay Lanka, a local knitted fabric manufacture, while the HDPE polythene to produce coverall protective suites were donated by PolyPack, a Sri Lankan plastic products maker.

“We are deeply grateful to Teejay Lanka in coming forward to donate the fabric needed for this,” Lakhany said.

“In addition, a number of factories are working with the government to supply in a number of protective coverall garments made out of HDPE polythene, again being provided free of charge to the Government for use in state hospitals.

“The raw material for this project has been donated Polypack.”

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However, the industry is not looking at exporting at the moment due to workforce shortages meanwhile the government tightens its Island wide curfew.

“For exports, we have not looked at because we don’t have any workers coming into the factory,” Lakhany said. (Colombo/Mar29/2020-sb)

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