The government of Azerbaijan has launched this week the local production of face masks as the next step to fight the global coronavirus pandemic.
Masks, which are all the rage these days, will be manufactured at a new facility in the Sumgait Chemical Industrial Park or SCIP, some 32 kilometers (20 miles) north from capital city of Baku.
Azerbaijan’s economy ministry allocated necessary area and gave a soft loan of 1.2 million Azerbaijani manats ($707,000) to the Baku Textile Fabric private company to launch the mask production unit. In addition, the company was granted a resident status, which allows benefiting from the privileges offered exclusively to the resident manufacturers of SCIP.
The new facility will reportedly churn out 120,000 pieces of medical face masks per day using raw material purchased from Turkey and certified to ISO international standards. The second production line at the unit is expected to go online in the upcoming days increasing the overall production volume to 200,000-250,000 masks per day.
“This production will allow us to be self-sufficient, and even after the end of the fight against coronavirus, Azerbaijan will no longer depend on imports,” President Ilham Aliyev said at the opening of the production unit, according to President.az.
“Our main goal is to prevent people from contracting this disease, to ensure people’s health, and all measures are being taken to achieve this.”
Director of the Baku Textile Fabric, Sakina Babayeva said the daily demand for medical masks in Azerbaijan is around 200,000-250,000 pieces. Masks of domestic production are expected to go on sale after a week, according to remarks made by Babayeva at the opening of the new mask-making facility on April 6.
“The selling price of the Azerbaijan-made masks will be announced in the next two days. The company plans to meet 30-40 percent of the daily demand for masks during the first 15 days,” she said, according to a report by Oxu.az.
In the meantime, the newly launched production facility will also churn out rubbing alcohol, disinfectants, sanitizers, and other products of the same line, bringing together six companies that are already producing sanitary and hygienic stuff. For the healthcare personnel, medical face shields will be produced at the facility, as well. The shields are expected to be made in 3D printers as part of the STEAM project, a state-run initiative that aims to improve the skills of schoolchildren in using cutting-edge technological devices.
Global demand for medical face masks started rising after the outbreak of novel coronavirus, referred to as 2019-nCoV or COVID-19, in China’s Hubei province in December last year. The same demand has skyrocketed following the spread of the deadly virus across more than 180 countries. Using a mask in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water, as well as its proper disposal makes it effective in healthcare, according to WHO.
The government in Azerbaijan adopted restrictive measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which has by far infected 822 and killed 8 in this country of ten million population.