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Cape Union Mart's K-Way factory turns into a mask-producing machine

Written by: Barbara Friedman

Masks are in constant shortage the world over as the spread of Covid-19 increases.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) South Africa's own NICD and other health bodies globally are shifting from the directive for only those who have Covid-19 and health workers to wear masks.

It now says everyone should wear masks when out shopping in contact with others.

The directive is to wear cloth masks and not the N-95 and medical masks reserved for medical and health care workers.

Refilwe Moloto speaks to the chair of Cape Union Mart, Phillip Krawitz, who will be opening their Ottery K-Way factory in order to make face masks. They have already confirmed an order for 30,000 masks.

The whole world is learning and there seems to be conclusive evidence that cloth masks do help. They help prevent spreading the infection and they prevent you from spreading it to anyone else, and there seems to be very good empirical evidence on that score.

Phillip Krawitz, Chairperson - Cape Union Mart

RELATED: Czech Republic message: Masks' partial protection is better than nothing

Krawitz says upon hearing that new information and receiving inquiries on whether Cape Union Mart could make masks, the company acted quickly.

So 1,2, 3 thanks to our outstanding management team of dedicated people, we immediately decided to reopen out K-Way factory, to start making masks.

Phillip Krawitz, Chairperson - Cape Union Mart

We got patterns in immediately, we got information from Stellenbosch University, and we set about making these masks and we are now in full production.

Phillip Krawitz, Chairperson - Cape Union Mart

The business has over 300 stores that are all closed during the lockdown.

But he says they have promoted excellent online special offers and received an enormous amount of orders.

The day the lockdown ends we will be ready to dispatch the goods and look after our customers,

Phillip Krawitz, Chairperson - Cape Union Mart

The factory has been set up for social distancing with space between the machines and all the sanitising and temperature check measures in place.

This too shall pass, and we have to look beyond the tragedy of this crisis to the future...People have died from coronavirus which is tragic, but my concern is that we don't have people dying of starvation as jobs are lost and people are going hungry.

Phillip Krawitz, Chairperson - Cape Union Mart

We've got to try and create jobs. We've got to try and keep people employed. We've got to try and get wages to the poorest, we've got to try and get food to them because that is really our biggest priority in South Africa.

Phillip Krawitz, Chairperson - Cape Union Mart

Listen to the interview below:

The K-Way factory manager explained to CapeTalk how the insert is specially designed to filter out virus-carrying saliva molecules. This has been tested at Stellenbosch University. All the technical information and care instructions were received from Brits on Monday afternoon.

I'm very happy with this outcome. We still tweaking a few things but almost ready to go full steam ahead.

Bobby Fairmlamb, Manager - K-Way factory

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Cape Union Mart's K-Way factory turns into a mask-producing machine




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