With the reopening of certain provinces, where is the PPE supply chain in Canada?

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TORONTO –
Efforts across the country and abroad are helping Canada develop a stable supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) needed during the COVID-19 pandemic, federal officials said on Sunday.

Purchasing PPE has been a major challenge for the government during the pandemic, as many countries outbid and compete for access to a limited supply of masks, respirators and other items.

The situation in China, where a large part of the world supply of PPE is manufactured, has been compared to the “Wild West”, the chartered planes being returned and sent home after a higher offer for the supplies they had to transport . Last month, this affected two flights organized by the Canadian government.

This is important not only because health care workers and others exposed to COVID-19 patients need protection against the disease, but because an adequate supply of PPE is a key factor in plans. reopening of closed parts of society – and some provinces are ready to move before the reopening.

“As we open up and get more and more transmission, potentially … we have to make sure that when the patients start coming to the hospitals and we start to see a new push, this PPE is always available”, Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist from St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamliton, Ontario, told CTV News Channel on Sunday.

Speaking at a distance Sunday at a press conference in Ottawa, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Anita Anand, said that Canada’s ability to withdraw PPE from China has improved significantly since the era when empty planes left the country. She noted that there were “flights arriving almost every day this week,” including the Friday evening arrival of the world’s largest cargo aircraft.

“In a competitive environment, our dedicated field team in China ensures that supplies enter the warehouse and return to the aircraft in Canada,” said Anand.

As the government finds its place in obtaining PPE from China, domestic manufacturers are reorganizing their factories to produce the necessary equipment, making Canada less dependent on imports.

Reagents, the chemicals used in the treatment of COVID-19 tests, are an example. At the very beginning of the pandemic, Canada faced a delay in carrying out its tests due to a shortage amidst strong global demand for reagents. Now New Brunswick-based LuminUltra is capable of producing enough reagents to handle a load of 500,000 tests per month until next year.

Anand detailed several contracts the government has signed with Canadian manufacturers, saying that an agreement with Medicom provides 80 million surgical masks per year over the next 10 years in the company’s factories in Quebec, as well as 20 million N95 respirators.

Another Quebec manufacturer, Logistik Unicorp, has pledged to produce 11 million gowns, said Anand, while Sterling Industries of Ontario and the Canadian subsidiary of Hewlett Packard will manufacture 15.5 million visors.

Signing contracts is only the first step, however. According to government figures, Canada has ordered more than 52 million face masks, hundreds of millions of masks, and more than a billion pairs of gloves, although only a small fraction of these supplies have been received.

To ease the transition from order to purchase, the government has created what it calls the COVID-19 Supply Council, which advises the government on how to create supply chains that can meet Canada’s demands, now and in the future, including if the pandemic worsens. Its members include many from business, manufacturing and transportation, as well as representatives from groups such as the Canadian Pharmacists Association and the Canadian Red Cross.

“From manufacturing to arrival or production in Canada, what can we do differently to ensure we have adequate, effective and efficient supplies in our government and across the country?” Said Anand.

“This is a supply like never before. “

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