Covid-19:UNBS issues required standards for importers of facemasks

Coronavirus outbreak

The Uganda National Bureau of Standards has issued the required standards to be met by importers of facemasks into the country.

President Museveni recently directed that everyone will be required to wear facemask while in the public arena.

However, in a public notice, UNBS Executive Director, Dr.Ben Manyindo told traders that there are specifications that will be required of them to follow while importing facemasks.

“Uganda National Bureau of Standards wishes to inform all importers that enforcement of the mandatory facemask and respiratory protective devices standards shall be applicable to all shipments with Bill of Lading date June, 8, 2020 and thereafter. Importers are duly advised to communicate this to their suppliers and value chain partners,” the notice by UNBS boss, Ben Manyindo says.

UNBS says non- medical facemasks should have specification US 2552:2020 whereas the medical facemasks should have requirements and test methods including US EN 14683:2019 + AC:2019.

The standards body says the specifications should be followed by importers.

The latest move by Uganda National Bureau of Standards is meant to stop the importation of substandard facemasks, many of which are currently flooded in the Ugandan market.

Background

President Museveni earlier this month pegged the lifting of the countrywide lockdown on the mandatory wearing of facemasks by everyone.

“Put your mask on when in public to avoid contaminating the air and spreading disease to others, especially now that we are dealing with a disease that spreads so fast. Even when you are speaking, leave the mask on because if you remove and speak, you are infecting the air. Also, the hands you are fidgeting with while removing the mask can bring the infection,” the president said.

Museveni added: “People seem not to understand the value of these masks. These are not a decoration. We don’t want you to be seen with the mask hanging around your neck.”

The Ministry of Health last week issued guidelines to be followed while wearing facemasks.

“The medical masks include; N95, KN95 and surgical masks whereas the non-medical masks are made out of fabric (cloth). Medical masks should be preserved for health workers in health facilities and are not reusable. Since it is used in a hospital environment, it is highly contaminated by various infectious organisms and its reuse is risky,” the Minister for Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng said.

“The community is encouraged to use non-medical masks (masks made out of fabrics e.g. cotton masks.”

“The community is encouraged to use non-medical masks (masks made out of fabrics e.g. cotton masks.”

The Minister explained the non-medical mask is a two layer cotton mask with a filter material like paper towel or coffee filter or polypropylene (the material often used for non-plastic shopping bags placed between the 2 layers to improve the mask).

She said this material acts as a filter and can be removed before washing.

“Polypropylene is washable and reusable, she added.

The minister added that when a double cloth mask is used with a filter inside, its protectiveness is over 95%.

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