Myanmar & COVID-19

Myanmar Firms to Make Face Masks to Meet COVID-19 Demand

By Myo Pa Pa San 7 April 2020

Yangon — Businesses in Yangon are preparing to produce face masks as prices rise due to the coronavirus.

Two or three businesses in Shwelinpan Industrial Zone are preparing to produce masks and have ordered equipment and supplies from China, according to U Nay Lin Zin, the general secretary of Shwelinpan Industrial Zone management committee in Hlaing Tharyar Township.

“Mask-making machines cost around 110 million kyats [US$77,000] and can produce 100 masks per minute, so 6,000 per hour. A machine can produce around 120,000 if it operates for 20 hours per day,” he told The Irrawaddy.

The masks could be manufactured at clothing factories, he said.

“Previously, a mask cost around 25 kyats [2 cents], but now the prices have risen to 1,000 kyats [70 cents]. The prices will fall if we can produce masks domestically. We intend to supply the domestic market when imports are unavailable,” said U Nay Lin Zin.

Some industrialists in Shwepyithar Township are also reportedly preparing to produce masks at their factories.

Certain vitamin supplements such as immune boosters and hand sanitizers and disinfectant are out of stock or their prices have increased drastically.

The price of 10 surgical masks has increased from 450 kyats in early January to between 4,000 kyats and 6,000 kyats in April.

“I can no longer buy masks. And I can’t buy hospital-grade alcohol-based hand gel for my baby. [Pharmacies] said they are out of stock. Everything has to be imported,” said a resident of Tamwe Township, who did not want to be named.

“It is good that masks will be produced domestically. I want medicines and medical equipment produced domestically in the future. This pandemic is an example,” he added.

Myanmar imports up to 90 percent of its pharmaceuticals, mainly from China, India and Thailand.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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