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Macron to visit mask factory as French health workers complain of acute shortage

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French President Emmanuel Macron wearing a protective suit and a face mask visits the Kolmi-Hopen protective face masks factory, in Saint-Barthelemy-d'Anjou near Angers, France March 31, 2src2src.

French President Emmanuel Macron wearing a protective suit and a face mask visits the Kolmi-Hopen protective face masks factory, in Saint-Barthelemy-d’Anjou near Angers, France March 31, 2020. © Loic Venance / Reuters

France plans to quickly ramp up domestic production of face masks and respirators to respond to urgent needs of hospitals and caregivers during the coronavirus epidemic, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday. 

During a visit to a face mask factory, Macron said France needs at least 40 million face masks per week and that current domestic production and stocks were insufficient. 

The country’s factories would boost output and by end-April they should be able to produce 15 million face masks per week, he said. 

Macron also said that France has put together a consortium to build more ventilators. The group will be led by respirator maker Air Liquide and will also 

include car-parts maker Valeo, car maker PSA and Schneider Electric. 

According to the Directorate General of Health, France has a production capacity of six million masks per week.

Urgent need

Healthcare staff say they are in urgent need of FFP2 health masks at the country’s hospitals, where the death toll from the pandemic rose to more than 3,000 on Monday.

“The public authorities and all those involved in the national production network should join forces to provide the 15 million FFP2 masks we need every day,” wrote several doctors and other surgery personnel in a press release last week.

“Our country is counting on us to face this pandemic, but it is unacceptable to make us take ill-considered risks because under our coats, we are still human beings, as vulnerable as anyone else,” they added.

Several companies have already donated masks to the government.

French luxury label LVMH says it has ordered 40 million health masks from a Chinese supplier to help France cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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