Coronavirus protective gear output rises

A worker at Rivatex East Africa in Eldoret
A worker at Rivatex East Africa in Eldoret. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Local textile manufacturers have stepped up production of personal protective equipment (PPE) as demand surges and efforts to battle the spread of the coronavirus intensify.

Eldoret-based Rivatex East Africa and Kitui County Textile Centre (Kicotec) have started the mass production of face masks to feed the local market.

This comes days after the government announced it would work with the local textile and clothing sector to manufacture PPE amid a biting shortage in the country.

“Kicotec has the capacity to make thousands of masks per day,” said Kitui governor Charity Ngilu in a tweet.

Kicotec is producing face masks, whose samples it will present to the Ministry of Health and the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) for approval and subsequent orders.


Industrialisation PS Betty Maina said manufacturing of PPE locally will make the country self reliant and cut over-reliance on imported products.

“Lookslikeavido” fashion designer David Avido is among those who have been crafting face masks. He has been making hundreds from the colourful scrap fabrics.

Kenya coronavirus cases rose to 81 yesterday, triggering a surge in demand protective gear as awareness on spread of the virus takes centerstage.

Covid-19 spreads through droplets from coughs and sneezes and fears of infection have sent people rushing to pharmacies for face masks.

In the days before the first case was confirmed in Kenya, the government banned the export of respirator masks in measures to cushion the country against a possible shortage.

At the time, local dealers had stepped up exports of the masks to China where demand had outstripped supplies, sparking a surge in prices.

Kenya’s sole factory and distributors Nairobi Enterprises Limited has over the recent past scrambled to fill orders from hospitals and pharmacies.

The virus, which first appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has killed more than 39,000 people and infected over 800,000 people globally.