The government has ordered textile firms to speedily produce 30 million pieces of washable cloth face masks in the next month to give away in Bangkok metropolitan areas to combat chronic shortages.
The Industry Ministry acknowledged that textile firms should be able to produce 10 million cloth masks in one month based on their production capacity. The ministry expects to propose a budget to the cabinet to buy cloth masks from local factories next week.
Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said the ministry will negotiate with face mask and textile and garment companies to produce the cloth masks to supply the country because of complaints about shortages. “The ministry expects to give out 30 million masks or three masks per person for free,” he said. “In March, the government expects to give the masks for free to people in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces with 10 million masks initially.”
The government on Thursday held a meeting with government agencies, textile and garment companies, sewing factories, the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) and the Thailand Textile Institute to discuss the coronavirus outbreak. Somkid Jatusripitak, the deputy prime minister, has ordered garment and textile factories in Thailand to prepare materials to make facial masks to serve growing demand and overcome the shortages. Thailand makes about 500 million face masks per year, some 1-1.2 million pieces per day, or 36 million pieces per month from local companies. “The raw material to make the face masks is in short supply, and the government wants the public and private sectors to solve the problem,” Mr Somkid said.