By Latrishka Thomas
“Every citizen will have masks to wear,” Minister of Health Molwyn Joseph said as he attempted to dispel rumours that the government is not adequately prepared to handle the Covid-19 crisis.
“[We] discourage any attempt to create anxiety in the society. We have personal protective equipment for doctors, our nurses, our law enforcement agencies, our EMS; all these individuals will be well-equipped when they have to deal with Covid cases or any situation involving Covid,” the minister stated.
He said that masks will be distributed to taxi drivers and bus operators in short order and he made sure to note that residents will not be forgotten.
“I’m working with the Minister of Trade and we are hoping within two weeks we will be able to produce enough masks in Antigua and Barbuda that every citizen will have masks to wear. And personally, as the Minister of Health, I’m hoping that within the next two weeks all Antiguans and Barbudans will be wearing a mask.”
Joseph said the biggest challenge, however, is compliance with the public health regulations.
“And so any attempt to make it look as if we are not prepared, should be absolutely debunked. The area we are challenged in … is the reckless behaviour of individuals, displayed since the declaration of the curfew last weekend. That is the problem,” he added.
Retailers all over the globe are running out of masks, and prices for masks sold by online retailers like Amazon have surged to hundreds of dollars.
China is the world’s largest producer of masks, with a reported daily capacity of 20 million pieces, but by the estimate of its manufacturers domestic demand alone is around 50 to 60 million per day.