They are one of the symbols of the coronavirus pandemic. And the humble surgical mask which retails for less than half a leu in normal times, was one of the first items to run out when the outbreak hit Romania.
Pharmacies and wholesalers announced their stocks were depleted after speculators bought them up in their thousands and then tried to flog them online for 100 lei apiece, or 200 times the regular price, in a classic case of price gouging.
Now a Romanian company is set to produce 150,000 masks a week, Economy Minister Virgil Popescu announced Thursday.
The unnamed private company is already producing hazmat suits, used by medics and ambulance workers when they come into contact with patients who have the highly contagious virus.
„We have spoken to a private company,” Popescu said at the start of Thursday’s government meeting. ” They are now manufacturing 1,000 hazmat suits a day.”
But from next week, after they get the equipment, they will produce 150,000 masks a day.”
„We are talking about licensed masks, because there are already a lot of private companies manufacturing masks, but not all the masks,” have been licensed.
Popescu said companies could produce up to half a million masks a day, meaning 15 million a month.