The Israeli Ministry of Defense on Sunday said that a new production line in Sderot would make up to two million N95 masks per month, as Israel prepares for another round of an outbreak of COVID-19 infections.
Israel emerged from over six weeks of lockdown – at times partial, at times, full – in mid-May and has fared relatively well with nearly 18,000 confirmed infections and close to 300 deaths. But the country has seen small outbreaks, specifically in schools, and government authorities have urged Israelis to adhere to social distancing and mask-wearing rules in public spaces.
“The State of Israel is fighting a virus that threatens and takes human lives. We are preparing for a second wave of the virus,” Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a statement.
The Directorate of Production and Procurement (DOPP) at the Ministry of Defense has been in charge in recent months of the procurement of medical supplies and devices in the fight against the coronavirus. For this initiative, several mask production machines were brought from China to Israel as well as a specific machine to produce millions of N95 masks. The masks have a filtering capacity of 95 percent and are used by medical teams.
The ministry says it has led a strategic campaign to transfer the production of essential medical equipment to Israel (including ventilators, masks, and protective gear).
“The goal is to minimize the dependence of Israel on the import of equipment, and also to prepare for a second wave of morbidity,” the statement read.
“I commend the important activities of the procurement directorate and of the entire Ministry of Defense, which encourages ‘blue and white’ [local] production. This activity removes our dependence on foreign factors, contributes to the Israeli economy during a difficult period, and also provides employment opportunities for the residents of the south,” Gantz said.