By Demion McTair. Updated 6:08 p.m., Saturday, 4 April 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4)
Kingstown (ON SVG) – The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is budgeting for 300,000 medical face masks as the country further prepares to tackle Covid-19, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said Friday on the state-owned National Broadcasting Corporation – NBC Radio.
Referring to the upcoming supplementary estimates, the Prime Minister said “In the budget, we are making provision for approximately 300,000 masks”.
“Now, we may not get there”, the Prime Minister said. He however, said that the surveillance and containment of Covid-19 is costly, but his government is concerned about the health and safety of Vincentians.
The 300,000 masks being aimed for are in addition to a promised 40,000 masks from Taiwan.
Dr. Gonsalves said the Taiwanese Ambassador called him and updated him that 40,000 surgical and N95 masks are coming and an Infrared facility to test temperatures which is more sophisticated that the small ones used to test temperatures.
“I asked him when, because that’s an important question…. He doesn’t know precisely when” – Dr. Gonsalves said.
LOCAL ENTREPRENEURS ENCOURAGED TO PRODUCE MEDICAL FACE MASKS
Meanwhile, at another press conference later on Friday with the Ministry of Health, the Prime Minister said “there is an opportunity for a cottage industry” where local production of masks is concerned.
“The received wisdom first because the health professionals internationally didn’t want anybody to buy up all the masks, they raised questions, but now they are saying its not so bad to have the masks but you have to know how to use them” – Dr. Gonsalves said.
“Talk to the Ministry of Health and design them properly, that is a nice cottage industry” – Dr. Gonsalves added.
The Prime Minister said “if you want some money for that, apply to PRYME, there is money there available, and if you’re older than 40, we have also a window where you can get money from too. Let us be creative and let all of us do this thing together.
According to the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning, Sustainable Development and Information Technology, PRYME, the acronym for Promoting Youth Micro Enterprises, is aimed at empowerment of young people, alleviation of poverty, enablement of entrepreneurship and the creation of new businesses.
The program is designed for people under the age of 40.