Quebec’s government and hospitals now hold a reserve of nearly half a billion procedural masks, according to an internal document obtained by The newspaper. But the reserve of the famous N95 masks is very far from being so full.
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The government is still only 42% away from its goal of having a supply of N95 masks sufficient for six months.
Health institutions currently have 1.4 million, according to the table released to the various unions of health workers, which was sent to the Newspaper.
With around 375 million gloves, the 24-week reserve target was 60% met, as of December 18. This is the target the province has set for itself.
Without the union document, the reservations would have remained a secret to the citizens.
The government refused to reveal its stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) against COVID-19, as it had done at a press conference in the spring, citing industrial secrecy.
The access to information request of the Newspaper was refused by the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS), claiming that it is “information having an impact on the economy”.
The government’s silence on its stocks, while the second wave of the pandemic is hitting Quebec hospitals hard, is disappointing the opposition parties.
“It is their responsibility to reassure the population and health workers about the level of reserves,” said Liberal Party health critic Marie Montpetit.
For Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, of Quebec solidaire, it is about “another lack of transparency which is added to a long list”.
The lack of supplies of N95 masks could become a long-term problem for the government, according to Roxane Borgès Da Silva, professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Montreal.
Not only are more network workers, such as nurses and patient attendants, claiming it, but the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec could also recommend it if it recognizes the transmission of the virus by aerosol.
However, the building reserve for 24 weeks is based on current use.
In the spring, the health network used 20,000 N95 masks per day, against 550,000 procedural masks.
The N95 contains one particulate inhalation filter, while the other only provides a droplet barrier.
In a statement issued in mid-December, the government said it has spent around $ 3 billion to provide PPE since March 2020.
– With the collaboration of Eric Yvan Lemay
- 444 million procedure masks
- 1.4 million of N95 masks
- 375 million gloves
- 51.6 million blouses
- 6.3 million swabs
- The MSSS says it makes deliveries 2 times per week to establishments, according to their request.
- It has 5 warehouses which represent in total 600,000 square feet.