Minister of Trade and Industry Nevine Gamea announced on Wednesday that her ministry has agreed on the immediate start of cloth face mask manufacturing with textile and garment industry representatives.
Also present at the meeting were representatives from the Ministry of Health and the unified procurement authority, who took part in the discussions to managing general access to face masks.
She said the move comes to fulfil the requests by the Ministries of Education and Higher Education to make them available to students who will be sitting end-of-year exams.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry is keen to provide citizens with high quality fabric face masks at an appropriate price, Gamea said. She noted that the masks will be provided to all citizens as the country gradually opens up for some activities while coexisting with the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Osama Koshary, a member of the Medical Supplies Division at the Cairo Chamber of Commerce, has said in televised remarks that a decision was issued over a month ago to prevent masks from being exported. Before the coronavirus pandemic, 80% of locally made face masks were exported.
He also said that the masks will be provided in large quantities to cater to demand until the demand goes down as citizens follow government precautions to curb the spread of the virus.
Koshary explained that masks are increasingly scarce due to supply, which has been affected by low availability of materials, not keeping up with the sudden increase in demand.
International exports and imports have also been affected by the crisis, he said, which has had a knock-on effect on face mask supply in Egypt. He added that the masks will be available once Egypt goes into co-existence mode, which is expected to begin in June.
Koshary said that Egypt needs 5 or 6 million masks in curfew time, but that the country uses 30 million masks daily.
A decree by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly on Tuesday announced that the wearing of facemasks in public is obligatory starting from 30 May, with violators facing up to EGP 4,000 in fines
The decree, which covers restrictions to be imposed after the Eid Al-Fitr holiday, notes that facemasks will be mandatory for workers or visitors to markets, shops, public transportation, banks, as well as governmental or private institutions until further notice.