Female-dominated Tunisian factory self-isolates to make 50k masks daily to fight coronavirus

Mohammed Awal Mar 30, 2020 at 03:00pm

March 30, 2020 at 03:00 pm | Activism & Campaigns, News

Mohammed Awal

Mohammed Awal

March 30, 2020 at 03:00 pm | Activism & Campaigns, News

CONSOMED/AFP

Workers at a Tunisian factory have isolated themselves for a month to make protective gears like face masks to help their country’s battle against the rampaging deadly coronavirus pandemic. 

The 150 Consomed factory employees – made of mostly women – 110 and 40 men are churning out 50,000 face masks a day to augment the North Africa country’s fight against the deadly scourged.

As of 30 March 2020, 715 660 cases of COVID-19 have been reported, including 33 579 deaths, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

Africa has more than 4,600 confirmed cases of coronavirus, 278 of that number is in Tunisia with eight deaths.

Consomed factory manager Hamza Alouni told the BBC, the employees’ decision to embark on a month’s lockdown to produce protective apparels to help the country’s coronavirus fight was influenced by patriotism. “We are almost the only manufacturer in Tunisia, so if we don’t work our doctors will not be protected against the virus,” he said.

“Yes, it is something of patriotism in Tunisia, they know what we are doing, they know our products, they know our country. They are very intelligent and they understand the situation and everything is okay for now.

“We have positive vibes and it’s eight days now. We have been here since 2oth march and everything is okay,” said Alouni.

The factory had prepared for the lockdown which began on March 20 for a month. 

“…We were working for exports and we know the situation in the international world. Even in England, we have a client in there but now we cannot sell to him because everything is for our country now and we can’t sell to export,” Alouni said.

One of the employees, Khawla Rebhi said, “My husband and 16-year-old daughter supported and encouraged me to do this.” 

“We have a designated area for all kinds of exercise and dancing for the women, and the men have a football and basketball area,” Ms. Rebhi who is in charge of the production line, told the BBC. “And we all have internet and video chat with our families when we are not working.”

The 5,000-square-meter (53,800-square-foot) facility, located in a largely rural area south of the capital Tunis, is the country’s main production site for masks, caps, sterile suits and other protective items.

“We are the only ones producing (protective items) for Tunisian hospitals,” Alouini told AFP via video call, adding: “I chose to isolate (the company) as a precaution because if the virus gets into the factory, it will be disastrous.”

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