Health Service denies having purchased medical masks of inadequate quality

  • 2020-04-20
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The National Health Service denies that medical masks purchased by Latvia do not meet high quality requirements.

The Health Service's Director Edgars Labsvirs said at a press conference on Monday that, according to the European Union and World Health Organization's (WHO) guidelines on the quality of face masks, recent media allegations that Type I face masks were not suitable for use at medical institutions were false.

The Delfi portal wrote earlier this month that medical masks were divided into three categories - Type I, Type II and Type IIR, where the former had a bacterial filtration efficiency of 95 percent, Type II - 98 percent, and Type IIR - also 98 percent plus splash resistance. Latvia has bought Type I masks from the ADDI Trading company, which, for example, are not suitable for surgical operations, Delfi reported.

Labsvirs emphasized that there were several guidelines - European, British, guidelines from the WHO, and none of them said that medical personnel could not use Type I masks.

2 million of all medical masks purchased by Latvia are of Type II masks, while 6 million - Type I masks.

Explaining the differences between Type I and Type II face masks, Labsvirs agreed that the former were not meant to be used in operating theaters and places with similar sterilization requirements, however, they can be used at healthcare facilities for Covid-19 protection purposes.

"Of course, hospitals need to pay attention to the quality of the masks, therefore I call on hospitals to report low-quality masks," said Labsvirs, adding that "we are doing everything in our power to ensure that medical workers are not left unprotected."

Commenting on supplies of protective equipment, Labsvirs said that shortly after the decision to purchase protective equipment was made, the Health Service invited bids from suppliers. Within two weeks, several hundred offers were received, 65 of which have already been published on the Health Service's website. Some offers are still being analyzed.

Labsvirs said that each offer had to include information about the product model, price, country of origin and supply chain. A number of offers was turned down as they did not meet this requirement, many of these simply stated, "I have good contacts in China and I have lived there before." The Health Service eventually concluded three contracts.

"I would like to say that I have no financial obligations or other interests. My sole interest is to provide medical workers and residents with everything they need," said Labsvirs.

Health Minister Ilze Vinkele (For Development/For) pointed out that the entire EU was facing similar problems as Latvia, namely, purchases of personal protective equipment are difficult due to the increased demand.

She, too, said the allegations that medical protective equipment of questionable quality had been purchased were not true.