Story By: Ernest Bio Bogore, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
Belgian prisoners have volunteered to make thousands of face masks for healthcare workers to help beat the shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Belgian Prison Administration (PA) has announced that Belgian prisons equipped with sewing workshops will provide protective masks to healthcare workers in the country to help fight the coronavirus.
Kathleen De Vijver, a spokesperson for the PA, said the initiative is a voluntary prisoners’ initiative.
She added: “We’ve already cut fabric to make 2,000 mouth masks.”
De Vijver said that the sewing skills of some prisoners had already been tested at the prison in Oudenaarde in the Flemish province of East Flanders when an outside company recently contracted out its production to the facility.
According to the spokeswoman, 11 inmates at Oudenaarde capable of producing 500 masks a day, should soon be followed by seven others at Merksplas prison near Antwerp, already ready to start.
Koen Geens, the Belgian Minister of Justice, said: “The inmates want to do something in return for society.”
Belgium, a country of 11.4 million people, has officially registered 1,243 cases of coronavirus and 10 deaths.
Faced with the risk of a large influx of sick people, the Health Ministry called on Belgian citizens already equipped with a medical mask to take it to the nearest hospital on Monday.
For its part, the Prison Administration has guaranteed that the washable masks made in prison could be used for “professional use”.
De Vijver told local press: “We can’t issue a certificate because we make them ourselves, but our medical service has assured us that they can be used by professionals”.
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