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Coronavirus COVID-19 may affect PPE supplies

respiratory protection may affect the mining industry

As the Coronavirus (COVID- 19) hits globally, there are warnings emerging that many global PPE supply chains could be affected by product shortages due to growing demands.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Global demand for respiratory protection is growing (particularly in the P2 mask market)
  • Miners are advised to check with suppliers regarding stock availability and supply chain security.

Those most affected will likely be those PPE suppliers sourcing products such as respiratory protection and gloves from the range of Chinese factories operating in the Wuhan regions of China although other areas of China are also in lockdown preventing manufacturing or distribution of warehoused products to international locations.

The global supply chain for PPE has already been affected and a range of affected regions are scampering to secure products urgently.

Growing global concerns of a pandemic have not only seen a rush on retail outlets both within Australia and globally for P2 Respirators, surgical masks hand sanitisers, coveralls and some surgical based gloves.

The Australian Government has also reportedly has moved to bolster its emergency stockpile of reportedly 12 million P2 masks and 7.2 million surgical masks.

Australia has no domestic production facilities of respirators and subsequently like many other regions is working to secure additional masks in the event of a pandemic.

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The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is also concerned about supply. WA President and anaesthetist Dr Andrew Miller said it was becoming difficult for GPs to PPE through current channels.

‘We have to have a bit of a think about what we’re going to do in that environment [possibly running out of PPE], and how long we can delay this thing getting into the community,’ he said.
 
‘The point that the chief health officers are making at the moment is that they’d love to be able to help, but pretty much nobody’s going to have any, once this thing hits because we’re not getting any more out of China and we’re using our usual stock in “business as usual” activity at the moment.’

The effects could soon well be felt in the mining industry as supplies of respirators (predominantly P2) are absorbed by the medical sector. This could have potentially significant effects on respiratory health if the issue is not managed across the mining and other sectors who require a basic level of protection to work safely.

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