Pakistan to export sanitisers, masks in wake of COVID-19

ISLAMABAD: As the country is currently importing testing kits, masks and other medical material to fight the coronavirus pandemic, the government has allowed businesses to manufacture masks and sanitisers for export purposes.

The said permission was granted during a meeting of the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC), said Adviser to Prime Minister for Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood.

In a series of tweets on Thursday, the adviser informed that the approval was only for “normal textile masks”, and does not include N95 and surgical masks. He urged the manufacturers to prepare themselves as necessary documentation and details would soon be issued in this regard.

“The NCOC meeting this morning approved the export of sanitisers & textile masks NOT N95 & NOT surgical masks but normal textile masks. Necessary documentation details will be issued in the next few days so please prepare yourselves,” he tweeted.

“We have to think strategically for the after lockdown scenario. I request businessmen to think of changing their product mix, geographical spread and going into new lines of business. This has to be our sustainable growth strategy,” the adviser continued, urging the business community forward their suggestions [if any] to the Ministry of Commerce.

The adviser had earlier cautioned that Pakistan’s economic condition had reached a critical stage following the spread of COVID-19.

“We will sit in the Ministry of Finance to discuss and analyse the projections of both the IMF and World Bank but one thing is for sure, situation for Pakistan is critical,” he had said.

Last month, the federal government had placed a ban on the export of personal protective equipment after the country’s coronavirus tally crossed 950.

The banned equipment included N95 masks, surgical masks, face masks, hand sanitisers, biohazard bags, goggles, disposable gloves, and gowns.

The initiative was taken at a time when countries had rushed to protect their supply of masks, as panic buying, hoarding and theft had spread over fears of the deadly virus.

The demand and price of protective medical gear, especially disposable face masks, had gone up since last December when coronavirus appeared in Wuhan, China. Masks had either disappeared from medical stores in the city or were being sold at exorbitant prices across the metropolis.

The masks which were previously available at Rs10 were now even not available at Rs40. However, local masks (made of cloth) were being sold in abundance but they are not recommended by the doctors.

Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]

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