Washington - Canada has presented a plan to step up production of face masks and other medical equipment amid attempts by the US President Donald Trump to restrict exports of masks, and global competition for medical equipment.
At his daily press briefing on Tuesday , Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the local production of 30,000 ventilators, masks and other protective gear needed to combat the COVID-19 epidemic, Efe news agency reported.
His announcement came hours after Trump prevented American conglomerate 3M from sending half a million N95 masks to Canada.
Although Washington backtracked on Tuesday and said it would allow the masks to be exported after protests by 3M and Canadian authorities that even went so far as to threaten retaliation, Trudeau said his country needed "to be ready for any circumstances and every circumstances."
Trudeau said that 22 local apparel manufacturers, including Canada Goose, known for its expensive winter jackets, will produce medical gowns using Canadian raw materials for the country's healthcare workers.
Other companies will also produce surgical and N95 masks and other crucial personal protective equipment.
Even as the Canadian government is working with several manufacturers in Canada to produce 30,000 respirators, it has also asked Nobel Prize-winning researcher Art McDonald to develop easy-to-make ventilators, Trudeau added.
The announcement of the local production of masks also comes at a time when medical authorities in Canada have changed their stance about the use of masks by healthy people and now recommend that the entire population use them in supermarkets as well as on public transport.
Canada's health authorities also said Tuesday that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country had increased by 1,205 in the past 24 hours for a total of 17,872. A total of 337 people have died from the disease in the country.
Trudeau denied that the donations of medical equipment by Chinese telecoms giant Huawei will influence Canada's decision on the use of its 5G telecommunications equipment, which is to be announced this year.
The Canadian Prime Minister also denied that the donation of millions of masks by the company will affect the case of Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei's founder and the company's chief financial officer and who is being held in Canada after the US requested her extradition.
Such donations "will not affect our decision on other issues in the years to come," Trudeau said. --IANS