Federal ministers Maggie De Block and Philippe De Backer visited on Tuesday one of the locations where medical equipment for protection against the coronavirus pandemic will be stored.
There are 118 million surgical masks and 27 million FFP2 and KN-95 masks stored in Hoogstraten (in the province of Antwerp). The latter two types of masks offer protection not only to the person wearing the mask but also to the people around them.
According to De Backer, Belgium is ready to provide front-line assistance if the need arises. The stock will be distributed in different locations and will include a total of 160 million surgical masks, 5.7 million FFP2 masks and 45 million KN-95 masks.
Such a stock is the result of the work carried out by the administration, companies and the task force in charge of medical equipment, with the help of Defence, De Backer stressed.
“The most important thing is that we can offer confidence to the people on the front line, that we are ready and that we can deliver the protective equipment to them if necessary,” he added.
The Federal Public Health Service has set up a rotating stockpile. “This way, we keep the protective equipment on the ground. The only thing we have to do is to keep the supply up to date: every time masks are used, we have to replenish it,” De Block explained.
This system avoids renting huge warehouses and destroying outdated equipment.
De Block was at the heart of a fierce controversy when it emerged at the start of the epidemic in Belgium that a large stock of protective equipment stored in Namur had been destroyed.
The subject is expected to return to the agenda of the Covid-19 special parliamentary committee in the coming weeks.