Orakpo: Our Locally Produced Medical Facemasks will Help Nigeria Tackle COVID-19

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Cyprian-Orakpo

As the world continues to search for vaccines or a curative drug to tackle COVID-19, face masks and other medical devices are considered essential preventive materials. In an interview with Rebecca Ejifoma, the Managing Director, Transgreen Nigeria Limited, Mr. Cyprian Orakpo, spoke about the company’s local production of medical facemasks and how it can help tackle the pandemic.

What is your view about the COVID-19 pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the face of the world and people living in it. The global economy, education, businesses, religion, sports, entertainment and other human endeavours have been impacted with its evolution.

COVID-19 virus has penetrated into all the kings’ palaces and government houses. Academic institutions are shut down, markets and businesses, religious houses, cinemas, gyms and spas, among others. Nothing has affected the world like this in the recent past.

How do you feel that the world is still looking for solutions?

COVID-19 took the world unaware like a storm. So much is not yet known about it and this has made finding a cure a little difficult. However, in the absence of preventive vaccine and curative drugs, face masks and other medical devices like gloves, respirators and ventilators have suddenly become the panacea and a sort of national security product. Respiratory hygiene has taken a centre stage in curbing the spread of this contagious virus. Wearing face masks and social distancing are now the new normal globally.

Sadly, many privileged nations who could produce these medical devices banned their exports to other nations as they didn’t have the capacity to meet their local needs.

How do you feel hearing Nigeria didn’t have capacity to produce medical graded face mask?

It was personally embarrassing for me to learn that prior to COVID-19 pandemic; there was no local medical face mask manufacturing facility in Nigeria. It was a similar situation in 2002 that launched us into manufacturing CD’s and DVD’s. This time around Transgreen Nigeria Limited also rose up to the occasion to fill this void and contribute her quota in fighting this pandemic and to promote health security in the country and the world at large. We started this process three months ago, specifically in May this year, and today that dream of local production of medical graded face mask by a Nigerian company has come to fruition. To meet our deadline, we had to airfreight 26 metric tons of machines and raw materials, more than a full cargo of Boeing 737, down to Nigeria.

How is your facemask different from the imported ones?

Ours, O-Care medical face mask, is top notch. According to our market survey, most of the imported masks in the market are neither protective nor medical. At best they offer little protection against dust and pollen. They are helpless when it concerns bacteria or viruses because they don’t have filters as the middle layer called “Meltblown”. At the peak of the lockdown, Meltblown material was ten times more expensive than the other two non-woven layers which might be why most imported masks didn’t have it.

What many manufacturers of imported masks do is to double the skin layer (white) and then add the outer layer (blue) to make it three. Physically, both masks will appear the same, but they are completely different. The danger of wearing mask that doesn’t have filter is that it will create a false sense of security whereby the wearer will assume that he or she is protected, and be careless with places he or she goes meanwhile he or she is not protected. It is actually very dangerous to wear a mask that does not have filter especially for those who are exposed to infected persons.

Could you tell us more about O-Care Medical Face Mask?
It is a brand name for Transgreen Nigeria Limited’s three-ply face mask. It offers protection against dust, pollen, bacteria and all known viruses with breathable comfort and low respiratory resistance. This product is durable and manufactured according to WHO standards. The first or outermost layer called hydrophobic non-woven layer protects the wearer from droplets and splashes, the middle layer called Meltblown is the filter against bacteria and viruses while the innermost or skin layer is a soft fabric/tissue that is comfortable to the skin.

The ear-loop is made up of ropes which are welded ultrasonically such that it does not easily pull out from the mask. The nose clip is like a little plastic/tick that holds the mask firmly to your nose bridge such that your eye glasses (for those who wear glasses) are not fogged.

What are the disadvantages of wearing cloth masks?

The more you try to restrict the virus from infecting you by wearing a thicker cloth, the more you are not able to breathe because the thicker the material, the more difficult you will have in breathing. The medical graded face mask however has a filter (meltblown) that allows the wearer to breathe in and out easily without the virus or the bacteria passing through it. O-care Medical Face Mask is the first certified and registered Medical Face Mask in Nigeria and indeed sub-Saharan Africa.