Ontex builds capacity to produce 80 million surgical mouth masks annually


Ontex, the leading producer of personal hygiene products based in Aalst, announced plans to start producing oral masks by September 2020, with a capacity of about 80 million IIR-type surgical oral masks per year. In setting up this production capacity, Ontex was supported by the recently established working group on professional mouth masks, initiated by the Flemish government and coordinated by Catalisti.

"We are investing in the production of surgical mouth masks to support healthcare providers and other essential workers," said Annick De Poorter, Ontex vice president for R&D, Quality and Sustainability. "We want to help protect people, including Ontex employees, who keep society running by providing essential goods and services."

The IIR-type surgical mouth masks, which are commonly used in hospitals, will be made on a production line at Ontex' plant in Eeklo according to applicable regulations. Ontex has ordered specialised machinery for this purpose and is training staff to be certified for production. This will allow the actual production of mouth masks to start in September, or earlier.

The new production is Ontex's own initiative, supported by the recently established working group on professional oral masks in which Catalisti plays a coordinating role. The production capacity is being built out without government subsidy.

In order to offer healthcare providers and other essential workers the opportunity to buy face masks before September, Ontex offers local authorities a direct contact with a trusted supplier of mouth masks, which the company also uses itself. Ontex provides this assistance to the extent possible, as some governments have strict rules whereby only their competent authorities have the right to coordinate the purchase of protective equipment against COVID-19.