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How wool PPE face masks could help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in New Zealand

05/08/2020

James Fyfe


A newly launched face mask made of wool could help prevent a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) if there is another outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. 

The masks - developed by the company Lanaco - were officially launched at a Parliament function on Tuesday evening with Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor.

Demand for face masks and other PPE gear surged earlier this year before community transmission of COVID-19 was eliminated.

Although COVID-19 is currently under control in New Zealand, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has warned that is likely to change at any time.

"It's not a matter of if, but when, we get this virus back in the community," Dr Bloomfield told The AM Show on Wednesday.


Nick Davenport, founder and director of sales and marketing at Lanaco, says his company has been working for years on developing face masks but the pandemic has "certainly blown the whole thing out of the water".

"We were focusing on global environmental air quality and other contaminants in the air which affects people's health negatively," Davenport told Magic Talk's Rural Today on Wednesday. 

"This virus is just something much bigger and newer and more serious."

Last month the company's wool masks passed all testing for AS/NZS 1716 P2 level, the New Zealand equivalent of the N95 level in the US.

"That means it's suitable PPE for the frontline or people in the workplace," Davenport said.

The masks make use of wool's positively charged nature, which Davenport says "translates to an electrostatic filter which acts as a magnet to capture a whole range of particles in the air".

"It's naturally bacteria-static, so germs don't remain on it and it naturally absorbs toxins," he said.


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