Australia’s only medical mask factory works round the clock as needs for masks rises

By Our Reporter

Med-Con has been operating in Australia for decades but was only supplying a very small percentage of Australia’s medical industry due to competition from China.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, Med-Con made 2 million masks a year. “All of a sudden now we’re potentially looking at, with added machines, making as much as 50 million masks a year,” said Med-Con CEO Steve Csiszar.

His small business supplied about 5 per cent of the Australian market from its factory in Shepparton in Victoria. “Our staffing is approximately 17 people but with what’s happened now it’s been a total upheaval,” Mr Csiszar said.

As the scale of the coronavirus became apparent, the Federal Government approached the company to see if it was in a position to make millions of medical mask as quickly as possible.

Now the factory has the capacity to make more masks, the biggest hurdle is getting enough raw materials from overseas.

The countries that Med-Con would normally order supplies from are holding onto their stocks for domestic use.

“We’ve got the embassies working on our behalf to go to the manufacturers in the respective countries and trying to get them to release materials,” he said.

There are currently severe shortages of Personal Protective Equipment worldwide. The prices of masks and gowns have surged since the virus outbreak.

Last week, the Federal Government issued a request for companies around Australia to come forward if they could help produce PPE.

Australia’s capacity to produce more equipment locally will now be mapped. More than 130 companies have come forward so far.

“The Government is working with international and in-country suppliers to continue to increase PPE supplies in the short and long term and has already sourced over 400 million surgical masks and a range of other PPE supplies,” the Department of Health said in a statement.

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