New Delhi: With the rise in the number of diagnosed coronavirus cases in many parts of the country, people are rushing to medical stores to get their hands on either N95 or a simple surgical face masks which has led to a massive shortage. In a bid to address this shortage in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Indore Central Jail has started an initiative under which the inmates have begun producing cotton masks. While talking about initiative, Rakesh Bhangre, Superintendent, Indore Central Jail, told NDTV,
With rising demand and shortage of supply, the price of masks has shot up multiple times. In Indore itself, one can observe how this product has become one of the most coveted that people can currently own. A simple use and throw N95 masks is now available at Rs. 200-250 in the market in Indore whereas we are selling good quality masks at a nominal rate of Rs. 10 each. Our aim is to make masks accessible for people with lower means.
He further said the masks produced by inmates are reusable, can be washed after every use and are being made of three-layered cotton cloth. These masks are being produced by the tailoring unit of the jail which has 15 prisoners who have been trained in stitching clothes for the inmates. Mr. Bhangre said,
Because we have a very well-functioning tailoring unit, we faced no challenges as far as machinery and infrastructure is concerned. These are trained prisoners and are able to produce 200 masks per day.
According to Mr. Bhangre, the quality of the masks produced in the jail has been approved by doctors at government medical college in Indore. These masks have been distributed to all jail and court officials in Indore including all lawyers and judges and will be soon provided to the police department as well.
On the measures, the jail authorities are taking to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the Superintendent said,
We are taking care of the number of times the inmates are washing their hands.
In India, the number of reported cases grew to more than 223 on Friday. Four people from Delhi, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra have died in the last two weeks. Across the country, schools, colleges, theatres, malls and shopping areas have been shut down in large parts, to avoid the spread of the virus. In a televised address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi last night called for social distancing, urging people to avoid stepping out of their homes “unless absolutely necessary”. He also appealed to citizens to observe a “Janata curfew” this Sunday as a test run for social distancing over the next few days.