Looking for face masks? This Murray Bridge manufacturer has got you covered
The owners of Bridge Dental have started making surgical masks in an empty shop.
Supermarkets and pharmacies may have run out of face masks ahead of tomorrow’s lockdown, but one Murray Bridge business still had thousands in stock this afternoon.
Bridge Dental’s owners invested in two machines capable of making surgical-grade masks earlier this year, with plans to produce enough to sell to other local clinics.
Instead, with the state plunged into lockdown from midnight on Wednesday and masks to be required in public, owner Mart-Marie Bissett said the clinic would likely sell its remaining stock by 9pm.
The business still had 30,000 masks on hand at 3pm.
The masks were produced to a level three surgical grade and capable of filtering out 97.7 per cent of potentially harmful particles, Ms Bissett said.
She hoped her company, Bissett Medical Supplies, would to be able to continue production on Thursday and get more masks out to the public somehow.
However, she said Bridge Dental – considered elective surgery – would be closed.
She also warned anyone already experiencing cold and flu symptoms not to visit the dental clinic, and to seek testing at the nearest available location.
Owners didn’t expect pivot from dentistry to medical manufacturing
The two mask-making machines sit on one side of a large vacant shop next door to the dental clinic on Bridge Street – the former Getta Bargain.
The other side of the space is filled with rolls and rolls of blue and white material.
Ms Bissett and her partner received the machines in July, but it took some time to get them up and running, and then to have the masks tested and approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
“It has been a bit of a slow process, learning and getting the hang of it,” she said.
“We’re not really in the manufacturing industry, but there’s no better way to learn than to try it.”
Bissett Medical Supplies only began selling masks to the public in response to Wednesday's announcement.
Ms Bissett said she had had conversations about increasing production to supply local food processors or other business, but nothing like this.
However, with enough staff and supplies, she said her company would theoretically be capable of producing thousands of masks per hour.
Latest information: www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/response.