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SA to use vending machines for masks


South Australia will trial the use of vending machines to distribute protective equipment to medical staff, including masks, to better keep track of supplies during the coronavirus pandemic.

The trial will be conducted at Adelaide’s Flinders Medical Centre, with SA Chief Nurse Jenny Hurley saying it will allow real-time monitoring of what stocks are available and better regulate the supply across hospitals.

“It will allow us to meet the needs of the teams out there. It’s critically important our staff have the right equipment at the right time,” she said.

The trial comes as a local packaging company also gears up to produce 145 million surgical masks in the coming months under an agreement with the federal and SA governments.

The agreement with Adelaide’s Detmold Group will provide 100 million to the National Medical Stockpile and 45 million to SA.

“We have a sufficient supply of masks at the moment, but this work will ensure we sustain that supply over the months ahead,” federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said in a statement.

Detmold will employ an extra 160 workers and invest more than $1 million in buying local supplies that will support other businesses.

“This new production line won’t be up and running overnight, that’s why we’re attacking this challenge from all angles, including continuing work to secure further masks out there in the market,” Ms Andrews said.

Detmold Group CEO Alf Ianniello said production will start by May from the company’s manufacturing facility at suburban Brompton.

“We expect to have the capacity to manufacture over 20 million masks per month by June, and the facility will produce both surgical masks and respirator masks,” he said.

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