Italian cycling clothing manufacturer Santini have announced that they are pivoting to manufacturing face masks in response to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Santini is based in the town of Lallio, near Bergamo in northern Italy, one of the areas hardest hit by the spread of the virus in the country. As of Thursday night, Italy had 35,613 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 2,978 deaths.
The company, working in conjunction with local textile manufacturer Sitip, has said that a prototype has already been made. The mask is currently being tested at the Politecnico di Milan before approval can be given to begin production of a possible 10,000 masks a day.
"Right from the start, we asked ourselves as entrepreneurs what we could do," Santini marketing manager Monica Santini told Bergamo News. "Given the need, we contacted another company from Bergamo, Sitip, which supplies waterproof and breathable fabrics, and we made a prototype.
"We have made the prototype and now we're waiting for the go-ahead from the Politecnico di Milano, which is testing it. From Monday March 23, we could put out mask into production."
Italy has a pronounced need for such equipment as supplies run low during the crisis. This week, a doctor working near Piacenza died after contracting coronavirus having been forced to work without gloves after supplies ran out. Other medical staff have tested positive for the coronavirus or are risking their health daily.
Paola Pedrini, Bergamo regional secretary of the Italian GP Federation, told Euronews that masks which should last half a day are being used for up to a week due to shortages.
"We have already tested the machinery and we are ready to produce 10,000 masks a day," said Santini. "We've received a lot of requests, but priority will be given to Bergamo and its provinces because we can see with our own eyes the difficulties of our hospitals, and how much people are still working in offices and factories."