Czechia plans to dispose of over 17 million unused face masks

Millions of protective items purchased by the previous administration to combat Covid-19 are no longer needed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 20.03.2023 16:04:00 (updated on 20.03.2023) Reading time: 1 minute

Millions of unused face masks that Czechia obtained during the Covid-19 pandemic will be destroyed because they have expired.

During the coronavirus crisis, the state procured billions of crowns worth of medical supplies for material reserves. These included masks and respirators, protective gloves, goggles and test kits. However, the state has not been able to use up all the material before the expiration dates.

The Administration of State Material Reserves (SSHR) has now launched a public tender to find a company to dispose of 17,304,650 face masks.

The Chinese-made masks in total weigh 59 tons, plus an additional eight tons of packaging, news server reported.

Disposal costs should not exceed CZK 233,000. So far, the masks have been held in customs.

No interest in using them

"Even before the expiration date, we offered the masks to other parts of the state and then also to individuals and legal entities. But there was no interest in them," SSHR chairman Pavel Švagr told ČTK. According to the SSHR, the registered price for each mask is CZK 10.

According to Švagra, the SSHR did not buy the masks that are now slated for destruction. They were transferred to its stocks from the property of the Ministry of the Interior, which obtained them in 2020 during the tenure of the previous ANO-led government. At the time, the government often paid high prices for the items due to global demand that made them scarce.

The government led by Prime Minister Petr Fiala, which took over at the end of November 2021, relaxed many of the pandemic restrictions at the end of 2021 and the start of 2022. This reduced the need for protective material and tests, and much of it has been sitting in storage since.

Medical experts say that masks even if stored properly can deteriorate over time, and cannot be guaranteed to provide the same level of protection as when they were new.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more