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Coronavirus: Toronto recalls $200K worth of ‘poor quality’ masks distributed to long-term care homes

Toronto recalls more than 60K shoddy masks sent to COVID-19 frontline staff
WATCH ABOVE: The City of Toronto has discovered an order of masks worth $200,000 are prone to rips and tears. It has recalled the masks, but not before the masks were sent to staff at long-term care homes in the city. Matthew Bingley reports.

City of Toronto staff say approximately $200,000 worth of surgical face masks distributed to the City’s long-term care homes in response to the coronavirus pandemic are being recalled, citing “poor quality.”

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, City staff said 1,252 boxes containing 50 masks per box — a total of 62,600 masks — were distributed to the municipally-owned long-term care homes on March 28. The masks, which were manufactured in China, were delivered the day before from an unspecified vendor.

“After reports of ripping and tearing, further inspection of the masks determined that the masks ordered did not meet the City’s standard and specifications,” the statement said, adding the masks are being returned to the vendor for a “full refund.”

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“The City is retrieving its stockpile of surgical masks as a stop-gap measure until a new, appropriate grade mask, as specified, can be purchased, which will happen on a priority basis, as the loss of this inventory makes for a significant shortfall of surgical masks for the City.”

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Matthew Pegg, Toronto’s fire chief and general manager of emergency management, said the masks represented around 50 per cent of the City’s inventory of surgical masks. He said there are still two to three weeks worth of useable masks still available for use.

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Staff said they have contacted the Ontario government for help getting replacement masks. They are also undertaking a “quality control review” of the supply chain of materials to the City.

“All future orders of personal protective equipment will be subject to heightened verification to ensure the products it receives meet the specifications ordered,” the statement said.

The news comes amid dozens of outbreaks at long-term care facilities in Toronto and across the province. One of the City-run facilities, Seven Oaks Long-term Care home, had eight residents die from COVID-19.

It’s not clear how many of those facilities received the defective masks and if any were worn.