The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) is working with a number of community governments and organizations to recover orders of KN95 masks sent to them which have been recalled by Health Canada.
As part of the GNWT’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and recognizing that acquiring personal protective equipment (PPE) would be challenging for governments and organizations in the NWT due to increased global demand, the GNWT is working to procure PPE and distribute bulk orders throughout the territory. The orders in question were part of this effort to support communities, Indigenous governments and non-government organizations.
The recalled KN95 masks in the orders are made by several overseas manufacturers. They have been recalled by Health Canada because they do not meet the 95 per cent filtration specifications for medical respirators in Canada. The recall was issued on May 11, 2020.
Procuring PPE at this time has proven very challenging for the GNWT, as this equipment is in great demand across the country and globally. The KN95 masks were ordered before the Health Canada recall was issued. The GNWT is contacting the community governments and organizations who received these shipments of KN95 masks and informing them they cannot be used for medical or industrial purposes.
The health and safety of NWT residents is the main priority of the GNWT. That is why it has invested resources into procuring and distributing PPE throughout the territory during these challenging times. It will take steps to address the situation and make any necessary adjustments to ensure it is sourcing PPE that meet Health Canada standards in the future.
“The GNWT takes this matter very seriously and we are doing all we can to inform communities and organizations about the KN95 mask recall and to ensure we have the processes in place to prevent a similar situation from happening again. We are already actively working to replenish this order as we assist communities and residents to find the PPE supplies that will protect them from the COVID-19 virus and keep them safe.”
-Caroline Cochrane, Premier of the Northwest Territories
· PPE is a vital control measure that, used appropriately with other controls, can prevent transmission of infectious disease and save lives.
· PPE includes face masks, eye protection, gowns, and gloves. KN95 masks are designed to filter out at least 95 per cent of airborne particles and are most necessary in health care settings and may also be used in some industrial applications.
· PPE is not a substitute for physical distancing or engineered and administrative controls intended to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Government of the Northwest Territories