“In these unprecedented circumstances, science, research, innovation and collaboration have never been more important.
“The State / Marshall Government is determined to do everything we can to support industry and research to fight COVID-19 and minimise the impact on our state.
“A $450,000 grant through the Research Commercialisation and Startup Fund will support the South Australian facility, which will be established using laboratories at Flinders Tonsley and UniSA Mawson Lakes, providing new capability for Australia and the state.
“Face masks such as the respirator P2/N95 and level 3 surgical masks need to be tested to strict manufacturing standards to protect frontline health workers, and usually testing is undertaken in the United States, taking around three weeks.
“China produces most of the global supply of face masks, however this has been significantly disrupted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Last month, the State and Commonwealth Governments commissioned Detmold, a South Australian packaging company, to establish a respirator (P2/N95 masks) and surgical mask (Level 3) manufacturing capability in Brompton producing 45 million face masks for SA Health and 100 million for the Federal Government’s National Medical Stockpile.
“Production is expected to start in May 2020, and at full capacity should produce more than 20 million masks each month for local and national markets.
“With this new testing facility, we will be able to deliver this medical equipment to hospitals within weeks, substantially faster than previously.”
Professor Karen Reynolds, Director Medical Device Partnering Program and Dean (Research) College of Science and Engineering Flinders University, said the facility will bring together an impressive array of research strength to ensure the protective equipment used by South Australia’s health professionals keeps them safe.
“In order to protect our vital hospital staff, face masks have to meet rigorous standards – they need to filter out bacteria, resist blood, withstand wear and tear, and yet still be easy to breathe through,” she said.