COVID-19: Coquitlam's Novo Textiles readies to make N95 respirators, a Canadian first

Local business is already manufacturing surgical masks

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      Coquitlam’s  Novo Textiles has announced it’s manufacturing N95 respirators—and it’s the first company in Canada to do so.

      Pre-COVID-19, the family-run business specialized in pillows, insert cushions, dog beds, and other products made out of second-use textiles.

      In response to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s March 20 call to Canadian businesses to help address the shortage of personal protective equipment, Novo Textiles pivoted and began producing surgical masks, wipeable hospital pillows, and protective bedding.

      Now, it’s getting ready to add N95 respirators to its line.

      Company CEO and president Jason Zanatta told local media that production should begin in two weeks.

      Getting to this point has involved around-the-clock work, including swiftly sourcing fully automated mask-production machines from China and learning how to use them via videos and FaceTime.

      “Up until the world changed in the past month, when you bought an automated machine, the manufacturer would send an engineer to help you assemble it,” Zanatta told the Vancouver Sun.

      “I haven’t slept in four nights. The seamstresses are retraining right now to do quality control, run the machines and do packaging.”

      Health Canada has certified Novo Textiles with a Class One Medical Device license.

      Each machine will be able to make 100,000 respirators per day.

      The company already has orders from the RCMP and the Provincial Health Services Authority, according to the article.

      On April 6, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said that wearing a non-medical mask can help stop the spread of COVID-19.