Egypt said it will offer fabric face masks on ration cards starting July 1, as part of government efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus in the populous country as the number of cases continue to surge.
The supply ministry will offer 40 million reusable cloth face masks for sale via subsidy cards at a price of EGP 6 each, it said in a statement on Tuesday.
The ministry will determine the number of face masks to be offered per card and other details about obtaining them once it settles on a high-quality and reasonably priced product, supply minister Ali Mosselhi said.
He said providing face masks has become a “pressing need” amid the outbreak of the highly contagious virus.
Authorities are currently working on setting technical specifications that ensure the masks will offer the maximum level of protection against the virus and will be available in sufficient quantities, the minister added.
As of Monday, Egypt has confirmed 46,289 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 1,672 deaths.
Around 70 million citizens benefit from the country’s food subsidy programme, which offers food staples of rice, pasta and other items. It has been revised multiple times in the past few years in an effort to improve access to those most in need.
The announcement by the ministry comes as Egypt started to make wearing face masks in public places mandatory on May 30 and until further notice, with violators facing hefty fines of up to EGP 4,000 ($247).
Face masks are mandatory for workers or visitors at markets, shops, banks, as well as governmental or private institutions and commuters in both public and private transportation.
Egypt said earlier this month that over 100 textile factories would begin manufacturing reusable cloth face masks, to produce 8 million masks per month in the initial phase, which would later be increased to 30 million masks per month.