Australian Army soldier Corporal Sander Vloothuis operates the surgical face mask machine at Med-Con Pty Ltd. Picture: Defence
Australian Army soldier Corporal Sander Vloothuis operates the surgical face mask machine at Med-Con Pty Ltd. Picture: Defence

Army put on production line for more masks and gowns

 

 

Army engineers have deployed to a medical sanitiser, face mask, goggles and gowns factory in regional Australia to help boost production to meet critical national shortfalls of the vital coronavirus protective equipment.

The call out came as Defence confirmed another two Australian Defence Force personnel have contracted COVID-19, one each in Queensland and South Australia joining three personnel in NSW.

It also came as the Federal Government made a shout out to other Australian businesses to see if they can diversify their factory production lines to produce more in-demand equipment to fight the spread of the Corona contagion.

 

Australian Army soldier Corporal Sander Vloothuis operates the surgical face mask machine at Med-Con Pty Ltd. Picture: Defence
Australian Army soldier Corporal Sander Vloothuis operates the surgical face mask machine at Med-Con Pty Ltd. Picture: Defence

 

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said about a dozen engineering maintenance specialists were dispatched as a temporary workforce to help the local industry based in Shepparton in Victoria increase domestic production of medical protective goods.

The move was part of the Defence Assistance to the Civil Community arrangements.

"These skilled soldiers are with the company's existing staff on production, maintenance and warehousing tasks," Senator Reynolds said, adding the short term deploy was until the factory could recruit and train extra staff to cope with demands.

 

Corporal Sander Vloothuis with Med-Con employee Lynn Stockwell.
Corporal Sander Vloothuis with Med-Con employee Lynn Stockwell.

 

Army officer Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Crowley (left) and Warrant Officer Class Two Steven Cosstick, discuss actions for replacing a part for a civilian machine being repaired at Wadsworth Barracks, east of Wodonga in Victoria.
Army officer Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Crowley (left) and Warrant Officer Class Two Steven Cosstick, discuss actions for replacing a part for a civilian machine being repaired at Wadsworth Barracks, east of Wodonga in Victoria.

 

Senator Reynolds said the Defence COVID-19 taskforce, led by a three star general, was now fully operational and monitoring not only the risk to the ranks but how it could respond to the public crisis.

"We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and remain focused on contingency planning, protecting Defence personnel to minimise the burden on public health capacity and mitigating the risk to operations," she said yesterday.

Her comment came as Defence confirmed there were two extra personnel now sick with the contagion. Defence would not comment on how the new cases had contracted the virus, for privacy reasons.

 

Warrant Officer Robert Freestone and Med-Con employee Jodie Smith label boxes. Picture: Defence
Warrant Officer Robert Freestone and Med-Con employee Jodie Smith label boxes. Picture: Defence

 

Meanwhile, Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews said using the Army was one way to help firms boost in demand domestic products.

She said the government had put out a "Request for Information" to get an understanding of the manufacturing capability and capacity that exists domestically to increase Australian-based production of goods to combat coronavirus.

She said they were casting the net as widely as possible, asking manufacturers if they have the ability to diversify the work they already do.

"Australian manufacturers have already been reaching out with offers to help, I'm confident our Aussie ingenuity will guide us through this difficult time."

In Britain and the US, car manufacturers and other industrial plants were this week being asked whether they could now build ventilators much needed to tackle COVID-19.


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