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Alberta Health Services looking to sterilize and reuse N95 masks to prevent shortage

An N-95 mask is seen in Toronto on Friday, March 27, 2020. One of the world's largest U.S.-based makers of consumer products says it has been told by the White House to stop exporting medical-grade face masks to the Canadian market.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Alberta Health Services could start sterilizing some of its personal protective equipment (PPE) to help ensure supply doesn’t run low for frontline health care workers.

Initial testing has already been done on steam cleaning N95 masks which have been effective.

“We could probably reuse each N95 mask about three times and we actually think it could be more than that,” Dr. Verna Yiu, President and CEO of Alberta Health Services, said Wednesday.

AHS is currently working with the University of Calgary to research this form of cleaning to make sure there is no further trace of COVID-19 on the equipment.

On Sunday, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said disinfecting masks is an option the government has been exploring with the global demand for PPE becoming more competitive.

Premier Jason Kenney explained in further detail the province’s COVID-19 models on Wednesday and provided an outlook of Alberta’s PPE supply. Under the current probable scenario, the province would have enough supply of N95 masks for 32 days after April 30.

The probable model also showed that frontline workers would have 12 more days of single-use face shields at the end of April.

“What you see here is that we definitely have enough equipment to manage for the next month or two,” Kenney said.

AHS has ordered additional equipment with the premier saying 50-million procedure masks and 250,000 goggles are expected to arrive in the next two months or earlier.