London’s PPE stockpile includes hundreds of thousands of masks, gloves: city official

As the province eyes a slow and gradual reopening from the shutdowns that have been imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears London will be well prepared when that time comes.

Over the last several months, the city has amassed a stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE), including hundreds of thousands of masks and gloves, hundreds of tubs of disinfectant wipes, and dozens of litres of sanitizer, according to London’s manager of corporate security and emergency management, Dave O’Brien.

The process of building such a stockpile began in January as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, began a rapid spread within China.

“Since then, we’ve continued through this whole period and making sure that we have PPE available as best as we can for not only our immediate services, but as part of our emergency management program.”

Canada continues to experience a shortage of PPE amid a global surge in demand triggered by the pandemic while Canadian manufacturers scramble to pivot to PPE production. The federal government has contracts with several suppliers for a total of 135.5 million masks.

With those concerns in mind, O’Brien says the city has had a full logistics section up and running since early March whose sole focus has been sourcing PPE.

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Over the last five months, O’Brien says the city has managed to collect some 100,000 masks, 500,000 gloves, and around 80 litres of sanitizer products for its stockpile.

“We have quite a few tubs of the wipes,” he continued. “I think it’s somewhere in the area of about 400-500 tubs.”

The province is set to announce details Thursday about its plans for entering “Stage 1” of Ontario’s reopening timeline. Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday that Ontario will be reopening more low-risk workplaces, seasonal businesses and essential services.

Last week, Ontario eased more restrictions by allowing garden centres, nurseries, hardware and supply stores to reopen. Retail stores, with a street entrance, were allowed to provide curbside pickup to customers as of Monday.

Ontario has released more than 80 safety guidelines for businesses to follow for reopening. When it comes to enforcement, Premier Ford has said they will be relying on inspectors.

— With files from Global’s Gabby Rodrigues, and The Canadian Press.

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