Many South Africans are now appreciating the virtues of good design as we don face masks to go back to work and be out in public. Trouble getting them on, discomfort while wearing them, steamy spectacles and getting short of breath are some of the challenges we are facing as we strive to protect ourselves and others from the ongoing threat of COVID-19 infection.
In the early stages of lockdown, Woolworths worked closely with one of its local clothing suppliers to rapidly develop a mask for its frontline employees that met government guidelines with the focus being on performance, comfort and the ability to be reusable. Since then, in-depth research into latest technologies and extensive wearer trials have been conducted to inform the design of an ultimate mask for their employees which is now also available for customers to purchase.
“In the mask design process and to ensure effectiveness of our fabric face mask, we collaborated with multiple industry specialists including fabric and product manufacturers to produce a non-medical, re-useable, adult, fabric face mask. We also did extensive research into potential virus protecting finishes, which screen out potential viral and bacterial pathogens,” says Thilu Govender, Woolworths: Head of Strategic Sourcing.
The result is a proudly South African first – a locally designed and made reusable, fully washable, quick drying face mask with:
• an innovative Viroblock fabric finish; a proven Swiss technology used on the outer fabric which has been scientifically proven to reduce the exposure to viruses and bacteria.
• a non-rusting, flexible wire insert over the nose area that the user can mould for a close fit which helps to prevent misting of glasses.
• wide elastic loops around the ears for extra comfort.
• a uniquely, engineered centre filter that has been tested for droplet protection. Filters will only need to be replaced after 7 washes.
• outer, super lightweight fabric layers that are comfortable and offer both filtration and breathability.
The ultra-protective, easy to wear masks cost R59 each, which include 5 reusable filters, and are on sale at till points in selected Woolworths’ stores, including food stores.