British Columbia

By the numbers: B.C. expects to spend more than $400M on protective equipment this year

The COVID-19 pandemic means the B.C. government will spend more than six times as much money this year on things like N95 masks, eye protection and surgical gloves, according to the health minister.

Early days of pandemic were 'very challenging' as worldwide supplies ran low

Health Minister Adrian Dix acknowledged Monday that there were challenges securing personal protective equipment for health-care workers in the early days of the pandemic. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The COVID-19 pandemic means the B.C. government will spend more than six times as much money this year on things like N95 masks, eye protection and surgical gloves, according to the health minister.

Adrian Dix provided his weekly update Monday on the province's efforts to secure personal protective equipment for health-care workers during this public health emergency.

"As you know, it was very challenging in the early days," Dix said.

Some of those challenges included a lack of supply on the international market, counterfeit or unusable products and high prices.

Here are some of the numbers Dix laid out on B.C.'s quest for PPE.

PPE expenditures for the year ending March 31, 2020: $62.5 million.

Forecasted PPE expenditures for the year ending March 31, 2021: more than $400 million.

Average cost of an N95 mask pre-pandemic: $0.62.

Average cost from April to June: $5 to $9.

Average cost now: $1 and $9.

Employees pack facemasks for children at a factory in India. The price of masks varied wildly throughout the pandemic. (Sam Panthaky/AFP via Getty Images)

Since March, B.C. has secured:

  • Nearly 7.8 million N95 or equivalent respirators.
  • More than 132.5 million surgical or procedure masks.
  • More than 2.9 million pieces of eye protection.
  • More than 256.8 million pairs of gloves.
  • More than 17 million gowns.

In the past week alone, that included:

  • 75,801 N95 or equivalent respirators.
  • 680,500 surgical or procedure masks.
  • 184,656 pieces of eye protection.
  • 87.9 million pairs of gloves.
  • 1.7 million gowns.
The cost of N95 masks spiked during the spring. (Guy Leblanc/Radio-Canada)

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