The NWT government says it is recalling an unspecified number of KN95 face masks after Health Canada issued a recall of its own earlier this week.
The territory said it was “working with a number of community governments and organizations” to get the masks back. No identifying brand names or serial numbers were given.
“The orders in question were part of [an] effort to support communities, Indigenous governments and non-government organization,” the territory said in a statement on Friday evening.
“The recalled KN95 masks in the orders are made by several overseas manufacturers,” the statement continued.
“They have been recalled by Health Canada because they do not meet the 95-percent filtration specifications for medical respirators in Canada. The recall was issued on May 11, 2020.”
In that recall, Health Canada itself did not identify exactly which masks were affected. The federal authority said it was “following up with companies that may have imported and distributed respirators that were tested [and] did not meet performance standards.”
As of last week, the federal government had ordered 135 million respirators and 11.5 million had been delivered. Of those, Ottawa said one million met federal standards.
The difference between an N95 and a KN95 mask is that N95 is a US standard, and KN95 is a Chinese standard.
“Procuring PPE at this time has proven very challenging for the GNWT, as this equipment is in great demand across the country and globally,” the territorial government said in Friday’s statement.
“The KN95 masks were ordered before the Health Canada recall was issued.
“The GNWT is contacting the community governments and organizations who received these shipments of KN95 masks and informing them they cannot be used for medical or industrial purposes.”
Premier Caroline Cochrane said her government “takes this matter very seriously.”
Premier Cochrane added in the same news release: “We are doing all we can to inform communities and organizations about the KN95 mask recall and to ensure we have the processes in place to prevent a similar situation from happening again.
“We are already actively working to replenish this order as we assist communities and residents to find the supplies that will protect them from the Covid-19 virus and keep them safe.”