150 employees at a Tunisian factory are now in their second week of self-isolating inside the factory, to work on producing over 50,000 face masks a day, as well as other medical gear, to help healthcare workers protect themselves amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The workers went into self-isolation at Consomed, a Tunisian company leading in the production of medical devices and equipment. Located in a rural area south of Tunis, the factory now has dormitories for men and women, recreational spaces for exercise and sports to boost morale, and access to Internet for the workers to call their families. It operates from 6:30 AM to 10:30 PM everyday, on two different shifts.
The factory manager, Hamza Alouini, told BBC that their work is essential for the safety and protection of healthcare workers in the country who are at the front lines of the pandemic right now and must be protected. “I'm trying to do my best for my country - for the hospitals, for the army, for the police, for everybody."
Some of the employees also explained that they’re driven by patriotism for their country as well as an urge to act. Khawla Rebhi, who is in charge of the production line, says the workforce's mission is motivating them to work, but that they still remain concerned about efforts to contain Covid-19. "I am looking at how other governments are struggling with it in Europe and elsewhere and I can't help but wonder how a country like Tunisia will handle it," she said.
In Tunisia, 312 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed so far, as well as 8 deaths. The country has been on lockdown since Sunday March 22.