(Photo courtesy of DOST-STII)

MANILA – The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is looking for more co-operators to help the agency produce reusable face masks it intends to donate to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) front-liners.

In a virtual presser on Wednesday, DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said the agency can produce 10,000 pieces of "REwear” face masks per week.

"We are still at the 10,000 per week production (rate) because we are still looking for more co-operators to do the sewing," dela Peña said, adding that most of the DOST's co-operators in face mask production are from Taytay, Rizal, and Cavite.

He said the DOST eyes increasing the production rate to 50,000 per week by the end of June.

The initial target is to produce 500,000 reusable face masks, dela Peña said, noting that REwear would be donated to front-liners, especially health care workers and those at the checkpoints.

Meanwhile, he noted that most of the fabrics the DOST has been using were donations from companies.

Earlier, DOST - Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) director Celia Elumba said they have been using donated finished fabrics and they have to remove any resin that had been added to it.

"If a donated fabric comes already dyed or finished or it already has resin put on it to finish the look or feel or color of the material, those have to be removed to bring it to a sort of blank canvas so it will absorb or take in the new finish more readily, more efficiently, more appropriately. That is to de-resinize, simply to remove what resin has been put in," Elumba explained.

During the finishing process, the masks would be applied with a protective treatment that could repel liquid, she added.

REwear uses a textile finishing technology based on the linkage on the cellulosic textile substrate that will make it repellent to liquids.

Since REwear is water-repellent, it would help prevent liquid droplets from coughing and sneezing that potentially carry the virus and bacteria.

The PTRI earlier said REwear already went through durability testing and is washable for up to 50 times. (PNA)