The Consomed factory in Khairouan, central Tunisia, made the decision to maintain its production rate despite the lockdown. To do so, 150 employees have confined themselves to the company's own premises, with enough to live in near autarky for one month.
Serving as the country’s main production site for medical supplies, and one of the largest in all of Africa, it seemed unthinkable to stop the production of these materials in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic. The materials are increasingly desired and prove essential for the medical staffs to safely fight against the virus.
This is why, in order to continue producing the face masks, hazmat sterile suits, hair nets and other protections, and meet the demand – notably from hospitals – that exploded, 150 people, mainly female workers, confined themselves to the company’s warehouses, with enough to live in quasi-autarky for a month.
The provided amenities include separate dormitories for the men and women, a doctor (who took their temperatures before entering the premises), a cooking staff and different relaxation areas.
This initiative was launched on a voluntary basis. Hamza Alouini, the director of the factory, expects the operation to last one month. This is both a time limit dictated by the company’s resources (which also pays its employees several hours of overtime per day to adapt to a high production rate), and the consideration of the employees mental health.
They rightly feel that they are on a mission for the common good. When contacted by AFP, Khaoula, an on-site employee, opened up about “the support received by her family and friends, and the atmosphere of mutual aid that reigns at the factory.”