Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel has said that an estimated 20,000 ventilators are expected to be produced locally by August.
Patel was on Thursday briefing the media during an inter-ministerial briefing by ministers in the economic cluster who serve in the National Coronavirus Command Council on the regulations relating to level 3 of the lockdown.
The minister said in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the increase in demand for ventilators led to global markets being depleted.
This led to the government issuing a request for proposal (RFP) in April on how to build ventilators, Patel said, adding that a number of responses to the RFP were received, with ideas and suggestions.
The respondents included car manufacturers as well as appliance manufacturers who put their hands up, Patel said.
Ultimately three companies will be appointed to manufacture ventilators and the production of these is expected to commence in June, Patel said.
He said the government would consider the following with regards to ventilators: are they fit for use; can they be used outside of major and well-equipped hospitals and in rural and field hospitals; and their affordability.
Patel said the process of designing a product such as a ventilator, which includes following necessary regulations, usually takes three years, however, in the wake of Covid-19, the government is hoping “to reduce that to three months”.
The minister said it is expected that by July production of the ventilators will be at full capacity and that by August it is expected that 20,000 units would have been produced.
Patel said the production of the ventilators would not only be in response to Covid-19, but would also hopefully result in the establishment of a sustainable business that can export its products.