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On Friday last week, Syntech partnered with a local Non-Profit Organisation to donate 100 thermometers and 6 000 3-ply single-use masks to the City of Cape Town’s Library and Information Centres. The Director of Library and Information Services, Ninnie Steyn, and Member of the Mayoral Committee, Councillor Zahid Badroodien, accepted the donation at the Table View Library that will be dispersed to the libraries across the city.

Since March Syntech has been facilitating the distribution of large-scale bulk imports of high-quality personal protective equipment (PPE) into the country. After donations to the Department of Health, Syntech was approached by an NPO to help with the donation of the thermometers to the City of Cape Town’s Library and Information Centres. “We saw an opportunity to complement this donation and in addition to the 100 thermometers, we have donated 6000 3-ply face masks,” said Ryan Martyn, Co-Founder of Syntech. “Being here today I am reminded of the excitement as a child of walking into a library and the immense amount of knowledge that is contained in books,” Ryan said delivering the donation.

“We have been struggling for quite some time to get the necessary protective equipment for us to reopen the libraries because there is a long queue for the City of Cape Town’s PPE resources,” said Councillor Zahid Badroodien, Director of Library and Information Services. While the medical staff remain at the frontline during this pandemic, communities are eager to have the libraries in their areas reopen. “There are members of the community that need to access these spaces not only for reading,” Councillor Zahid Badroodien and Ninnie Steyn explained. The libraries and information centres house a variety of resources including books, newspapers, and computers, which all provide the means to gain access to incredible amounts of knowledge, expand possibilities, and discover the world. In small and remote communities, libraries offer global exposure and access to resources beyond what is offered in school. Beyond their purpose, libraries and information centres offer a safe space for much of South Africa’s youth. With the relax of lockdown many are left to gather in their communities with little place to go, yearning for the spaces of solace that are provided by public libraries.

The librarians and supporting staff have been eagerly awaiting the reopening of the libraries, and now with the necessary PPE to comply with regulations, libraries have begun to reopen. For the moment during level 2 of lockdown, the libraries are offering a ‘drop & collect’ service in which books can be reserved telephonically or via email at your nearest library and collected. Once returned, the books are kept in quarantine for 72 hours before being sanitised and places back on the shelves. “If we were to wait for the resources from the city, we wouldn’t have been able to open the libraries until next year,” Councillor Zahid Badroodien said. “This donation places us in a better position, with more resources to open more of City’s libraries and offer the ‘drop & collect’ service in more areas,” Ninnie Steyn explained.  

For the libraries to reopen to the public for browsing, much more resources will be needed. “People do want more than that though, they miss the library spaces, but at this very stage, this is all we can manage,” Ninnie Steyn said. “When we do allow people back into the library, we’ll need sanitisation of surfaces, books and computers as well as the necessary protective equipment for all library staff.” For now, the staff are pleased to be back in the library, doing what they love most.

With the move into level 2 of lockdown, we are urged to remain stringent with our social distancing hygiene practices to prevent a second surge of Covid-19 cases. Knowing that a large amount of our population may be deemed high-risk due to comorbidity, wearing of masks that provide high filtration and efficacy against particulate matter, such as the 3-ply single-use face masks, is of high importance.

With the international supply of PPE at the moment, the prices of 3-ply single-use face masks have dropped significantly and we urge those in need of masks for their families, staff, and customers view the full range of medical equipment available at and support their local communities by buying or donating essential PPE.