The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has banned three Nairobi-based companies found to be manufacturing substandard face masks.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Authority said it carried out countrywide surveillance on face masks and established that some manufacturers were taking advantage to sell substandard masks.

The three brands are Wandas manufactured by Wandas General Supplies, Arax brand of masks by Arax Mills Ltd, and a brandless mask manufactured by Hela Intimates EPZ.

KEBS ordered the three manufacturers to discontinue manufacturing and recall its products from the market. It noted that the use of substandard medical face-masks is highly risky and increases the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

“The manufacturers are required to recall all the substandard masks from the market and institute corrective actions whose effectiveness shall be confirmed by KEBS before the suspension of the standardization mark permits is lifted. Manufacturers are also advised to strictly adhere to marking and labeling requirements as per the relevant Standard,” the regulator said in the statement.

KEBS further urged Kenyans and traders to verify the authenticity of any quality marks on the label product before purchasing face masks.

The agency appealed to members of the public to notify it when they find the substandard products in the market through its toll-free number 1545.

KEBS also published standards that must be met while manufacturing facemasks.

“The mask shall be made from four layers of fabric. These layers comprise an outer layer, filter layer, a unidirectional moisture layer, and an absorption layer, in that order,” said the regulator.

“All four layers shall be pleated horizontally with three pleats finished depth 15 mm and at the front of the mask the top pleat shall face upwards and the other two shall face downwards. The top edge of the mask shall be bound with tape to a depth of 15 mm, enclosing, on the front side, an aluminum strip and the top edge shall also be bound with a reinforcing strip to a depth of 20mm at the front of the mask and 10 mm at the back of the mask.”