Makeshift hand gel lab flourishes in deserted Paris street

By Luis Miguel Pascual

Paris, Apr 18 (efe-epa).- A pop-up hand sanitizer laboratory looking to curtail a shortage of the product in France as the country confronts the coronavirus pandemic has flourished in a central street in Paris, a city temporarily robbed of tourists and pedestrians.

The makeshift industrial outlet, which was set up by pharmacist Frabian Bruno when the high demand for the product saw it disappear from shelves at the beginning of the crisis, is now producing 10,000 liters of the liquid each day.

“We didn’t produce these types of gels, but the World Health Organization asked all capable pharmacists to do so,” Bruno, director of the Delpech pharmacy and architect of the pop-up plant, tells Efe.

The demand for the product was such that many of his colleagues ran low at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. This prompted Bruno to launch a production line on a larger scale.

Under the lockdown in France, however, it was hard to find adequate installations so Bruno decided to take his tools to the street.

“The neighbors support us and help where they can,” Bruno says, despite the fact the street has been partially cut off – residents are required to use a small passageway to get to their houses.

As well as community support, Bruno and his team immediately received the backing of the authorities.

The perimeter of the makeshift lab is marked out by plastic barrels that once contained alcohol — a primary ingredient in the hand gel — but now contain water to lower the risk of fire.

Delivery trucks of alcohol continue to arrive at the lab, located in a street not far from the Latin Quarter, an area normally thronging with tourists but now deserted amid the nationwide confinement measures.

Around 15 people busy themselves making the product in accordance with WHO guidelines.

With time, the pharmacists ran into a problem when it became impossible to find the plastic containers for the gel.

Bruno’s ingenuity led him to an alternative. He decided to use plastic and cardboard receptacles more often associated with mass-produced wine.

“There’s a lot on the marker, they store well and help us with the distribution,” Bruno says, adding that the cartons allow them to continue to serve their clientele.

Most of his clients are fellow pharmacists, who collect the gel with their own containers.

“In addition to finding a solution, it is ecological and, for now, we have no supply problems,” Bruno says.

The gel is also sent to hospitals and to law enforcement officers monitoring the lockdown in the French capital.

Mohamed Ketani has worked at the Delpech pharmacy for years and recalls the huge demand for products he witnessed in the first few days of the crisis.

“When we weren’t running out of one thing we were running out of another,” he says .

The production of hand sanitizer at the pop-up lab has settled in recent days because other industries have turned to making the product.

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