WINNIPEG -- Workplace Health and Safety has approved a Manitoba-designed, reusable N95 mask, according to provincial health officials.

The masks, designed by a team of local doctors, have been created to meet the needs of front-line workers, as they can be sterilized and reused up to 30 times.

“There’s a lot of processes that go into making sure those masks are safe for our staff,” said Shared Health’s chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa at a news conference on May 15.

On May 8, CTV Winnipeg reported the province made an initial order of 500,000 of these masks, with the choice to order another 500,000 over the next 15 months.

When asked why the province ordered the masks before Workplace Health and Safety determined that they met the safety criteria, Siragusa said because things were looking positive.

“The fit testing, all the criteria that they would go through, from people breathing and talking with the masks on, were looking really good,” she said.

“We just had to go through the formal process of approval.”

The masks, which will be finalized and approved by Precision ADM, will be available to operating room staff around the province.