Thousands more face masks have been found with crumbling elastic and deemed unfit for purpose in the fight against Covid-19.
Earlier this month it was revealed there were 90,000 masks with corrupted elastic at Capital and Coast DHB and a further 10,000 at Hutt Valley DHB.
South Canterbury DHB has since reported there were 58,000 N95 masks in its pandemic stock, but due to their age, guidance has been sought from the Ministry of Health on whether they could be used during the Covid-19 pandemic, DHB chief executive Nigel Trainor said.
The earliest batches of the N95 masks in the DHB's pandemic stock were purchased in 2005.
The Ministry of Health has provided the South Canterbury DHB with replacement masks while this decision was being made, Trainor said.
"The South Canterbury DHB sought guidance from the Ministry of Health, due to the age of the N95 masks and the boxes not having any visible manufacturer expiration date.
"There was degradation of elastic straps identified on some of the N95 masks, and a concern was raised about the efficacy of the mask to filter particulate", Trainor said.
Because the Ministry provided replacement masks immediately, the issue did not affect the DHB's supply, he said.
Canterbury DHB has also since confirmed 3,450 of its masks have been deemed unfit for purpose.
The masks were manufactured in 2008 and the elastic was found to have degraded over time, a DHB spokeswoman said.
The masks were supplied by the Ministry of Health from Quality Safety about a month ago and the problem had a minimal effect on the DHB's overall supply, she said.
Hawke's Bay DHB confirmed it also discovered some masks had deteriorated prior to the pandemic being declared when stocks were being checked.
"HBDHB has had enough PPE stock for this not to impact on HBDHB's response to Covid-19. The masks that had deteriorated have been set aside to see if it is possible to re-purpose them in the future", a spokesperson said.
The DHB did not report how many masks were found to be deteriorated.
Meanwhile, Capital and Coast and Hutt Valley DHBs had originally planned to replace the elastic in the 100,000 masks deemed unfit for purpose so they could be used in non-clinical areas.
But director of provider services Joy Farley told the Herald they had since decided to discontinue with the repair job as testing of the retro-fitted masks showed they were not reliably fit for purpose.
The retro-fitted masks have been decommissioned and removed from operational stock.
The two DHBs have not discovered any further issues or problems with their stock, Farley said.
"[We] are confident that with these masks – as well as those provided by the Ministry of Health – we have adequate stocks."
The DHBs have also since improved processes for regularly examining pandemic supplies in storage to minimise the risk of the same thing happening again, she said.
The other DHB in the Wellington region, Wairarapa, confirmed it has not experienced similar issues and routinely checked and rotated its reserve stock on a regular basis.
The northern region DHBs, which include Northland, Waitematā, Auckland and Counties Manukau, have completed stock control and found no issues with perished PPE.
Taranaki, MidCentral, Lakes, Nelson Marlborough, and Southern DHBs also didn't find any problems.
Many of the DHBs which reported no problems said they tested masks and regularly rotated their pandemic stock.
A Nelson Marlborough DHB spokeswoman said they looked into any potential issues early on.
"We pulled some of our oldest mask stock to do a randomised check did not find this problem. In addition, there have been no reported incidences of rot from those we've supplied masks to, to date."