Malaysians send 3D-printed masks, meals to front-line coronavirus medics

Volunteers stepped up to produce hundreds of face shields at a workshop with 3D-printing and carving machine

Reuters April 03, 2020
Picture taken on March 26, 2020 shows a man holding a respirator made with 3D technology and aimed for use in the combat against the COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 new coronavirus at the Skoda Auto company in Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic. - Czech carmaker Skoda Auto switches to printing respirators of the highest class amid the virus spread. Shuttered over the coronavirus infection, the unit of Germany's Volkswagen produces 60 sophisticated face masks a day. Its prototype and model department is using a design by the Czech Technical University. The certified FFP3-class face masks are made of polyamide powder and some silicone and can be reused after disinfection. The components printed at Skoda are equipped with a filter at a Prague company. They are primarily designed for doctors and nurses. For now, Skoda is responsible for financing the production of the gear whose costs reach five euros a piece. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LAMPUR: From 3D-printed protective face shields to meal deliveries, Malaysian volunteer groups are stepping up to help medical workers on the front line of the campaign against the coronavirus.

Malaysia has one of the most serious coronavirus outbreaks in the region with more than 3,000 infections. After reports of medical staff were facing a shortage of protective gear, an army of volunteers stepped up to produce hundreds of face shields at a workshop with 3D-printing and carving machines.

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“The demand for these is very, very high,” William Koong, a member of the volunteer collective, told Reuters at the workshop in Subang Jaya, about 20 km from the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Koong’s collective, which has dozens of members, is one of many groups in Malaysia volunteering to make personal protective equipment (PPE) as calls for it have grown.

“Every hospital needs about 40,000 pieces of PPE,” Koong said.

“That means not only face shields but tied-back suits, masks, goggles, shoe covers and gloves.”

Another group, Just Serving, is preparing meals to be delivered to front-line staff working overtime in hospitals and clinics.

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“We found out they have an issue with getting meals, in fact, many of them were just living off coffee, so it’s just our way of giving back to them for what they have done for us,” said Venothan Vimalanathan, who initiated the project.

At least 80 Malaysian health workers have been infected by the virus, the health ministry has said.

Malaysia has imposed a month-long restriction on travel and movement that will end on April 14.

The World Health Organization has warned that medical workers are dangerously ill-equipped to fight the virus, with many also facing the huge pressure of living under lockdown.


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