Covid-19: Mercedes to use machines to produce shields and breathing devices

2020-05-17 10:39
A N95 mask. (Getty)

A N95 mask. (Getty)

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Car manufacturing giant Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) has joined the government's fight against Covid-19 by announcing a monthly manufacturing and distribution of 1 000 recyclable 3D printed face shields and Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) breathing devices at its East London plant.

MBSA spokesperson Thato Mntambo said the breathing devices delivered oxygen to the lungs without the need for ventilators.

She said the personal protective equipment would be delivered to nurses at hospitals and clinics which they can use during the screening and testing of patients.

The company announced in a statement on Friday that the east plant followed in the footsteps of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team in the United Kingdom, which was the first to manufacture the PPEs.

Mntambo said: "The MBSA East London Manufacturing Plant reopened under Alert Level 4 restrictions, on 4 May 2020 in accordance to stringent occupational health and safety risk management systems and protocols and will use its capacity to manufacture face shields and CPAP devices. The CPAP breathing aid devices have been used extensively in hospitals in countries hardest hit by Covid-19 to assist patients with serious respiratory problems to breathe more easily, when oxygen via a face mask alone has proven insufficient."

READ | Mkhize reiterates that nurses without PPEs will not be allowed to care for patients

The CPAP devices are non-invasive breathing aid devices that provide a constant, steady pressure to keep the lungs expanded. Reports from Italy indicate that approximately 50% of patients who were given CPAP avoided the need for invasive mechanical ventilation, Mntambo said.

"It is anticipated that the CPAP devices provided by MBSA will also assist with reducing the burden on public health facilities based in the Eastern Cape, which is expected to experience a surge in coronavirus patients."

CEO of MBSA and director of manufacturing Andreas Engling, said: "As a symbol of solidarity with the Eastern Cape provincial government and its people, MBSA saw the need to use its over 70 years of manufacturing excellence to produce medical equipment in the form of 3D printed face shields for essential medical services personnel working on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic in public hospitals. The CPAP devices announced today will also assist coronavirus patients by keeping them out of intensive care with breathing support and reduce the burden on public health facilities based in the Eastern Cape."

The idea by MBSA was explored during the non-production period of the lockdown, said Mntambo. The manufacturing will kickstart as soon as MBSA gets regulatory approval from local medical licensing authorities, said Mntambo. 

READ | We must be prepared to live with coronavirus for a year or even more - Ramaphosa

"MBSA explored the feasibility of developing CPAP devices for manufacture. With this decision, MBSA is following example of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team based in the UK by preparing its machines, which under normal circumstances, would produce automobile components, to develop these breathing aids," she added. 

"The dimensions and complexities of the Covid-19 pandemic require every member of society to pool its resources and capabilities to inhibit further contagion. As a responsible corporate citizen, we recognise the importance of supporting the Eastern Cape provincial Department of Health to be as prepared as possible to provide the best adequate treatment to patients. We are constantly monitoring the situation related to Covid-19 and will take further action as required in order to safeguard the health and safety of the people of the Eastern Cape during this challenging time," Engling said.

Read more on:    mercedes benz  |  south africa  |  lockdown  |  coronavirus
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