AGARTALA: A doctor from Tripura has developed a PPE face shield costing only Rs 40, to protect frontline medical personnel from contracting COVID-19 while treating patients.
A face shield is a protective gear with a transparent visor attached to a headband.
It protects the wearer from coming in contact with respiratory droplets through which, according to the World Health Organisation, the novel coronavirus spreads.
Dr Arkadipta Choudhury, an assistant professor at the Tripura Medical College (TMC), said that he developed the face shield, 'Stopdrop', using readily available inexpensive materials.
With the coronavirus outbreak affecting the delivery of products, Dr Choudhury made the face shield using compressed polyester, inexpensive straps, and visors.
The medical institution he is employed in, procured 300 pieces of 'Stopdrop' after rigorously testing the product and placed an order for 2,000 more units at the rate of Rs 40 per piece.
"The manufacturing cost of a face shield used in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is only Rs 20-25, but is sold in the range of Rs 250 to Rs 499 in pharmacies and online retail platforms," the 31-year-old medical practitioner told PTI.
"According to the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Health, PPE kits, including face shields, are given only to personnel treating confirmed COVID-19 patients. However, with the number of asymptomatic patients on the rise, the medical personnel are at a higher risk of contracting the disease," he said.
His products are already in use in the ENT, ophthalmology and gastroenterology departments and at the OPD of the hospital.
"The virus we are dealing with is a respiratory one which enters the body through mouth or nose. So, I helped the medical personnel cover their faces," he said.
Dr Arindam Dutta, Medical Superintendent of the hospital and chairman of the institution's COVID-19 task force, said, "We are using the face shields at our hospital. Doctors are very happy and find them very handy. Dr Choudhury has also made slight modifications to the face shields as per the requirements of various departments."
ENT Department head Dr Prabir Saha said Dr Choudhury's face shield effectively prevents medical personnel from coming in contact with respiratory droplets.
"When medical personnel collects samples from a patient's mouth, he or she is at risk of contracting the disease. Dr Choudhury's face shield is very useful as PPE is issued only to personnel dealing with confirmed COVID-19 patients," he said.
Dr Shivasekhar Dutta, a professor of preventive medicine at the hospital, said 'Stopdrop' is entirely Dr Choudhury's brainchild.
"The device can also be useful for police personnel and journalists.
We will approach the trademark office in Kolkata to get a design approval for starting commercial production," Dr Choudhury said.