Automaker joins fight against COVID-19 in Eastern Cape

20 May 2020 | Web Article Number: ME202019117

Disaster Management
Government & Municipal
Occupational Health
Social Development
Automaker joins fight against COVID-19 in Eastern Cape

MERCEDES-Benz South Africa Limited (MBSA) says it will assist in the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic in the Eastern Cape by manufacturing 3D-printed, recyclable plastic face shields for use in mass screening, clinics and hospitals.

In addition, and pending quality assurance regulatory approval, the company will also manufacture and supply Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) breathing aid devices from its East London Manufacturing Plant for the provincial Department of Health.

MBSA said in a statement that its East London Manufacturing Plant re-opened 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, which deliver oxygen to the lungs without needing a ventilator.

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.

CPAP devices are non-invasive breathing aid devices, which provide a constant, steady pressure to keep the lungs expanded. According to MBSA, reports from Italy indicate that approximately 50% of patients given CPAP have avoided the need for invasive mechanical ventilation.

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.

Commenting on this development, CEO 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 3-D printed face shields for essential medical services personnel working on the front-lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in public hospitals.

“The CPAP devices 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.”

During the non-production period of the lockdown, 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.

Pending regulatory approval from local medical licencing authorities, MBSA will manufacture CPACP breathing devices from its manufacturing plant. Once approved, MBSA anticipates that it will be able to manufacture more than 1000 face shields and CPAP devices per month.

“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.

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