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

A health worker rests at KPJ Damansara Specialist Hospital, in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, on March 28, 2020.
PHOTO: Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR - 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 that 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.

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

Mr 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," he 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.

"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 Mr 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 is slated to end on April 14.

The World Health Organisation 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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