Masks, ventilators, and door handles being developed across Wales to tackle coronavirus

Since the outbreak, doctors, scientists and designers have been working on ideas to stop coronavirus spreading.

For accurate and up to date information on coronavirus please go to If you’re outside the UK please see the information on coronavirus from your national and local authorities.

Last week we reported on the Covid Emergency Ventilator, which was developed by Dr Rhys Thomas, from Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen.

Rhys developed the device, which is not intended to replace an ICU ventilator, in just three days.

The BBC reports the Welsh Government has given the go ahead for production of up to a hundred ventilators a day.

Virustatic Shield, based at Menai Science Park (M-Sparc) in Gaerwen, Anglesey, has developed a “virus-killing” snood.

UMI News reports the device was invented by the company’s Technical Director Paul Hope. R&D involved world leading scientists from the University of Manchester and across the UK

The innovative anti-viral fabric coating traps 96% of airborne viruses. Tests show it is effective against pathogens such as coronavirus, SARS, MERS and the common cold. The super fine material is 100% breathable, which means it can be worn by people with extreme respiratory problems.

Paul Hope said “I’m concerned that the biggest provider of viruses, the people you are treating, can’t wear existing masks. Issues with breathability mean you can’t put a mask on them. If they could, that would reduce the virus within the hospital environment.

“Our snood mask moulds to your face. And it’s all the way around…not just around your nose and mouth. It fits everyone. One problem with conventional masks is how do you fit test them? If men wear them with a bit of a beard, or children wear them, they don’t fit. There are so many different configurations.”

Anna Roberts, Digital Marketing Co-Ordinator at Virustatic Shield, told the BBC “We have been working on the anti-viral coating since 2011 but it’s only in the last five weeks that we have developed the snood in response to the current pandemic.”

Another device to come out of M-Sparc is the Forearm door pull, designed by Wyn Griffiths, who came up with the idea after his wife visited a local hospital and had to touch door handles after sanitising her hands.

That evening he had designed a prototype “arm” which attaches to an existing door handle, with a crook to open the door.

He has distributed the 3D design online for anyone to download it for free.

He said “Hopefully people who have a 3D printer can help out their local hospital or anywhere the public visits by distributing these around the country.”

Pryderi ap Rhisiart, managing director of M-Sparc, said it was “vital” the park plays its part in coming up with innovative ideas.

He said “In the middle of all the doom and gloom it’s good to see small companies developing new innovative solutions.

“It’s just a glimpse. We’re not saying it’s the answer but it’s something.”

Last week we reported on David Sims, a Swansea engineer, who is 3D printing face shields for the NHS.

He’s not the only one. For example, Swansea University School of Engineering staff and students have been mass 3D printing protective masks for frontline medical staff in the fight against coronavirus.

Twenty five 3D printers are printing on the university’s Bay Campus and the team are aiming to produce over a hundred a day.

The Royal Mint has also developed and manufactured a medical visor to support NHS staff.

Following successful testing, the first visors are already in use in the Royal Glamorgan Hospital.

The team found a rudimentary design for a medical visor online, and began developing high specification prototypes – turning the concept into an approved design in just forty eight hours.

In addition, The Royal Mint has been supplying the local NHS with other essential PPE equipment from its stores, and offering Project Management support.

Engineers, who last Wednesday had never built a medical visor, can now produce one every twenty five seconds. The Royal Mint says over a thousand were made, packed and delivered to five hospitals yesterday.

The visors will initially be made available to Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, but the Royal Mint plans to produce thousands per day subject to securing enough raw components.

They are appealing for manufacturers across the UK to help source 1.0mm PET clear plastic which is currently in low supply. If you can help or know somebody who can, please contact

Leighton John, Director of Operations for The Royal Mint, said “My sister works for the NHS and it really focuses your mind on the challenges they are facing, and the opportunity we have to support them.

“On Wednesday at 9am we knew nothing about medical visors, but we set our engineers the task of developing essential medical equipment which could be easily made on site – within seven hours they’d created a medical visor, and within 48 hours it was approved for mass manufacture. We’ll shortly post the specifications on our website to enable other firms to make them too.

“We are now developing the production line, and urgently calling for help to source 1.0mm PET clear plastic which is in low supply across the UK. We believe firms will have this in stock, and we’d urge them to get in touch with us so we can continue to support our NHS.”

Dr Sharon Hopkins, CEO of Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB, said “We are incredibly grateful to The Royal Mint for this work. This equipment will be vitally important for our frontline staff to protect themselves and others as they work to respond to the COVID19 pandemic. It is also an excellent example of teams working collaboratively to provide safer environments for our staff and patients.

“The generosity of organisations such as the Royal Mint as well as our communities has been humbling and I would like to thank everyone for their continued support for our staff and the NHS.”

The Royal Mint has worked with its key suppliers, including Brammer, TJ Morgan and Technical Foam Services, to source the components needed to make the visors.

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