• Kyodo


A creative solution to protect health care providers at high risk of contracting the coronavirus amid the global shortage of personal protective equipment is attracting interest throughout the world, including in Japan.

The Aerosol Box, created and shared online by Lai Hsien-yung, an anesthesiologist from Taiwan, is a transparent box shielding a provider’s face from aerosol particles contaminated by the virus while intubating an infected patient, many of whom develop respiratory failure.

“I felt that I was protected,” said Takahiro Kusume, 32, a doctor on the front line of an anti-coronavirus team at a university hospital in Tokyo.

This month he asked his brother, who owns a design studio in Kobe, to make the product based on the design shared online by Lai.

“I feel safe even when my face has to come close to a patient during my work,” said a male doctor in his 50s at a medical facility in Osaka who is developing measures to prevent infections among staff and patients at the institution. “We bought two of them to prepare for an increase in the number of patients.”

The Aerosol Box is a transparent boxlike structure that can be cheaply made using acrylic or transparent polycarbonate sheet, according to the website, which gives design specifications.

It covers the head of the patient lying on the bed, with the health care provider sticking his or her arms in two holes on one side of the box.

The box “effectively shields a provider’s face from a patient’s airway, while allowing the provider to move his/her arms freely to perform all necessary tasks during endotracheal intubation,” the website explains, adding that the box can be cleaned thoroughly with a solution of 70 percent alcohol or bleach to be reused for the next patient.

Lai, 52, who works at the Mennonite Christian Hospital in Hualien, eastern Taiwan, said he was inspired by baby incubators.

As hospitals, overwhelmed by the rising numbers of coronavirus patients, are running out of N95 masks and other protective equipment, Lai didn’t submit a patent application, preferring to put it online at the end of March to deploy it rapidly across the globe.

“I made this box to protect the doctors who are fighting on the front line,” Lai explained. He said he hopes “people (all) over the world can build and modify (them) by themselves.”

Medical teams from countries that have been hit hard by the virus, including the United States and Spain, have tested and reported their experiences with the simple contraption as they adapt it in the field.

One adaptation is an Aerosol Box that can be folded and shipped easily to be reassembled at its destination within a minute.

A Japanese acrylic company in Osaka named Act started receiving orders for the Aerosol Box in mid-March and is producing around 40 a day.

The company says it takes around 30 minutes to produce one, with a wholesale price of less than ¥10,000.

“We can make the product on the day we receive the order,” said Act President Tetsuo Taniguchi, 70.

The company, which has around 10 employees, also make face shields for face-to-face meetings.

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