Three Vietnamese school students have designed a helmet that allows frontline health workers to have a snack or even scratch their nose without exposing themselves to the risks of coronavirus infection.
The pandemic has thrown a spotlight on the trade-off at times between the comfort and safety of protective personal equipment (PPE), especially for workers who are required to suit up in such outfits for hours on end.
To address this problem, students were set a challenge to design a helmet connected to a respirator that not only protects but allows frontline workers to remain productive for longer.
The group came up with the “Vihelm”, a portmanteau of Vietnam and helmet.
It has a glove box access so a wearer can fit their hand inside and, for example, wipe sweat off their face or clean a visor while keeping the helmet sealed.
“A big difference with this helmet is the glove box. You can use it to interact with your face safely,” said Tran Nguyen Khanh An, 14, one of the students who won a “Best Invention Design Award” at the International Invention Innovation Competition in Canada last month for their design.
The futuristic looking helmet also has an internal compartment that can hold a snack for a frontline worker and is attached by a tube to a powered air-purifying respirator to exclude contaminated air.
While such respirators are considered significantly safer than standard masks, they can be far more uncomfortable than other forms of PPE.
The Vihelm, which currently costs under $300 to make, even has pockets around the head area that allow users to give the area a scratch if the device starts rubbing in the area.
VinSmart, a unit of Vietnam’s largest conglomerate Vingroup that has been producing ventilators, has signed an agreement to help the students mass produce their final version of the helmet.
*Malaysian authorities yesterday reminded the public to avoid physical contact, including fist bumps as a form of greeting, as the number of new coronavirus cases in the country climbed to a three-month high.
The fist bump, where two people briefly press their closed fists together, has replaced the traditional handshake in popularity as people around the world sought to limit the spread of the pandemic.
But Malaysia’s top health official said any form of physical contact presents the risk of infection and reminded people to maintain a distance of at least 1m (3.3ft).
“This is why we’re telling people not to fist bump,” the Director-General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah told reporters.
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