Doctors at Tygerberg Hospital have developed a very innovative way to keep their staff safe from COVID-19.
Doctors now have access to modified snorkel masks to help prevent them getting COVID-19 whilst intubating critically ill patients. These masks cover the whole face, forming a tight seal and are usually used for snorkelling in tropical waters.
They have been modified with the addition of a breathing filter where the snorkel would usually be. Using these full-face modified snorkel masks, the doctors are now completely protected from breathing in the COVID-19 virus whilst performing highly contagious airway procedures.
One of the hospital’s neonatologists and paediatricians, Dr Lizelle van Wyk, is an avid diver and was shown the mask by a diving colleague after Europe had started adapting the mask when the stock of normal N95 respirators became low.
She approached both Dr Jack Meintjies, occupational health, and Prof. Pierre Goussard, a paediatric pulmonologist, to modify and approve this mask.
The modified snorkel masks are now routinely used by the paediatricians for intubation and bronchoscopy in children suspected of being COVID-19 positive.