Doctors at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town have developed an innovative way to protect themselves from COVID-19.

Thanks to their creativity, medics now have access to modified snorkel masks to help prevent them from contracting the deadly virus while intubating critically ill patients.

“These masks cover the whole face, forming a tight seal and are usually used for snorkelling in tropical waters,” the hospital said.

“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.”

The idea originated in Europe when engineers changed the snorkels into medical masks after hospitals ran out personal protective equipment at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Tygerberg Hospital’s neonatologist and paediatrician, Dr Lizelle van Wyk, bought into the idea when she heard about it.

Van Wyk, who is an avid diver, then approached her colleagues Dr Jack Meintjies and Professor Pierre Goussard 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,” the hospital said.

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