PETALING JAYA: Several Malaysian manufacturers have teamed up to help the global fight against Covid-19 by boosting production of personal protective equipment (PPE) and specialised swab sticks for mass testing.
Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA) president Datuk Lim Kok Boon said manufacturers here have heeded the World Health Organisation's (WHO) recent announcement of a global shortage of PPE by producing five million pieces a month with the ability to ramp up production.
“We’ve gone from having minimal capacity for both uncoated and coated PPE to being able to produce more than five million pieces in under two months," he said in a recent statement.
He noted that at the peak of Covid-19 infections, the number of key PPE required was about three million pieces, which included isolation gowns, boot covers, jumpsuits, head covers, face shields and aprons.
He said that Fibertex Personal Care Sdn Bhd allocated 10mil square metres a month for PPE while San Miguel Yamamura Woven Products Sdn Bhd allocated coating capacity for 3.5 million square metres a month.
"These capacities are sufficient to produce 5 million pieces of PPE for the Health Ministry as well as other private healthcare institutions in Malaysia," Lim added.
Meanwhile, Federation of Malaysian Fashion and Textile Association (FMFTA) president Datuk Seri Tan Thian Poh said they have been tasked to help with the cutting and sewing of PPE.
“Sewing is largely labour intensive, hence we have identified 30 FMFTA members to ramp up the production.
"Our members will continue to deliver as long as the country is in need of PPE supplies," he added.
Meanwhile, a team of public health and medical experts from around Malaysia has been working with the MPMA and the Malaysian Petrochemicals Association (MPA) to produce some 1.2 million specialised swab sticks.
Universiti Malaya Medical Faculty Professor Dr Tan Maw Pin said that pre-clinical testing revealed that the swabs are performing well.
“Malaysia has a highly successful plastics industry which has been able to manufacture the polyester fibres and plastics shafts that make up the swabs, ” Dr Tan said.
"We are currently working to expedite the process of obtaining the necessary funding and approvals for clinical trials, as well as an approval from the Medical Devices Authority so that the swabs can go into production and distribution as soon as possible, ” she said.
She explained that the ability to conduct mass testing is critical to lifting the movement control order (MCO) and nasal swabs are critical to mass testing.
“Buying the millions of nose swabs needed from overseas is probably not feasible at this time, ” added Dr Tan.
Several local companies have been identified to produce the specialised swab sticks including Heveaplast (M) Sdn Bhd, Lotte Chemical Titan (M) Sdn Bhd, Silicon Creation Sdn Bhd and Recron Malaysia Sdn Bhd.