PETALING JAYA: Several of the nation’s manufacturing sectors have banded together to help the global fight against Covid-19 by boosting production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including specialised swab sticks for mass testing.
Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA) president Datuk Lim Kok Boon said manufacturers in the country had heeded the World Health Organisation’s 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 over five million pieces in under two months.
“Malaysia’s manufacturing sector has demonstrated that we have the agility to expand our capacity further and adapt during a critical stage,” he said in a recent statement.
He said during the peak of Covid-19 cases, the number of key PPE required was about three million pieces, including isolation gowns, boot covers, jumpsuits, head covers, face shields and aprons.
He said Fibertex Personal Care Sdn Bhd was allocating 10 million sq m a month for PPE, while
San Miguel Yamamura Woven Products Sdn Bhd had set aside 3.5 million sq m a month for coating capacity.
“These capacities are sufficient to produce five million pieces of PPE for the Health Ministry as well as other private healthcare institutions in Malaysia,” added Lim.
Federation of Malaysian Fashion and Textile Association’s (FMFTA) Datuk Seri Tan Thian Poh said they had been tasked to help with the cutting and sewing of PPE.
“Sewing is largely labour intensive. We have identified 30 members to ramp up production. Our members will continue to deliver as long as the country is in need of PPE supplies,” he said.
A team of public health and medical experts from around Malaysia has also been working with the MPMA and the Malaysian Petrochemicals Association to produce some 1.2 million specialised swab sticks.
Universiti Malaya’s Medical Faculty Professor Dr Tan Maw Pin said pre-clinical testing revealed that the usage of the swabs had received positive feedback.
“Malaysia has a highly successful plastics industry which has been able to manufacture the polyester fibres and plastic shafts making up the swabs.
“We are currently working to expedite the process of obtaining the necessary funding and approvals for clinical trials, as well as approval from the Medical Devices Authority so that the swabs can go into production and distribution as soon as possible,” she said.
She said nose swabs were critical for mass testing, which was itself critical to lifting the movement control order.
“Buying the millions of nose swabs needed from overseas is probably not feasible at this time,” said Dr Tan.
Several local companies have been identified to produce the specialised swab sticks – Heveaplast (M) Sdn Bhd, Lotte Chemical Titan (M) Sdn Bhd, Silicon Creation Sdn Bhd and Recron Malaysia Sdn Bhd.
Dr Tan is part of the team of experts from Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Hospital Pulau Pinang, Perdana Universiti-Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Malaya’s Medical Faculty.