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COVID-19:Denel among SOEs lending expertise towards SA production of ventilators

Denel has responded to a call from the Department of Public Enterprises to drive the ventilator project, in preparation for a possible surge in the number of hospitalised patients requiring this specialised piece of equipment.

Picture: @DenelSOC/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – State-owned entities and other research bodies are teaming up to produce South Africa’s own mechanical ventilators.

Under Project Sabela, arms producer Denel is lending its resources and expertise to produce medical ventilators in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company has responded to a call from the Department of Public Enterprises to drive the ventilator project, in preparation for a possible surge in the number of hospitalised patients requiring this specialised piece of equipment.

A mechanical ventilator takes over the breathing of a patient, who cannot do so on their own while undergoing surgery or because they are critically ill.

Engineers from Denel’s Dynamics and Aeronautics Divisions are working with medical technology companies to produce South Africa’s own ventilators.

Armscor, Eskom, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and other entities are also joining the initiative to investigate designs and manufacture a prototype of a locally produced medical ventilator.

Denel is also considering other initiatives like repurposing its current operations and technology to produce sanitizers for industrial or medical use and convert its Casspir mine-protected vehicles into field ambulances.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, the Gauteng health department made an appeal for donations of personal protective equipment and ventilators to help fight the spread of COVID-19 in the province.

With more than 45% of the country's infections in Gauteng, the department said the fight against the pandemic will require a joint effort from all sectors of society.

The World Health Organisation has warned that a global shortage of essential protective equipment poses a serious threat to combatting the highly infectious disease.