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N.B. company and N.S. university make 3D printed face shields for health care workers

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WATCH: A New Brunswick beverage producer has altered its production to start making protective face shields for frontline health-care workers battling COVID-19. Shelley Steeves reports. – Apr 3, 2020

A New Brunswick beverage producer has altered its production to start making protective face shields for frontline healthcare workers battling COVID-19.

Pollen Angels, a mead beverage producer in Fredericton, is using the company’s 3D printer to make badly needed protective face shields for medical workers.

“We have repurposed those printers to produce face shields for health care workers to fill a possible shortage,” said John Way, the owner of Pollen Angels.

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Way said he’s fielding calls from various health authorities looking for as many as 1,000 face shields at a time.

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But he said that it’s impossible to keep up with demand because the 3D printing process is slow.

So, he’s calling on reinforcements.

“Anyone who can spare the machine time and the filament should start right now so we can begin building a stockpile, however small each location does,” Way said.

A working group at Dalhousie University is also printing its own version of the headbands.

The shields are now being donated to emergency dental offices and private practice doctors, said Clifton Johnston, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

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Johnston said that most shields made on 3D printers are for single-use. He said the plastic is often unable to withstand the high-temperature disinfection process used by hospitals.

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“If you put it in the autoclave, it would actually melt the plastic,” Johnston said.

He said that some plastics also don’t stand up well to bleach disinfectants.

While he said the university is working with local businesses on developing a shield using tougher plastic moulds that can be mass-produced, they will continue to print out as many single-use 3D printer shields as possible.

“We can make about 1,000 a week, probably. Injection moulding, they can make 10,000 a week,” he said.

READ MORE: Ontario projects just under 1,600 COVID-19 deaths, 80,000 cases by end of April

Neither the university nor Way have had their shields formally approved by Health Canada.

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Both say they are just trying to provide health care workers with back-up options until more shields can be mass-produced.

Way said his goal is to prevent even one death of a health care worker.

“I don’t believe anyone should stand by and let that happen if there is anything no matter how small that you can do help.”

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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