Feature: Cuban entrepreneurs make face shields to help combat COVID-19

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, May 6, 2020
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by Yosley Carrero

HAVANA, May 5 (Xinhua) -- Ivan Diaz, a Cuban private entrepreneur who owns a print shop in historical downtown Havana, has changed his working routine by making face shields to support health workers since first coronavirus cases were reported on the island in March.

"It is a totally new experience to me. But I strongly believe that whenever we care about others' wellbeing, we are also doing it for ourselves," he told Xinhua.

Diaz, 46, who has so far made more than 600 manually manufactured face shields for medical staff working on frontline or intensive care rooms at Havana hospitals, does not work alone.

As school classes remain suspended during the outbreak, Yuniel Mirabal, 13, who is Diaz's elder son, uses his leisure time helping his father and learning new skills.

"I use scissors as well as 3D printing machines. I feel my father is doing something important. I want to be like him," he said.

Face shields are made from materials such as single plastic, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and elastic, which are supplied through a crowdfunding scheme involving state companies, joint ventures, private business and ordinary citizens.

Diaz's initiative has received donations from Acosta dance company led by Cuban Royal Ballet superstar Carlos Acosta, Enrique Nunez Jimenez foundation, Havana Club S.A rum manufacturer, and Cuban National Ballet, which is also responsible for transporting face shields to medical centers.

Heriberto Cabezas, a member of the committee organizing the Cuban International Ballet Festival, coordinates the delivery of face shields and manage a social media group connecting doctors, entrepreneurs and donors.

"Once the face shields are made, the drivers collect them and go to hospitals where medical workers receive the shipment at the entrance," he said.

The majority of this initiative's members have only contacted each other by phone and via internet because of the COVID-19 restrictions and are waiting for the end of the pandemic to meet at Diaz's print shop which they only have seen in pictures.

Among health workers who have worn manually-made face shields and campaigned online in favor of the project is Israel Morales, a Cuban doctor at Juan Manuel Marquez pediatric hospital.

The 32-year-old anesthetist has treated children confirmed with the coronavirus and said these face shields meet the standards required for work in hospitals.

"These protective face shields are highly useful at the moment since they help us to protect our mouth, eyes and nose from droplets containing the virus as well as other diseases transmitted through blood or airways," he told Xinhua.

Cuba has reported 1,685 confirmed cases of COVID-19 by Tuesday morning. Havana stands as the epicenter of the epidemic in the Caribbean nation with nearly half of the country's total number of cases.

Currently nearly 600,000 people own private business on the island, with 130,000 of whom living in Havana, according to Cuba's Ministry of Labor. Dozens of private entrepreneurs, along with scientific centers all over the country, have also started to make medical supplies to help combat COVID-19. Enditem

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