Protective gear to safeguard those fighting Covid-19 | Sunday Observer

Protective gear to safeguard those fighting Covid-19

As the Covid 19 pandemic rampages across the world the stories coming from the affected areas have been devastating. Many have been about death and great human suffering. But despite the adversity, remarkable stories of human ingenuity and generosity have also become commonplace across the world and even in Sri Lank giving rise to hope and courage to those fighting in the frontlines against the disease. Not limiting their efforts to merely supporting one’s community during this troubled period, ordinary citizens have also stepped up to support the authorities in their fight against Covid 19. Some have contributed to the cause by making and donating protective gear to safeguard those fighting Covid 19 and ordinary civilians. Others have even gone on to invent customized medical equipment such as ICU beds, ventilators, and even robots.

Among the many people contributing their time and efforts to Sri Lanka’s fight against Covid 19 is businessman Sanjeewa Ganegoda. Ganegoda is the owner of a protective helmet manufacturing company in Thalapathpitiya, Nugegoda which now manufactures improvised protective gear for Gramaseva Officers, Public Health Inspectors (PHI), Police Officers and Military personnel engaged in combating Covid 19. The gear which is being manufactured by Ganegoda consists of a helmet with a face protection visor and a protective reusable covering to be worn underneath the helmet. “They can be disinfected and reused,” he said. Ganegoda has up to date donated over 6,000 of these protective helmets, free of charge.

According to Ganegoda the idea first dawned on him when he visited the Mirihana Police station in a bid to secure a curfew pass. “I saw that most Police Officers who were to be deployed for disinfection duties did not have the proper gear,” he said adding that initially, his intention was to only manufacture the necessary protection equipment for the Nugegoda Police Division. But as more requests came trickling in from across the country, Ganegoda said he decided to provide the helmet made by him for all those who requested it. “I have now donated over 6,000 of these helmets,” he said.

Among those who have benefitted from his efforts are the Police, PHIs, Gramaseva Officers, Airport staff, military and now even hospitals. “My intention was to offer some form of protection to the officers in these categories as it is they who often first interact with those who are possibly infected” he explained. But according to Ganegoda hearing about the gear the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH), Homagama Base Hospital and the Ratnapura Base Hospital among others also requested helmets made by him.

Commending Ganegoda for his generosity and support, SSP Geethal Laksiri heading the Nugegoda Police Division said the protective helmet provided by Gengoda provides the necessary protection for officials dealing with the public among who there could be people infected with Covid 19. “Compared to the gear we have been using, this provides better protection to our officers’’ he added. According to SSP Laksiri, the Nugegoda Division has received 100 helmets donated by Ganegoda.

But the manufacturing process has not been without its difficulties. While his company has nearly 100 workers the lockdown meant many had returned to their hometowns. “Only the office staff has remained,” he said, adding that hearing about the donations, people in nearby areas have volunteered to help manufacture the helmets. At a time when business is non-existent for his company Ganegoda says he is determined to help, nevertheless.

“Usually a helmet would cost around Rs. 790, with the addition of the cover and visor the ones made especially to combat the disease would cost more,” he said adding that however, he has not calculated the cost of his donations. Initially intending to donate only helmets required by the Nugegoda area for relevant staff Ganegoda says he will continue to donate helmets to those in the frontlines combatting Covid 19 across the island. “As long as requests keep coming I will provide these officers with the necessary protective gear till this disease is defeated,” he said.