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For decades, plastics have been viable and convenient material of choice in the medical field. From disposable syringes to surgical instruments and highly-sophisticated parts of MRI scanners, all have integrated the use of plastics to save human lives. Now once again, plastics have come to the rescue of humankind, protecting and saving many lives each day. With the help of plastic protective gear such as face shields, gowns, masks, gloves, and goggles, we now have an excellent shot at overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic.
Usually made from polypropylene materials, protective garments such as caps and gowns are been extensively used by medical professionals to reduce the spread of infection. Goggles manufactured from polycarbonate resins also offer enhanced protection and can be worn for long periods. Furthermore, plastic face shields, surgical gloves, and polypropylene disposable masks are been widely used by the essential workers, vendors, police, and citizens to limit the transmission and stay protected. IV bags and infusion sets that are made from PVC are also witnessing extensive use in hospitals to treat patients and avoid contamination from bloodstreams.
Speaking of the production of plastic protection, India is witnessing a rising demand. The reason being, plastic gears are one of the most effective materials used to prevent the transmission of the virus. To successfully combat this threat, World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that 89 million protective masks, 76 million surgical gloves, and 1.6 million eyewear will be required each month until the global threat lasts. WHO has already provided almost half a million plastic protective equipment to 47 countries. However, supplies seem to be rapidly running out.
During these challenging times, the government is turning towards the plastic industry to meet the increasing demands. According to the head of Polymer Engineering Institue of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, DD Kale stated that “The use of plastic gloves, gowns, face shields, and goggles is proving to be a huge savior of the human lives and is preventing the transmission of the infection from one individual to another.”
Media reports suggest that there is a shortage of personal protective gear across various parts of the world. People have been turning towards alternate safety gear using plastic bottles, plastic laundry bags, plastic jars, and plastic sheets. Even though these DIY measures seem to be effective, thanks to plastics, they are still unsafe if they are not responsibly disposed of. India too could be witnessing this trend of homemade protective gear if there is a shortage of availability. To ensure that the citizens of India receive proper protection, the government is encouraging and providing immense support to the plastic industry.
There is no doubt that without plastics, the fight against COVID-19 would have extremely difficult and could have lead to greater loss of life. We have only medical professionals, essential workers, police, and plastics to thank for protecting us from this global pandemic. In the long run, protecting public health and the manufacture of plastic protective gear is bound to go hand in hand.