As the number of recorded Covid-19 cases continues to climb in South Africa, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) has entered its fourth month of producing protective face shields at its Silverton assembly plant, in Pretoria.
To date, the vehicle manufacturer has assembled 285 000 face shields, with the focus on assisting the South African government’s efforts to limit the spread of the virus, while also protecting frontline medical workers and public health officials.
Gauteng now has the highest number of cases in South Africa, followed by the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, with between 8 000 and 10 000 new cases being reported daily.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives in immeasurable ways, and forced everyone to rethink everything from the way we do business, go about our everyday tasks such as shopping and schooling, and even how we interact with family and friends,” says FMCSA MD Neale Hill.
“It has also united humanitarian organisations and the general public in support of the Covid-19 health initiatives, and in reaching out to the most vulnerable members of our society.”
The shields, which wrap around the user’s face, protect the user’s eyes, nose and mouth from exposure to the coronavirus.
It consists of a clear polyethylene shield, polyurethane foam padding and an elastic latex fabric headband to keep it in place.
Each unit is packaged with instructions on how to wear the shield correctly, along with cleaning and storage guidelines.
They are reusable and should be sanitised after each use, and are designed to be worn with a cloth face mask that covers the nose and mouth.
The shields have been in production at the Silverton assembly plant since the beginning of April, with all of the funds received from FMCSA, Ford dealers, suppliers and business partners, as well as the Absa Group, going directly into purchasing face shield materials.
Ford has sponsored the labour costs for the assembly and packaging effort, with up to 85 employees involved in the production line located in a temporary, sanitised facility at the plant.
“Through the various contributions received, we have so far managed to donate almost 140 000 face shields to the Department of Health’s centralised warehouse in Centurion,” explains FMCSA Operations VP Ockert Berry.
“We have also supported various hospitals, clinics, old age homes and nonprofit organisations with face shield donations.”
Over 1 100 face shields were also recently donated to 25 wildlife conservation and education projects around the country that are supported by the Ford Wildlife Foundation.
“We have also just delivered the final batch of the 50 000 face shields procured by the US Department of Defense,” says Berry.