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As Lebanon suffers equipment shortages, these hero women are making coronavirus protective gear from scratch Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

As Lebanon suffers equipment shortages, these hero women are making coronavirus protective gear from scratch

Workers produce protective clothing at a textile factory in Sidon [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 March, 2020

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A group of women in Lebanon have lent their seamstress skills to sewing special anti-viral suits in an effort to protect health professionals from coronavirus.
A group of women in Lebanon are working hard to make sterile disposable coveralls for medical teams, nurses and rescuers in a bid to help in the coronavirus effort.

In the city of Saida, some twenty women, decked out in disposable masks and with hands protected by gloves, are using sewing machines to make the disposable medical equipment.

The women are part of a social enterprise charity that makes clothing in Lebanon called Machghal el-Oum, located in in the southern Governate of Saida.

Instead of making clothes, the women have switched to making coveralls that could be worn by medical professionals.

They have been working tirelessly since 22 February, when the first case of coronavirus appeared in Lebanon.

Currently, there are 149 cases in Lebanon and there have been four coronavirus-related deaths.

The disposable suits are insulating, water-repelling and anti-virus, and with concerns that medical supplies, including masks, are dwindling, such measures are particularly welcome, the L'Orient Le Jour reports.

The charity, in partnership with engineer Ahmad Ayoub, came up with the idea in response to the health crisis and the rising prices of disinfectant products.

These protective suits, he says, will be the perfect way for people to save money and stay protected.

Read More: Lebanon's medical students on the frontline in fighting coronavirus

The fabric is treated with several protective products including titanium, making them water-resistant and anti-viral, before they are given to a seamstress to sew.

Employees of a private company spray sanitising liquid around a bank in Beirut [Getty]

The workshop has strict hygiene rules to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and temperatures of the workers are checked daily to ensure they do not have a fever – one of the indications of coronavirus.

Usually, 40 women work there daily but due to the coronavirus risk, the number has decreased. "Because of the risks from coronavirus and the instructions from the Ministry of Health, their number has dropped to 25," said Wafa Wehbe, the director of the social enterprise.

The workshop produces between 150 to 200 suits per day and charges just $7 – just enough to cover the maintenance costs of the workshop.

The women have made over 1,000 overalls so far.

The price of such suits on the market is much higher, Ayoub says.

"This is not a commercial project, but a service that we are rendering to Lebanon as part of the war it is waging against this virus," said Wafa Wehbé.

Wehbé said the suits have already been given to NGO's, including the Lebanese Red Cross and Civil Defence.

Orders have been placed by hospitals in Saida, which wish to distribute them to their medical and nursing staff, as well as to their staff, should the epidemic worsen.

"We are trying to help as much as possible during this difficult time," she added.

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