Thai scientists are developing Level 4 bio-hazard suits to reduce the country’s reliance on import of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 crisis. The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) and the textile industry are collaborating on ‘gold standard’ protective suits after successfully developing level 2 suits, according to public health ministry permanent secretary Dr. Sopon Mekthon. GPO, the Textile Industry Development Institute and the Textile Federation of Thailand are producing 100,000 sets of their ‘We Fight’ edition Level 2 PPE suits, which will be ready for delivery in June and July. The level 2 suits are made from polyester fabric with a waterproof coating, and can be washed for reuse up to 20 times. They will be delivered to hospitals to reduce the expense on imports and support domestic indigenous development and manufacture of medical equipment.

The level 2 suit protects medial staff from low to medium infection risk, enabling them to safely care for patients who don’t need a respirator, to collect samples and to screen patients. The first batch of 44,000 suits are expected to be delivered by the end of May, each worth around Bt 500.

The primary development focus is on the production of level 2 PPE, which accounts for up to 80 per cent of the protective gear used during the COVID-19 crisis. Level 4 PPE is used only in cases of high risk.