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‘Negative Pressure Isolation Canopy will stop patients from spreading coronavirus in hospitals’

  • Published at 11:18 pm July 11th, 2020
The first prototype of the Negative Pressure Isolation Canopy, developed by Prof Rabbani’s team, being demonstrated at BSMMU. The blue box beside the bed houses the UVC disinfection chamber and the HEPA filter Courtesy

The research was jointly conducted by Dhaka University (DU) and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU)

A group of researchers has claimed to have developed a ‘Negative Pressure Isolation Canopy’ which can contain the spread of contagious diseases like Covid-19 by patients to others in a hospital setting. 

The research was jointly conducted by Dhaka University (DU) and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU). Several other people from different organizations participated in the research, aimed at reducing the high Covid-19 transmission rate among health workers.

The research team leader, Prof Khondkar Siddique-e-Rabbani, founding chairperson and now an honorary professor of Biomedical Physics and Technology Department of DU, announced the development at a virtual press conference on Saturday.

The vice-chancellors of both the universities also attended the program.

“Virus discharged by a Covid-19 patient poses a great risk to others in the hospital, including health workers and other patients.

“To reduce this risk, a solution is to cover the surroundings of the patient and draw the air out, creating a negative pressure environment,” said a post-discussion press release.

The Negative Pressure Isolation Canopy will cover the whole body of a patient on a hospital bed and isolate the individual from others, especially in the ICU, it added.

The cost of the device will also be much less compared to those for similar devices made by foreign countries since the technology is homegrown, mentioned the press release.

Moreover, there will be a guarantee for repairs to ensure multiple years of use, it further said.

The team comprises eight members from DU’s Biomedical Physics and Technology Department. Other members include Rakib Sakhawat Hossen, lecturer of the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department of Asia Pacific University, and Moniruzzaman, a researcher at Bi-BEAT Ltd, said Muhammad Abdul Kadir, chairman of the department concerned at DU.

Furthermore, the team has taken suggestions on medical aspects related to the device from Professor AKM Akhtaruzzaman, head of Anaesthesia, Analgesia and Intensive Care Medicine Department of BSMMU, added Kadir, who is also a member of the research team.

The private pharmaceutical company Beximco Pharma partially funded the project. Besides, the DU researchers used funds provided by Sweden's Uppsala University under the International Science Programme for this project.

Under the overall supervision of DU’s Biomedical Physics and Technology Department, Bi-BEAT Ltd—a non-profit and non-shareholding social enterprise—is ready to supply such canopy units to any hospital in the country, said Kadir.

He added that Bi-BEAT Ltd, according to a memorandum of understanding, is the authorised organization to commercialize the product that has been invented.

“It has already been demonstrated at BSMMU. The doctors there have opined that the device is very essential and timely.

“The Institutional Review Board (IRB) of BSMMU has also approved a research project for using this device in the intensive care unit,” said the press release.

BSMMU VC Prof Kanak Kanti Barua has already allocated partial funds for this research, it said.

DU VC Md Akhtaruzzaman permitted the DU researchers to take part in the research amid the Covid-19 lockdown, the press release further added.

“Prof Jamilur Reza Chowdhury enquired about the developments even a day before his sudden death. We have finally become successful.

“We had started the work in April at the department lab at DU,” said Prof Rabbani, the head of the research team.

“It will take around Tk1,30,000 to produce a single unit of Negative Pressure Isolation Canopy. Similar foreign products are more expensive than these locally made ones,” he claimed.

Dr Kanak Kanti Barua was of the view that such a development was the result of the passionate and tireless efforts of the researchers during this time of crisis.

“Around 65 doctors have lost their lives to Covid-19 so far. This canopy unit will help save many lives and provide security to doctors and other health workers,” Dr Kanak said.

How the canopy works

A patient will not feel uncomfortable inside it as the canopy covering the individual is transparent and its roof is considerably high, said the press release.

An imported machine is attached to the canopy with a special high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. This cleans the air sucked inside the hood covering the patient.

The Negative Pressure Isolation Canopy also uses an ultraviolet light (UVC) chamber which destroys all micro-organisms and viruses before the air is cleaned by the HEPA filter.

Thus the quality of this canopy is better than any similar devices available around the world, the researchers claimed.

“Some of the canopies only cover the head and neck of a patient using a hood, some only cover the upper half of the patient, some create a tent-like space surrounding the patient, while some create a whole room with negative pressure,” said the press release.

Such systems can also be used on stretchers to carry a patient in an ambulance, it further added.