Source Denel.
A casspir mine clearing in action. Source Denel.
  • South African arms firm Denel is switching from making weapons to making ventilators that save lives.
  • In a nationwide response to the novel coronavirus outbreak they say their engineers are already working round the clock on Project Sabela - now a priority project to make medical ventilators locally. 
  • Denel said it was also considering shifting operations to making sanitisers and converting Casspir mine-protected vehicles into ambulances.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider's home page. 

State-owned South African arms firm Denel says it is switching from making weapons to manufacturing medical ventilators that can save lives.

In a nationwide response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Danie du Toit, Group Chief Executive of Denel, said engineers from Denel Dynamics and Denel Aeronautics are already working round the clock on Project Sabela. The priority project brings in a team of experts from Denel, Armscor, Eskom, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and other entities to investigate designs and produce a prototype of a local ventilator as part of a request from the Department of Public Enterprises, reported Reuters.

 “We are still in the early stages of the project, but we are optimistic that this local initiative will help to alleviate the dire need for medical ventilators that are required in great numbers at both public and private hospitals,” said Du Toit in a press statement.

Denel said it was considering the conversion of Casspir mine-protected vehicles into field ambulances. As well as shifting the manufacturer of small- and medium-calibre ammunition operations to the production of sanitisers, as many of the chemicals used in the manufacturing of explosives can also be utilised to make sanitisers, it said. 

As of Sunday 5 April, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases was 1 655 - an increase of 70 from previously reported 

Government wants to curb the virus in densely populated areas, like townships. This includes ramping up testing, bringing field hospitals online and providing more medical staff and equipment  South Africa needs to test 12 times more people per day for the new coronavirus than it currently does, reports the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism

“We are confident that we will soon make huge strides in the development of locally-designed ventilators at a time when global shortages are experienced,” said Du Toit. 

Compiled by Jay Caboz.

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