Viruses discharged by patients infected by Covid-19 pose a great risk to other patients and health workers in a hospital environment. To reduce this risk a way out is to cover the surroundings of the patient and drawing the air out, creating a negative pressure environment. Some of these cover only the head and neck using a hood, some cover the upper half of the patient, while some create a tent like space surrounding the patient, or some create a whole room with negative pressure. Of course in the last two systems, the doctors and other health-workers are not free from risk. Such systems are also used on stretchers to carry a patient in an ambulance. The price of such devices coming from foreign countries are very high. Besides, these are not easy to repair once something goes wrong. Therefore, a team of researchers from several organisations, under the leadership of Professor Khondkar Siddique-e Rabbani, Founder Chairperson and presently Honorary Professor of the Department of Biomedical Physics & Technology of the University of Dhaka, developed a ‘Negative Pressure Isolation Canopy’ completely indigenously that will cover the whole of a patient on a hospital bed to isolate from all others. Besides, the canopy covering the patient are transparent and are reasonably high so that a patient does not feel uncomfortable. Foreign isolation hoods or canopies uses a special HEPA filter to clean the sucked air of microorganisms and viruses as much as possible and releases the filtered air into the hospital room again. The design of Professor Rabbani’s team uses an additional ultraviolet light (UVC) chamber to destroy all microorganisms and viruses first before cleaning the air further using a HEPA filter. Therefore, the quality of this canopy is better than any similar device available in the world. Its cost will also be much less than similar devices from foreign countries. Since the technology is home grown, there will be guarantee for repairs for many years of use.
The team comprises of researchers of a project of the Department of Biomedical Physics & Technology of the University of Dhaka that is funded by the International Science Programme of Uppsala University, Sweden; Engr Rakib Sakhawat Hossen, a lecturer of the EEE department of Asia Pacific University; and Engr. Md. Moniruzzaman, a researcher of Bi-BEAT Limited, a non-shareholding social enterprise. For the medical aspects, advice and suggestions were taken from Professor A K M Akhtaruzzaman, Head of the Department of Anaesthesia, Analgesia and Intensive Care Medicine of BSMMU. It has already been demonstrated at BSMMU and doctors there opined that this device is very essential and timely. In the meantime, the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of BSMMU has approved a research project for using this device in the Intensive Care department. The vice chancellor of BSMMU Professor Kanak Kanti Barua has already allocated partial funds for this research.
Honorable Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University, Professor Dr. Md. Akhtaruzzaman has been providing encouragement and support since the beginning of this project and gave special permission to the researchers, through the Chairperson of the department of Biomedical Physics & Technology, Dr. Muhammad Abdul Kadir, to work at the Department during lockdown at Dhaka University. Professor Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, the past Vice Chancellor of Asia Pacific University who expired recently, took special interest in this project and enquired of the developments even a day before his sudden demise. The well-known drug manufacturing company, Beximco Pharma provided partial funding support for this project.
Under the overall supervision of the Department of Biomedical Physics and Technology, BiBEAT limited is now ready to fabricate and supply such units to any hospital in the country. The researchers hope that, this Negative Pressure Isolation Canopy, a result of their passionate and tireless efforts during this period of crisis, will be used in the country’s hospitals and will help save many lives and provide security to doctors and other health-workers, the frontline warriors against the Covid-19 pandemic.