Thammask – Thammasat’s Initiative of Using “Cotton-Silk” as an Alternative for Face Mask Shortage

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Thammasat University (TU), Faculty of Science and Technology (SCI-TU) and COVID-19 prevention and control bureau advise using “Cotton-Silk” as an alternative face mask for medical staff in order to decrease the infection of COVID-19 during the shortage time. They want to use water-resistant reflective fabric for transmission prevention. They agree to test the water reflection property of the fabric and fiber strength. The activity was held recently at Thammasat University, Rangsit campus.

Assoc.Prof.Gasinee Witoonchart, President of Thammasat University (TU), reveals that the outbreak of COVID-19 from Wuhan, China has occurred since December 2019. Currently, the virus has spread to more than 60 countries globally. Recently, on 9 January 2020, the World Health Organization: WHO stated that the number of deaths globally is 3,831 and 110,107 infected people. The Ministry of Health declared that there are 50 infected people in Thailand.

Thammasat University is a people university that has knowledge of science and public health. Therefore, the university has created “COVID-19 prevention and control bureau team” under the cooperation of people of Thammasat and other outside agents like Thammasat University hospital, Faculty of Science and Technology, Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Faculty of Public Health, Faculty of Pharmacy, and Thammasat Secondary School. These agents act as a connection of other organizations to effectively work and cope with the situation in time.

Prof.Ph.D. Orapan Poachnukoon, Vice Director for Student Affairs and the Director of COVID-19 prevention and control bureau team, states that although the transmission of COVID-19 in Thailand is in phase 2, there is a problem with supply chain management because most hospitals lack a “face mask”. This is because the demand for surgical masks in the country is more than 30-40 million pieces per month while the production force in 10 factories can only produce 30 million pieces per month. Therefore, in order to reduce the transmission and infection risk and to solve the shortage of single-use masks for medical staff and citizen level, we conduct research on the proper fabric for the development of “THAMMASK, water-resistant mask for medical use”. It is an alternative mask that produced from water reflective fabric. It does not absorb liquid and reduces the transmission risk.

Professor Thanika Hutakamol, Professor at Textile Materials and Technology, Faculty of Science and Technology (SCI-TU), says that “water-proof mask, THAMMASK for medical use” uses the knowledge of water-resistant fiber structure that is suitable for making a mask to prevent secretion and to substitute the current lack of surgical mask. “Cotton-Silk” has a proper fiber including 500 Cotton-Microfiber per 10 sq.cm, 75s Polyester Microfiber, and 40s Cotton Compact Combed.

Moreover, the producing company uses durable water repellency technology by using NUVA – 1811, micron-sized particles that can resist water molecules in fabric.  NUVA – 1811 is approved by Oekotex Standard 100 – 2019, Switzerland. It is safe for direct skin touch. Currently, we are testing the effectiveness and the strength of the fiber. We are trying to find out whether the fabric is still effective after normal laundry. Therefore, “Cotton-Silk” could be an alternative material for face masks in order to prevent COVID-19 for medical staff and citizens.

However, people can create a “D.I.Y cotton mask with Jersey Knit” to protect themselves from secretion through coughing and sneezing during the shortage of surgical masks. Jersey Knit is a single-knit fiber. The front fabric is knitted in vertical and the back is in a horizontal line. The fabric is very elastic, comfortable, light-weight, ventilates, and can be washed and wear repeated times.

Asst.Prof.Dr.Natthanon Hongwaritthorn, Director of the Faculty of Science and Technology (SCI-TU), also says that the Faculty of Science and Technology has a prevention measure for COVID-19 for all staff and students. We increase more cleaning rounds in the common area. We also put 70% alcohol sanitizing gel in important spots such as the faculty office as we often have contact from outside. Moreover, we have a screening measure to take the temperature before entering the building. We inform students and staff on how to take care of them and raise their awareness about the issue. These measurements help everyone to have responsibility for society and reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

Moreover, the Textile Materials and Technology, Faculty of Science and Technology also work with the bureau team, the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, and private sectors to produce face masks under the project “Thammasat and COVID-19 Prevention”. Our main aim is to produce a free fabric face mask for TU’s staff and students in order to reduce the infection risk.

All in all, the activity was held recently at Thammasat University, Rangsit campus. For more information, please contact student affairs, tel: 02-564-2924, 02-564-4408. For those who want to learn how to do the face mask, please see the information on www.facebook.com/ScienceThammasat/posts/2200214250082114