Doctors Wear Modified Snorkel Masks to Protect Against COVID-19 While Treating Patients Battling Coronavirus

Dr. Lizelle van Wyk and Prof. Goussard
Dr. Lizelle van Wyk and Professor Pierre Goussard wear modified snorkels as protection while treating patients battling COVID-19. Western Cape Government

Doctors at Tygerberg Hospital in Capetown, South Africa have modified a typical snorkel mask by adding a breathing filter where the snorkel would be.

In the time of COVID-19, when face coverings are mandatory, physicians at one South African hospital are getting quite creative when treating patients battling coronavirus. At Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town, doctors are using “modified snorkel masks” to protect themselves when dealing with patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The idea is not a new one; it originated in Europe, where engineers changed the snorkels into medical masks after hospitals ran out of personal protective equipment at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak, SA People News reported.

Neonatologist and pediatrician Dr. Lizelle van Wyk, an avid diver, approached two of her colleagues, Dr. Jack Meintjies and Professor Pierre Goussard, to modify and approve the mask (featured in photo).

And, it worked like a charm.

According to the Tygerberg hospital spokesperson, the masks have been modified with the addition of a breathing filter where the snorkel would usually be.

“Using these full-face modified snorkel masks, the doctors are now completely protected from breathing in the COVID-19 virus whilst performing highly contagious airway procedures,” the spokesperson said. 

“These masks are now routinely used by the pediatricians for intubation and bronchoscopy in children suspected of being COVID-19 positive.”