With Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) scarce, infection control is now raising a concern. Photos courtesy of PT Dailite Star Modéliste/NOWJAKARTA

With Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) scarce, infection control is now raising a concern. NOW! Jakarta spoke to Co-Founder PT Dailite Star Modéliste Golden Epafras to discuss the rational use of PPE and challenges during the Covid-19 crisis.

Could you please tell us more about the company’s background?

With a solid background in material engineering and the help of fashion designer Dita Lestari, we established PT Dailite Star Modéliste to produce PPE in 2011. Along the way, Yoan Yebusi with her finance and administration expertise came to join us. We have since been manufacturing uniforms (mostly suits), and we are doing PPE production at the moment as well. We serve companies from multiple sectors such as engineering and energy like General Electric (a major power generation player in the country). Most of the PPE products that we make are to protect engineers in the field and so must meet flame retardant and water proof standards.

What does the community need right now in response to the Covid-19 outbreak? Are you manufacturing something completely new, or are you taking familiar standards and producing something that fits for this time?

PPE itself is special equipment used to protect users against health or safety risks at work, and is part of the country’s Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) regulations. There are different types of PPE, but to combat the Covid-19 pandemic their production, design and purpose needs to be adjusted. And that’s a new challenge for us. For example, Indonesia – and most global companies – are ramping up production for medical use so as to protect the front-liners (health care workers) from infection.

PPE for medical workers battling the pandemic is the most essential gear in protecting themselves against the risk of infection associated with their work. At this time we are producing around 100 pieces per day. PPE standards became acutely apparent during this unprecedented Covid-19 outbreak. If we were to follow, say, ideal standards or other requirements, then the applicability (in various settings) and acceptability issues had to be adjusted as well, and this is hard to achieve.

Now the real challenge for us is how can we expand the production of our equipment without losing its proper production procedures, standards and effectiveness? We are currently working together with Rochester Midland Corporation, an American-based leading chemical manufacturing industry to produce PPE by using Polypropylene 75 GSM, a non-woven material, which is widely used for PPE products and can be used only once. These are standards that the USA Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved for resisting germs and viruses, including Covid-19.

Given the fact that PPE is now used by non-medical workers, how do you react to that?

The reason why PPE is massively produced is to protect users against health and safety risks at work – for doctors, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists or anyone helping to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. However, we clearly understand why civilians are wearing PPE to shops and grocery stores, as there’s so much concern about individual health, not just for medical workers. This is a very critical situation! As the demand for PPE skyrockets, it has also become hard to find because now everyone is panicking and looking to buy PPE for personal use. As Covid-19 continues to spread, it is important to remember the front-liners who are struggling very hard in the battle. I feel that although to have PPE for individual use is not illegal, I strongly advise that, for now, PPE products are better used for medical workers only. We hope that our production of 100 pieces every day, will adequately cover everyone’s needs.

What about the price? How much does it cost for one piece of PPE?

A PPE set is normally priced at IDR 95,000 – 120,000 depending on the materials and suppliers’ requirements. For now, we are only producing for suppliers, but we are ready to modify supplies on a massive scale for retailers.

Any healthy tips you would like to share?

The world must work together to combat this virus. A strong commitment to working with the government and local communities is all that matters now. The government is responsible for ensuring all necessary preventive and protective measures and our safety, and we must follow its guidelines. Be wise in filtering news and news sources. And last but not least, stay at home.

PT Dailite Star Modéliste

IG: @hazmat.id_official

This article is originally from paper. Read NOW!Jakarta Magazine May 2020 issue "The Plague of Our Time". Available at selected bookstores or SUBSCRIBE here.

Refa Koetin

Refa Koetin

A full-time, dream-powered writer, Refa handles NOW! Jakarta publication and other editorial projects in the company. When not writing at his second home (the office), he can be found roaming the city hunting happy hours or exploring its diverse culinary scene. He is also a sci-fi addict, ex-gamer, fitness junkie, beer lover and burger fan. Hit up +62 856 188 0336 for nerd talk or happy hour info.