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Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) announces that it is donating 900 face shields to Prince Mshiyeni Hospital in Umlazi, Durban, with an additional 2 300 units to be delivered in the next few weeks. The initiative is in line with Toyota Motor Corporation’s global commitment to do what it can to help limit the further spread of COVID-19 – which has now become society’s biggest priority.

Prince Mshiyeni Hospital will not be the only beneficiary; plans are afoot to extend the gesture to first-time responders and other local hospitals. Toyota will also provide face shields to staff at its Prospecton Plant in Durban, dealers across the country as well as its local suppliers.

Representing TSAM during the official hand-over, Senior Vice President of TSAM Manufacturing Group, David Fernandes, said: “Primarily, our efforts are geared towards helping suppress the spread of the virus, in addition to pledging our unwavering support to medical professionals on the front lines. We sincerely hope that our contribution in this regard would play a meaningful role in curbing the spread of Coronavirus.”

Fernandes’s sentiments were echoed by TSAM’s Occupational Health Doctor for Wellness Health Outcomes Dr Muhammad Minty, who liaised between Toyota and Prince Mshiyeni Hospital in the project: “This is a culmination of Toyota Health Services’ long-standing relationship with Prince Mshiyeni Hospital, and we are therefore hugely grateful for everyone’s efforts in making this a successful enterprise.”

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Accepting the donation on behalf of Prince Mashele Hospital, CEO Gabriel Khawula said: “The face shields will go a long way in protecting hospital staff as well as minimising transmissions between patient and personnel, and vice-versa.”

The expertise to design and produce face shields locally was accomplished through collaborating with other Toyota affiliates globally. The brackets of the Toyota-designed face shields have been created to last longer than the plastic sheet that is attached to the frame. This allows for disposal of the plastic sheet and reuse of the brackets – thereby reducing the product’s environmental impact through recycling.

Other markets producing face shields to support COVID-19 front-line personnel are Asia, North America and Europe. While confirming that there are plans to sell its face shields, TSAM says there have already been inquiries as to whether their product could be exported to other countries.

According to President and CEO of TSAM, Andrew Kirby, Toyota also sees a need to be prepared for the recovery of economic activity following a return to normalcy.

“If we ever decide to export, we will need to ensure we’re able to recover production costs – but that is not part of our current strategy. Our approach is to produce over 100 000 face shields which we will deliver – free of charge – but then to hand over the business to a BBBEE SMME, creating a new supplier who can continue operating. We are running until lockdown and then the desire is to off-load to a BBBEE company already affiliated with Toyota,” concludes Kirby.