Univen produces hand sanitiser to help prevent coronavirus infections

The University of Venda has entered the battle against Covid-19 outrbreak by producing hand sanitisers.
The University of Venda has entered the battle against Covid-19 outrbreak by producing hand sanitisers.
Image: wikimedia commons

As the number of people infected with the coronavirus grows in the country, the University of Venda (Univen) has produced hand sanitiser to mitigate the spread of the pandemic. 

The university's school of mathematical and natural sciences under its dean, Prof Natasha Potgieter, has recently put together a hygiene team made up of staff and students from four departments to come up with a response to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus. 

Deputy dean for the school of mathematical and natural sciences Prof Peter Tshisikhawe said  the team is made up of members from the university’s departments of microbiology, chemistry, biochemistry and botany and, so far, hand sanitiser and disinfectant of 100,000 litres have been produced and more volumes are anticipated. 

"The project was started two weeks ago when the university senate directed all the schools to use the suspension of classes to develop something regarding the virus.  We decided to come up with the sanitisers because we had research of alcohol in our lab," he said.

"Ours was to develop  the sanitisers and the idea was that students will be back early to resume with their studies and use it as one of the precautionary measures. We handed over the products to our procurement division for distribution to all students and with the intention to expand to the neighbouring villages, " said Tshisikhawe. 

He said with the anticipation of the spread of the outbreak they have ordered more litres of alcohol to continue with production. 

"Already mega supermarkets are running out of sanitisers and the product is in high demand. We hope people in rural areas, particularly those with lack of running water, will be able to stay clean," he said. 

Potgieter said that the university management saw a need to produce these sanitisers internally for the benefit of the university’s staff and students and to minimise the exposure of the university community to contracting this novel coronavirus.

Potgieter said the school of mathematical and natural sciences has the expertise and both the staff and postgraduate students were eager to get involved in this project and wanted to do their part in combating the spread of the virus. 

"It is important that people become aware of their behaviour and be pro-active by always carrying the hand sanitiser with them and use it as often as possible after visiting the bathroom.

And also when touching door handles, money and any other object that might be touched or handled by several people,"she said. 

Potgieter said the hand sanitiser is made from ethanol, glycerol and essential oils (sourced from different plants) to keep  hands moisturised while disinfecting them.

"The surface disinfectant is a diluted hypochlorite solution and is used to disinfect all windows and working surfaces. 

"The university is in the process of looking at the potential of making these products available to the community at a reasonable price together with proper hygiene education brochures as part of the community engagement activities and social responsibility, " said Potgieter. 

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