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Prof. Chi-wai Kan and team develop reusable isolation gowns that sustain 30 washes

A research team at ITC led by Prof. Chi-wai Kan has developed a reusable isolation gown that can maintain 90% of its antibacterial effect after 30 washings.

Prof. Kan states that the reusable gown can resist virus and bacteria like COVID-19, Escherichia coli., Staphylococcus aureus  and H1N1. The antibacterial effect remains acceptable for use in places like residential care homes where the risk of infection is still relatively low after the gown is washed for up to 104 times. However, he adds, the gown would be worn out after so many washes, and suggests 30 washes as the limit.

The team secured about HK$1.7 million in funding from the Special Call for Projects for the Prevention and Control of Coronavirus Disease 2019 of the Innovation and Technology Commission for the development of reusable isolation gowns that can be used in higher risk environments such as residential care homes.

Prof. Kan says that unlike disposable isolation gowns, which are highly protective but unbreathable, their novel reusable gowns are made by applying an antibacterial coating onto cotton fabric, which ensures that they are comfortable.

The reusable gown was first developed in 2018. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ITC team has added a waterproof coating onto the gown so that virus droplets bounce off the surface. Prof. Kan explains that the coronavirus is usually carried as droplets; therefore, the risk of infection would be increased if these droplets are allowed to remain on the garment.

As for the cost, Prof. Kan says that disposable gowns are about HK$10 each, and hence HK$300 for 30 gowns. However, the cost of his reusable gown is definitely lower than the disposable ones.


Prof. Chi-wai Kan (middle) and members of his research team.