A creative solution to protect health care providers at high risk of contracting the novel coronavirus amid a global shortage of personal protective equipment is attracting interest throughout the world, including in Japan.

The Aerosol Box, created and shared online by Lai Hsien-yung, an anesthesiologist from Taiwan, is a transparent box shielding a provider's face from aerosol particles contaminated by the virus while intubating an infected patient, many of whom develop respiratory failure.

(Supplied photo shows medical workers using an Aerosol Box to intubate a patient.)[Courtesy of Dr. Lai Hsien-yung]

"I felt that I was protected," said Takahiro Kusume, 32, a doctor on the frontlines of an anti-coronavirus team at a university hospital in Tokyo.

In April, he requested his brother, who owns a design studio in Kobe in the western prefecture of Hyogo to make the product based on the design shared online by Lai.

"I feel safe even when my face has to come close to a patient during my work," said a male doctor in his 50s at a medical facility in Osaka who is developing measures to prevent infections among staff and patients at the institution.

"We bought two of them to prepare for an increase in the number of patients," he added.

The Aerosol Box is a transparent box-like structure that can be cheaply made using acrylic or transparent polycarbonate sheet, according to the website, which gives design specifications.

It covers the head of the patient lying on the bed, with the healthcare provider sticking his or her arms in two holes on one side of the box.

The box "effectively shields a provider's face from a patient's airway, while allowing the provider to move his/her arms freely to perform all necessary tasks during endotracheal intubation," the website explains, adding that the box can be cleaned thoroughly with a solution of 70 percent alcohol or bleach to be reused for the next patient.

Lai, 52, who works at the Mennonite Christian Hospital in Hualien, eastern Taiwan, told Kyodo News that he was inspired by baby incubator apparatus.

As hospitals, overwhelmed by the rising numbers of coronavirus patients, are running out of N95 masks and other protective equipment, Lai didn't submit a patent application, preferring to put it online at the end of March so as to deploy it rapidly across the globe.

"I made this box to protect the doctors who are fighting on the frontline," Lai explained. He said he hoped "people (all) over the world can build and modify (them) by themselves."

Medical teams from countries that have been hit hard by the virus, including the United States and Spain, have tested and reported their experiences with the simple contraption as they adapt it in the field.

(Tetsuo Taniguchi, background, president of acrylic product maker Act, watches on as an employee cleans a completed Aerosol Box on April 22, 2020 in Osaka.)

One adaptation is an Aerosol Box that can be folded and shipped easily to be reassembled in a minute at its destination.

A Japanese acrylic company in Osaka, Act, has received orders for the Aerosol Box since mid-March, producing around 40 per day.

The company says it takes around 30 minutes to produce one, with a wholesale price of less than 10,000 yen ($93).

"We can make the product on the day we receive the order," said Tetsuo Taniguchi, the 70-year-old president of the company, whose around 10 employees also make countertop shields to protect against infectious droplets in face-to-face meetings.