April 13, 2020 / 9:07 AM / 4 months ago

Space cadet: A Chinese father innovates to ward off coronavirus

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - As the spread of coronavirus eases in China, Cao Junjie and his family are making the most of the sunny days at a Shanghai amusement park - with one important twist.

Cao’s son is wearing an inflatable suit to protect him from the highly contagious virus, looking more like a miniature astronaut than a two-year old child.

The father created the suit himself, complete with an air purification system, a device to monitor air quality and an electric fan to keep it cool.

The innovative suit is not a first for Cao, though. Last month, the father of two designed a “baby safety pod” for his two-month-old.

For his older child, Cao found an “inflatable space suit” for children online for 2,000 yuan ($284) and set about modifying it.

After a week, his two-year old boy was ready to boldly go out with the suit on, first to the supermarket and then beyond.

Cao says the suit is ideal for toddlers because masks don’t stop them touching their faces, which doctors say is one of the main causes of infection.

“I designed this protection suit to replace masks because masks could make him uncomfortable,” Cao told Reuters.

China reported 108 new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, the highest in nearly six weeks, bringing its total number of cases to 82,160. The death toll rose by two to 3,341.

The virus emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and has spread around the world, infecting more than 1.8 million people and killing more than 113,500 of them.

The child can do most things in the inflatable suit except blow bubbles.

Passersby are suitably impressed.

“I think it’s great. He looks like a cartoon character,” said Wu Fengying, 53.

(This story was refiled to correct reporting credit, no change to text)

Reporting by Martin Pollard and Xihao Jiang; Writing by Shri Navaratnam; Editing by Robert Birsel

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