An obstetrics clinic in Saitama Prefecture is using plastic face guards to alleviate concerns harbored by new mothers about the novel coronavirus pandemic. (Tsubasa Setoguchi)

A company in central Japan that manufactures amusement machines installed at pachinko parlors has stepped out of its comfort zone to produce plastic face guards to protect newborns from the new coronavirus pandemic.

Naito Inc., based in Miyoshi, Aichi Prefecture, ramped up its production facilities for the face guards over a two-week period and began selling the products to medical institutions from late April, saying it wanted to play its part in the health crisis.

The face guards have been used at Y’s Ladies Clinic, an obstetrics institution in Satte, Saitama Prefecture, since early May.

One of the first users was Yue Nishimori, 28, who gave birth to a daughter on May 3.

“I am so thankful because the face guard is easier to handle than a normal face mask,” Nishimori said. “I just want to thank my baby for being born, even though it was during such a trying time for everyone.”

Yushi Segawa, 62, who heads the clinic, said: “It is very difficult to place a face mask on a newborn. We hope to alleviate the worries mothers may have regarding infectious diseases.”

Naito has also begun manufacturing face guards for adults and plans to produce a total of 300,000 of the different types a month.

A company official said, “We hope this will contribute to protecting newborn babies as well as health care professionals.”