A day after Assam imported 50,000 Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for healthcare personnel on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, the Economic Times has reported that tens of thousands kits donated to India, made by China, failed to meet the safety standards. Now the question that arises after the publication of the report is: are the kits that have been purchased by Assam suitable for use? Have they been tested at an Indian facility? If yes, what is the verdict? Are these kits even safe for use for the frontline guard?
Out of 1,70,000 kits that India received on 5th April, 50,000 failed during safety checks. Two smaller consignments of 30,000 and 10,000 kits also failed the quality test, the report added. It may be recalled here that entrepreneur Mukesh Ambani had also recently donated 10,000 such kits to the Government of Assam for the frontline personnel.
The kits were tested at the Defence Research & Development Organisation laboratory in Gwalior, where they were deemed "unusable." According to reports, the kits that failed the test were purchased by big donors. "The number of orders being placed is growing. China is the major supplier. We were totally dependent on imports earlier and never expected that there would be a surge in demand,” a senior government official told the business daily.
While government officials said they are procuring CE/FDA certified PPE kits only, these kits donated by the big private companies in India have failed to make the mark.
This report, incidentally, has come to the fore a day after the Assam Health and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced that the state had imported 50,000 PPE kits from the Chinese city of Guangzhou. Posing in front of the airliner bringing the shipment, the Health and Finance Minister had tweeted, "Another BIG reason to cheer! Keeping life first as the motive, we're glad to have imported 50,000 PPE kits from Guangzhou,China. I am happy to receive this special flight along with Pijush Hazarika, at airport just now. A big reassurance for our doctors & nurses.
Biswa Sarma informed the media that the kits had been procured by the Government of India to meet the rising demand.
Meanwhile, the local production of PPE kits has increased to 30,000 kits per day. So far, 1.3 lakh suits have already been produced in the country. The government estimates India will be in a comfortable position if it had 20 lakh PPE suits to meet the demands amid rising number of coronavirus cases in the country.
To meet the shortfall, an order for an additional 1 million suits has been placed through traders, including a Singaporean company. However, all these suits will be sourced from China only, and will arrive in the first week of May.
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