Amid shortage at home, India exports COVID-19 protective gear

New Delhi: India has exported 90 tons of medical equipment and safety gear to Serbia. The mater came to light after the Serbian wing of the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) which is providing support to coronavirus-affected nations tweeted about this.

UNDP wrote: “The 2nd cargo Boeing 747 with 90t of medical protective equipment landed from India to Belgrade today. The transportation of valuable supplies purchased by @SerbianGov  has been fully funded by the #EU while @UNDPSerbia organized the flight & ensured the fastest possible delivery.”

Such a huge export of medical equipment was done amid a huge crunch of protective gear for medical personnel treating COVID-19 patients in India.

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However, the health ministry denied any knowledge of the matter.

The 90-ton consignment included 50 tons of surgical gloves besides masks and coveralls. These items are direly needed by medical workers.

According to the spokesperson of Kochi airport, another consignment was sent on March 29, which included 35 lakh pairs of sterile surgical glove.

The Cochin Customs which had facilitated the clearance of 30 tonne consignment tweeted: “Cochin customs in action to clear a consignment of 35 lakhs pairs of sterile latex surgical gloves to Serbia to support the global war against #COVID2019” 

Hitting out at the government, the Congress said, nearly 100 doctors have been quarantined across the country after they came in contact with coronavirus patients while working without any protective gear. Several have even contracted the virus.

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Back home there have been reports that doctors in some corners of the country have been using raincoats and motorbike helmets as they don’t have protective gears.

In Lucknow, the OPD doctors’ request for specialised protective equipment a week after a resident doctor contracted the disease was turned down by the authorities of the prestigious King George’s Medical University, the hub of treatment of the COVID-19 pandemic in Uttar Pradesh.

The association of ambulance employees in Uttar Pradesh threatened to stop work over non-payment of salaries for two months and lack of protective gear despite being on the front-line in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

The same day, the Centre said it was trying to procure bulk quantities of such gear, called personal protective equipment (PPE), domestically and from South Korea and China to meet the shortages.

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