Automobile manufacturers to make ventilators: Health Ministry

New Delhi: The Centre has asked automobile manufacturers to use their facilities to make ventilators in order to increase the availability of such machines in view of rise in COVID-19 cases, officials said on Monday.

It also said the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will start manufacturing 20,000 N-95 masks daily from next week.

According to the health ministry, over 14,000 existing ventilators are earmarked for COVID-19 patients in various hospitals of the country, while there are 11.95 lakh N-95 masks in stock.

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An additional 5 lakh masks have been distributed in the past two days. As many as 1.40 lakh masks were distributed on Monday, it said.

The ministry also said 3.34 lakh personal protection equipment (PPE) coveralls are available with hospitals in the country and another 3 lakh, which have been donated, will be received from abroad by April 4.

“Automobile manufacturers have been asked to manufacture ventilators and they are working towards this end,” the health ministry said in a tweet.

BEL to make 30,000 ventilators

Besides, the ministry has asked the Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), a public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Defence, to manufacture 30,000 ventilators in the next two months in collaboration with local manufacturers.

Agva Healthcare to make 10,000 ventilators

Among the private players, Agva Healthcare in Noida has been given an order to manufacture 10,000 ventilators within a month. Their supplies are expected to commence in the second week of April, the ministry said.

International companies

In the meantime, orders have been placed with international companies such as Hamilton, Mindray and Draeger to supply ventilators, it said.

The Ministry of External Affairs is also approaching suppliers in China for sourcing 10,000 ventilators from them, it said in a statement.

Ventilators are required for COVID-19 patients, as they tend to develop acute respiratory disease syndrome (ARDS).

Two domestic manufacturers are producing 50,000 N-95 masks per day. This is expected to go up to 1 lakh daily within the next week as they are ramping up their production capacities, the health ministry said.

The DRDO is collaborating with local manufacturers to produce around 20,000 such masks daily. These is also expected to become available in a week’s time, it said in a statement.

The health ministry also said that 11 domestic producers of PPE coveralls have qualified so far and orders for 21 lakh coveralls have been placed. These are supplying 6,000-7,000 pieces per day and are expected to go up to 15,000 pieces daily by mid-April.

It further said that 10,000 PPE coveralls donated by Red Cross have been received and distributed on Monday.

“Less than 20 COVID-19 patients are on ventilator support at this moment. As against this, over 14,000 ventilators have been identified in various hospitals across the country for treatment of such patients,” the ministry said.

“The first challenge before us is to increase the number of ventilators… we need to be equipped and have manpower which can use these machines,” a senior health ministry official said, adding several doctors and healthcare professionals even at district levels are being provided training by AIIMS doctors on ventilator management for COVID-19 patients.

Foreign sources of PPE kits are also faced with a huge increase in the worldwide demand. They are being approached through the Ministry of External Affairs, according to the health ministry statement.

A Singapore-based online platform has been identified which can supply 10 lakh PPE kits and an order has been placed through the MEA to procure them. Ten lakh masks would be part of the PPE kits being sourced from Singapore.

Another supplier based in South Korea, which has tie ups with production companies in Vietnam and Turkey has been identified with daily production capacity of over 1 lakh PPE kits. Orders are being placed with this company for supplying 20 lakh PPE kits, the health ministry said.

“Personal protection equipment (PPE) kits are used by medical personnel working in isolation areas and intensive care units to protect them from getting infected. They were not being manufactured in the country.”With the prospect of huge requirement of PPEs arising in the near future, the Government of India made proactive efforts to promote their manufacturing in the country,” the health ministry said.

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