While the number of Covid-19 cases are increasing in the country, the government has roped in about 15 Indian manufacturers to make Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) or coverall kits required for health professionals attending to infected patients in isolation wards and the Intensive Care Units (ICUs).
Indian manufacturers were not making the PPEs until a week ago, but more than 15 manufacturers have come forward and qualified to produce the PPEs in less than seven days, said sources. These include Arvind Mills, JCT Mills Phagwara, Amare Safety, Mumbai based Sure Safety, Delhi-based Sai Synergy, Manchanda, Shree Healthcare, Chennai etc, said sources.
Orders for over 21 lakh PPE coveralls have been placed and they are supplying 6-7,000 coveralls per day and this is expected to go up to 15,000 per day within the next week.
As of now, 3.34 lakh PPEs are available in various hospitals across the country. About 60,000 PPE kits have already been procured and supplied by the government. Indian Red Cross Society has arranged 10,000 PPEs from China which have also been received and are being distributed. Another 3 lakh donated PPE coveralls are to arrive by April 4. An order for 3 lakh PPEs has been placed with ordinance factories.
Foreign sources of PPE kits are facing huge demand from across the world. The Ministry of External Affairs has also approached them. A Singapore-based online platform has been identified which can supply 10 lakh PPE kits and an order has been placed through Ministry of External Affairs to procure them. Another supplier based in 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 through MEA for supplying 20 lakh PPE kits, said a Government statement. Sources said while foreign kits may cost nearly Rs 5,000, the Indian kits may cost less than Rs 3,000.
Sources said with the road logistics becoming a big issue due to the lock-down, supplies are being done by roping in cargo flights. Air India and Alliance Air flights are being operated to carry out the necessary supply operations across the country and is being co-ordinated by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA). In order to cater to eastern and north eastern parts of the country, an Alliance Air flight from Delhi to Kolkata carried shipments for Kolkata, Guwahati, Dibrugarh and Agartala on March 29. In northern region, an IAF flight from Delhi to Chandigarh to Leh carried ICMR VTM kits and other essential cargo. Alliance Air transferred Pune shipment to Mumbai on an Air India flight. Various domestic flights are also carrying out the emergency medical supplies to different cities, sources said.