NEW DELHI: Amid concerns and complaints that there is an acute shortage of preventive gear for healthcare workers and ventilators for COVID 19 patients, the government for the first time made public the details of these supplies and said that all the stops are being pulled out to increase their availability.
As of now, 3.34 lakh PPEs (personal protective equipment)—crucial to prevent infection in healthcare workers-- are available in various hospitals across the country, said the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, while hospitals in the country have 11.95 lakh N95 masks in stock.
The ministry also said that 14,000 ventilators will be put aside for COVID-19 patients but did not give details of how many ventilators Indian hospitals have. As per industry estimates, this number stands at nearly 40,000—nearly 70 per cent of which are in private hospitals.
“PPEs 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,” said the government in a statement on Monday.
“--so far 11 manufacturers have cleared the quality tests. Orders for 21 lakh PPE coveralls have been placed on them,” it added. Currently they are supplying 6,000-7,000 coveralls per day and this is expected to go up to 15,000 per day within the next week.
One more manufacturer has qualified on Monday and an order of 5 lakh coveralls has been placed with the firm.
The ministry said that about 60,000 PPE kits have already been procured and supplied and the 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. In addition, an order for 3 lakh PPEs has been placed with ordinance factories.
The ministry also said that N95 masks are being manufactured by two domestic producers. “They are able to supply 50,000 masks per day at the moment, but are ramping up capacities to make 1 lakh masks per day within the next week,” it said. DRDO is also collaborating with local manufacturers to produce about 20,000 N99 masks per day. This supply is expected to become available in a week’s time.
In addition to 11.95 lakh masks available, an additional 5 lakh masks were distributed in the past two days and 1.40 lakh masks are being distributed on Monday.
Apart from this, 10 lakh masks would be part of the PPE kits being sourced from Singapore.
The ministry said that ventilators are required for COVID-19 patients who tend to develop acute respiratory disease syndrome but less than 20 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 COVID-19 patients,” the statement said.
A domestic manufacturer Agva Healthcare in Noida has been able to develop suitable ventilators and an order of 10,000 ventilators has been placed with the firm.
Supplies are expected to start by mid-April and in addition, an order for 30,000 ventilators has been placed with Bharat Electronics Limited which is going to collaborate with domestic manufacturers. Indian auto manufacturers are also preparing to make ventilators.
In the meantime, orders have been placed with international companies like Hamilton, Mindray and Draeger to supply ventilators, the government added. The Ministry of External Affairs is also approaching suppliers in China for sourcing 10,000 ventilators from them.