As Covid-19 crisis deepens, govt looks for protective suit manufacturers
The government has also issued orders banning of exports on all personal protective equipment.Updated: Mar 24, 2020 10:35 IST
The ministry of health is scouting for manufacturers who can produce body coveralls or PPE - a specialised protective suit meant for protection of healthcare workers while treating Covid-19 patients.
In a statement, the health ministry said that technical standard for coveralls was prescribed as per World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and in accordance with ISO standards in the last week of January. But few international manufacturers had declined to take an order because of exhaustion of stocks and ban of exports by the source countries. The ministry was responding to reports that India is late in augmenting protective gear for its frontline health workers.
M/s HLL Lifecare Limited has been designated as the single-window procurement agency for hospitals and healthcare organisations, the ministry said. Five indigenous manufacturers had come forward and offered fabric proto-types for testing at the accredited laboratory of South India Textiles research association (SITRA) in Coimbatore.
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The health ministry finalised the technical requirements for PPE on March 2, 2020, based on the indigenous availability of materials and the technical requirement for Covid-19 cases.
The specifications were published on HLL Lifecare Ltd’s website on March 5 inviting manufacturers to apply. So far, prototype garments of six Indian manufacturers have passed the prescribed tests conducted at SITRA.
“Every potential manufacturer in the country is invited to participate in the endeavour of the government. The supply of body coveralls from indigenous manufacturers... has already commenced,” the statement said.
The government has also issued orders banning of exports on all personal protective equipment including body coveralls, N-95 Masks, 2-ply/3-ply surgical masks on January 31, 2020.
But government had lifted this ban on exports on February 8 after being petitioned by manufacturers. The ban has been reimposed on March 19 on surgical masks and raw materials required to manufacture such products. The export ban on body coveralls and N-95 masks has since been in force since January 31, the ministry said.
HT had reported that healthcare workers are at the highest risk of contracting Covid-19 and lack of protective gear only accentuates it. Emerging data shows Covid-19 cases are disproportionately high among health workforce in Italy and China, which are among the worst hit. Around 3,387 health workers in China were infected till February 24 and, according to local media, 22 had died.