Coronavirus Outbreak: Only 9.1 million of 38 million masks needed to fight COVID-19 in India available, says Invest India agency
New Delhi: India needs at least 38 million masks and 6.2 million pieces of personal protective equipment as it confronts the spread of coronavirus, and has approached hundreds of companies to secure supplies quickly, according to a report by the country’s investment agency seen by Reuters.
As cases of the illness have risen, so has demand for protective equipment and masks, as well as complaints from healthcare workers about shortages.
In a four-page internal document dated 27 March, the Invest India agency detailed efforts to find companies that can supply critical supplies. Invest India said it had contacted 730 companies for ventilators, ICU monitors, protective equipment, masks and testing kits, of which 319 firms had responded so far.
India, with 873 recorded cases of coronavirus and 19 deaths, took strong steps this week to curb the spread of the illness, with authorities concerned the healthcare system could be overwhelmed if the disease becomes rampant in the country of 1.3 billion.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered everyone on Tuesday to stay at home for three weeks.
The quantity of masks available for supply from the companies was 9.1 million, the Invest India document said, adding that available supplies of personal protective equipment such as body coveralls stood at almost 800,000.
But Invest India estimated the country needed 38 million masks - 14 million needed by state governments and the rest by the central government - and 6.2 million pieces of protective gear. It did not give any time frame for the demand.
The document said the data covered seven of India’s 36 states and centrally-controlled territories, meaning the total demand for such equipment required could be much higher.
Invest India, which works with companies, as well as central and state governments, declined to comment. The health ministry did not respond to Reuters queries.
On Wednesday, health official Lav Agarwal told reporters the government was “trying its best” to ensure supplies of healthcare protective gear, but gave no numbers.
Invest India is also working with a private Indian company to import test kits from five companies in South Korea, the document said.
Some doctors have said they are concerned about shortages of healthcare equipment.
At the main facility for COVID-19 treatment in Bihar, doctors do not have proper protective gear and some are wary of entering the wards where five coronavirus patients are being treated, said Ravi RK Raman, president of a doctor’s association there.
“We are not running away from the crisis. It is our duty to help people. But we ask the government to give us adequate supplies of personal protective equipment,” said Raman.
Updated Date: Mar 29, 2020 09:25:02 IST
Why social distancing is still the most effective non-pharmaceutical intervention for COVID-19
Studies suggest even mild symptoms of COVID-19 can cause severe damage to lungs, heart and brain
COVID-19 Treatment: Bemcentinib, Heparin and 3 other drugs to be tested by UK in their ACCORD programme
Hydroxychloroquine sustained dose and PPE can reduce COVID-19 risk in healthcare workers, ICMR study says
COVID-19 Testing: Gold nanoparticle-based test kit can give results within 10 minutes
New French study suggests 10% of diabetes patients who contract COVID-19 die within a week
Coronavirus Outbreak Updates: 2,091 people test positive for COVID-19 in Maharashtra today; confirmed cases rise to 54,758 in state
Coronavirus Outbreak Updates: 459 people test positive for COVID-19 in Pune today, total number of cases rises to 6,153
Coronavirus Outbreak Updates: Gujarat BJP MLA Balram Thawani tests positive for COVID-19; 423 new cases reported in state today
Coronavirus Outbreak Updates: Mumbai reports 1,382 new COVID-19 cases; confirmed infections rise to 25,317
Coronavirus Outbreak Updates: Junior assistant in Delhi LG's office tests positive for COVID-19; samples from 40 staff members taken
Coronavirus Outbreak Updates: Film producers' association writes to Uddhav Thackeray requesting resumption of film and TV shoots