Commenting on an article, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday slammed the Central government for allowing the export of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as surgical masks until March 19 despite the COVID-19 outbreak. He mentioned that the WHO had advised countries to maintain enough stock of such items. The article referred by him claimed that health workers were struggling as the Centre had failed to create stockpiles of the PPE in the last two months.
Subsequently, the Centre rebutted these claims. India has recorded 415 confirmed COVID-19 cases so far. A total lockdown has been announced in 19 states and union territories. On the other hand, 6 states and union territories have placed only some areas under lockdown.
Rahul Gandhi remarked, “Dear Prime Minister, why did India allow the export of ventilator and surgical masks till March 19 when the WHO had issued guidelines to keep adequate stock of the aforesaid items? This compromise was done on the behalf of which forces? Is this is not a criminal conspiracy?”
The Narendra Modi government contended that there was misinformation regarding the efforts to increase the supply of PPE such as body coveralls, N-95 Masks, and 2-ply/3-ply surgical masks. For instance, there are stringent technical requirements for the production of body overalls which were earlier fulfilled only by a few international companies. It was clarified that the supply of body coveralls from indigenous manufacturers had commenced from March 2.
Moreover, the Centre revealed that it had banned the export of all personal protective equipment way back on January 31. The ban was lifted on February 8 on the assurance that adequate supply of PPE at reasonable prices would be ensured. However, the ban on the export of 2-ply/3-ply surgical masks and the raw material required for manufacturing such products was again imposed on March 19. It was stated that the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Department of Pharmaceuticals, and the Ministry of Textiles were continuously working with all stakeholders to maintain a steady supply of all materials required for healthcare professionals.
Govt working with various industry bodies & manufacturers to streamline supply chain, remove bottlenecks & maintain a steady supply of all materials required for the healthcare professionals.#IndiaFightsCoronavirus@TexMinIndia @MoHFW_INDIA— PIB India (@PIB_India) March 23, 2020