<p style="font-weight: 400;">IN Bureau</p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;">Amidst reports of shortage of surgical masks and body coveralls for health professionals treating coronavirus patients, the government said Monday it is working with various industry bodies and manufacturers to streamline the supply chain, remove bottlenecks, and maintain a steady supply of necessary equipment.</p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;">With a major part of the country locked down, the Textile Ministry expressed unhappiness, and accused certain sections of "spreading misinformation on the efforts of the Government in augmenting the supplies of Body Coveralls, N-95 Masks, and 2-ply/3-ply Surgical Masks required for healthcare professionals dealing COVID-19 cases."</p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;">"Since Body Coveralls (PPE) is a specialized protective suit meant for high level of protection to the health professionals, it has stringent technical requirements as prescribed by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. Over the last 45 days, Ministries of Health & Family Welfare and Textiles are attempting to locate adequate number of sources who can produce and supply the requirement of Body Coveralls for the government," the government said in a press release.</p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;">During the last week of January, the technical standard for the coveralls was prescribed as per WHO class-3 exposure pressure, in accordance with ISO 16003 or its equivalent. Such materials are manufactured by a few international companies, which expressed their inability to supply on account of a complete glut in stocks and ban of exports by the source countries. Only a limited quantity was offered and procured by the procurement boy of the Ministry of Health.</p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;">The government said a wide outreach was immediately attempted through various meetings and interactions with the chambers of commerce, various textiles associations, medical textiles manufacturers, and suppliers with, HLL Lifecare Limited being the designated single-window procurement agency for the hospitals and healthcare organizations under the Ministry.</p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;">So far, prototype garments of six Indian manufacturers have passed the prescribed tests. The government issued orders banning of exports on all personal protective equipment, including body coveralls, N-95 Masks, and 2-ply/3-ply surgical masks on January 31. However, on request from the industry with an assurance that adequate supply of 2-ply/3-ply surgical masks at reasonable prices would be ensured, the ban on exports was lifted on February 8. It was re-imposed on March 19.</p>.