GUWAHATI: Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday said that the state will not be using the 50,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) kits that it received from China amid rumours that it is of sub-standard quality, triggering fears among the healthcare workers.
Sarma, in a press conference on Saturday said that "baseless allegations" had come from some quarters that the Chinese kits had failed the tests and were rejected by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), while adding that DRDO has already clarified through an official statement that no kit was rejected.
"Several doctors and nurses have messaged me regarding these kits as they are in doubt about their quality. We do not want them to feel demotivated or confused at this juncture. They are engaged in a battle against the coronavirus and we have decided not to use those PPE kits for now," Sarma was quoted saying by a news agency.
On April 15, Assam had directly imported 50,000 PPE kits from Guangzhou in China and the health minister had himself received it. He said that few kits will now be sent for testing to government-accredited laboratories. "We have asked the suppliers to keep the kits in their store and in the meantime, we will send a few for testing to government-accredited laboratories," Sarma said.
He said some people are indulging in politics by spreading false and baseless allegations but the authorities are now more concerned about the medical staff, who are at the forefront of the fight against the virus.
He said the state government had placed the order with the suppliers "when we had around 2,000 PPE kits only, but now we have 1.50 lakh kits with us. It gives a mental strength to know that these are available in our stores and can be used, if required".
The state already had one lakh PPE kits and with the arrival of this consignment, "we are nearer to our target of two lakh, at which it will be capped", Sarma said. "Now we are using the Indian kits but we have the Chinese kits in our reserve stock. Those will be made available when required," he added. He also added the stock can also be sent to the neighbouring states, if need arises.