With government hospitals across the State having admitted a few persons with travel history to China and symptoms of the coronavirus in the last few days, the Health department is all set to procure additional N95 masks, triple-layer masks and personal protective equipment kits for healthcare professionals and workers this week.
Last week, India banned the export of personal protective equipment like masks in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in China. Chinese firms had earlier sought the supply of N95 masks from Indian manufacturers.
However, the export ban has brought down the demand for N95 masks, which are primarily meant for healthcare personnel, officials said.
Now, the Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation (TNMSC) is purchasing additional protective gear for government hospitals across the State. “TNMSC is purchasing 50,000 N95 masks. Orders were issued and the consignment is expected by Friday. Similarly, orders for purchase of five lakh triple-layer normal masks have been issued, and supply is expected by Wednesday,” an official of the Health department said.
In addition, the TNMSC is purchasing 20,000 pieces of personal protective equipment, which would be supplied by Thursday. “The safety gear will mostly be supplied to government medical college hospitals and district hospitals and, in small numbers, to other government hospitals,” he added.
Officials said N95 masks were primarily meant for healthcare workers in hospital settings. “In China, they have recommended the use of these masks by the public due to the spread of the infection at the community level. There is no need for the public to use N95 masks unless they are in an epidemic situation,” an official said.
J. Jayaseelan, chairman, Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association, said there was currently not much demand for N95 masks, and this could be due to the ban on export of all kinds of masks and gloves.“Now, China is trying to get supply of antiviral tablets from India,” he added.-The Hindu