The Assam government has decided to not use the Chinese personal protection equipment (PPE) kits - imported from China this week - in its fight against coronavirus. The decision was taken after a section of health workers and doctors raised doubts on the quality and efficacy of the kits following a media report, state health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.
"Now we have a stock of 2 lakhs PPE kits. We will use 1.50 lakhs PPE kits first; and we have asked the supplier in Guwahati to keep the 50 thousand Chinese PPE kits in his godown. We will send samples for quality testing, and then later, if required, will get them (if they pass the test)," he said.
On Wednesday, Assam became the first state in the country to have imported equipment from the virus-hit country amid a nationwide lockdown. The consignment was received at the airport by Mr Sarma himself.
"Some media channel in Assam ran stories about the 50 thousand Chinese PPE kits to be faulty. Since yesterday a section of our doctors, health workers have been sounding uncomfortable and anxious about the kits. We don't want them to get hassled," he added.
The minister said when the order was placed, there was an acute shortage of the kits in the state.
PPE kits - the equipment that guard health workers and doctors from getting infected - have been in short supply as the exporter countries are saving them for internal contingencies. China, which claims it has flattened the coronavirus curve, is the only exporter in business.
Several frontline health workers and doctors have complained of the shortage of PPE kits in India.
Assam has reported 34 COVID-19; 12 of them have been cured, one died. Mr Sarma said the state will shortly flatten the curve.
"We have decided on two things. We will be taking nose swab, and the family members of a positive patient will be quarantined for 28 days. In this first phase of coronavirus outbreak, we were able to quickly isolate the infected person and his family and thus broke the chain of transmission; and thus we are on our way to flatten the curve," he said.