- The matter was discovered after a tweet from the Serbian wing of UNDP
- The health ministry has denied any knowledge of the matter
- There were masks and coveralls, which medical workers direly need
Amid a huge crunch of protective gear for medical personnel treating COVID-19 patients, India has exported 90 tons of medical equipment and safety gear to Serbia. The matter was discovered after a tweet from the Serbian wing of the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) which is providing support to coronavirus-affected nations. The health ministry denied any knowledge of the matter.
The item that was exported is not in the prohibited list, government sources said.
"The 2nd cargo Boeing 747 with 90t of medical protective equipment landed from India to Belgrade today. The transportation of valuable supplies purchased by @SerbianGov has been fully funded by the #EU while @UNDPSerbia organized the flight & ensured the fastest possible delivery," the tweet by UNDP read.
The 2nd cargo Boeing 747 with 90t of medical protective equipment landed from India to Belgrade today. The transportation of valuable supplies purchased by @SerbianGov has been fully funded by the #EU while @UNDPSerbia organized the flight & ensured the fastest possible delivery. pic.twitter.com/pMZqV7dwTg— UNDP in Serbia (@UNDPSerbia) March 29, 2020
The 90-ton consignment included 50 tons of surgical gloves. Besides, there were masks and coveralls, which medical workers direly need.
The spokesperson of Kochi airport said another consignment was sent on March 29, which included 35 lakh pairs of sterile surgical glove.
The 30-ton consignment was sent to Belgrade on a Transaviaexport Airlines cargo freighter. The Cochin Customs had facilitated the clearance and tweeted about it.
The tweet read: "Cochin customs in action to clear a consignment of 35 lakhs pairs of sterile latex surgical gloves to Serbia to support the global war against #COVID2019 "
Asked about the matter, the health ministry said they were not aware of it. "Our effort is to create logistics in India and to acquire material from other countries. With respect to Serbia, I am not aware of it as of now," said Luv Agarwal, the Joint Secretary in MoHFW.
The Congress hit out at the government.
What is this happening Mr Prime Minister @narendramodi ? While Frontline Indian Health workers are struggling for protective equipment we are supplying Serbia.@airindiain to fly out Germans & 90 Tonnes of Protective Medical Equipment to Serbia. Are we nuts ? This is CRIMINAL. https://t.co/JY4ixlnJkz— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) April 1, 2020
Nearly 100 doctors have been quarantined across the country after they came in contact with coronavirus patients while working without any protective gear. Several have even contracted the virus.
In Lucknow, authorities of the prestigious King George's Medical University, the hub of treatment of the COVID-19 pandemic in Uttar Pradesh, turned down the OPD doctors' request for specialised protective equipment a week after a resident doctor contracted the disease.
There have been reports that doctors in some corners of the country have been using raincoats and motorbike helmets.
On Monday, the association of ambulance employees in Uttar Pradesh said they were stopping work over non-payment of salaries for two months and lack of protective gear despite being on the front-line in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, the Centre said it was trying to procure bulk quantities of such gear, called personal protective equipment (PPE), domestically and from South Korea and China to meet the shortages.