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NEW DELHI : Signalling relief for healthcare workers battling the novel coronavirus pandemic without proper safety kits, a batch of 170,000 personal protection equipment (PPE) coveralls arrived from China on Monday.

“Along with domestic supplies of 20,000 coveralls, a total of 1.90 lakh (190,000) coveralls will now be distributed to hospitals and will add to the 3,87,473 PPEs already available in the country as of now," the government said in a press release.

About 290,000 PPE coveralls have been arranged and supplied by the government, it added.

A senior official involved in the procurement of PPE said more coveralls will arrive within a few days. Apart from coveralls, PPE includes masks, gloves, goggles and any other equipment that protect health workers from the infection.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said the Centre had allotted 27,000 PPE kits and they will soon be available for doctors in the state.

The Wockhardt Hospital in Mumbai was declared a containment zone on Monday after at least 30 staff, including doctors and nurses, were found covid-19 positive.

Last week, some contractual doctors and nurses of Hindu Rao Hospital in Delhi resigned citing lack of safety equipment. The North Delhi Municipal Corporation, under which the hospital comes, however, issued an order rejecting the resignations and sought disciplinary action against them.

On Monday, doctors of Safdarjung Hospital reiterated their call for voluntary donation of PPE. “Kindly do not give any fund deposit for the same but make voluntary donation in the form of protective gear," Ashu Kumar Meena, vice president of Safdarjung Hospital’s resident doctors’ association (RDA), said in a statement.

Earlier, Safdarjung’s RDA had written a similar letter on Friday. “The administration is trying its level best to procure protective equipment and consumables but the demand is surpassing the supply," it said in the letter, a copy of which was seen by Mint.

Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh and other hospitals across India are also facing a shortage of PPE. “Healthcare workers are not getting the support they need in terms of PPE and safety precautions, but they are being asked to continue working. The chief minister of Punjab has compared these doctors to deserters during a war. But would he send soldiers to war without arms and ammunition?" said Inayat Singh Kakar, member of health activist group Jan Swasthya Abhiyan.

leroy.l@livemint.com

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