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Coronavirus: Govt ropes in DPSUs to produce PPE, medical equipment

To give a boost to India’s ability to produce PPE kits and medical equipment in the fight against Coronavirus, the govt has roped in BEL, DRDO and BEML
New Delhi: In order to give a boost to India’s ability to produce PPE (personal protection equipment) kits and other essential medical equipment in the fight against Coronavirus pandemic, the government has roped in various PSUs like BEL, DRDO, and BEML. While BEL has received an order for 30,000 ventilators, DRDO, in collaboration with local companies, is producing 20,000 N99 masks per day. All drug companies have assured the government that there will not be any shortage of drugs during this crisis and even auto manufacturers are working to develop and produce ventilators.

Coronavirus: Govt places order for 30,000 ventilators with BEL

An order for 30,000 ventilators has been placed with BEL, which is going to collaborate with domestic manufacturers in this endeavour. Domestic manufacturer Agva Healthcare in Noida has been able to develop suitable ventilators and order of 10,000 ventilators has been placed with it. Supplies are expected to commence by the second week of April. Indian Auto manufacturers are also preparing to manufacture ventilators. In the meantime, orders have been placed on international companies like Hamilton, Mindray, and Draeger to supply ventilators. Ministry of External Affairs is also approaching suppliers in China for sourcing 10,000 ventilators from them.

DRDO makes PPE in collaboration with local manufacturers 

N95 masks are being manufactured by two domestic producers. They are able to supply 50,000 masks per day at the moment, but are ramping up capacities to make 1 lakh masks per day within the next week. DRDO is also collaborating with local manufacturers to produce about 20,000 N99 masks per day. This supply is also expected to become available in a week’s time. Hospitals in the country have 11.95 lakh N95 masks in stock as of now. Additional 5 lakh masks were distributed in the past two days and 1.40 lakh masks are being distributed today. 10 lakh masks would be part of the PPE kits being sourced from Singapore.

BEML set to deploy AI-based smart field ambulance in fight against Coronavirus

State-run BEML has also deployed its AI-based smart field ambulance to aid efforts being undertaken by the government to detect and treat Coronavirus infections. The ambulance features an AI-powered diagnostic system for troops in field. It is mounted on BEML TATRA 8x8/6x6 high mobility vehicle platform. Designated to cover medical diagnostic needs of troops in forward posts, including high altitude areas, it has fully integrated Digital Radiology, Cardiograph, Pathology Laboratory, Point of Care Devices, Digital Microscope, Digital Fundus Camera, Eye Analysis, Diabetic Retinopathy etc.

The backdrop

Personal protection equipment (PPE) kits are used by medical personnel working in isolation areas and intensive care units to protect them from acquiring infections. They were not being manufactured in the country. With the prospect of a huge requirement of PPEs arising in the near future, the Government of India made proactive efforts to promote their manufacturing in the country. Ministry of Textiles and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have been working together in this endeavour. Domestic manufacturers rose to the occasion and so far 12 manufacturers have cleared quality tests. Orders for over 21 lakh PPE coveralls have been placed on them. Currently, they are supplying 6-7,000 coveralls per day and this is expected to go up to 15,000 per day within the next week.

Current status

As of now, 3.34 lakh PPEs are available in various hospitals across the country that are on the frontline of the battle against Coronavirus. About 60,000 PPE kits have already been procured and supplied by the government. Indian Red Cross Society has arranged 10,000 PPE kits from China which have also been received and are being distributed. Another 3 lakh donated PPE coveralls are to arrive by April 4. An order for 3 lakh PPEs has been placed with ordinance factories to bolster the efforts taken by the government to contain Coronavirus pandemic. Ventilators are required for Covid-19 patients, as they tend to develop acute respiratory disease syndrome (ARDS). Less than 20 Coronavirus patients are on ventilator support at this moment. As against this, over 14,000 ventilators have been identified in various hospitals across the country for the treatment of Coronavirus patients.