The government has roped in three local manufacturers who can produce around 20,000 pieces of this personal protective equipment per week expecting a shortage of disposable body coveralls, 3-ply surgical and N-95 masks for doctors and health workers battling the Covid-19 outbreak.

India, which used to meet its annual demand of around one lakh pieces for these medical textiles through imports from China, the US, Germany and Switzerland, now pegs its requirement at around 50-60 lakh pieces in the next two months.

While the textiles ministry has on-boarded Vadodara-based Sure Safety, Bengaluru’s Amaryllis Healthcare and Gurugram-based Sai Synergy LLP, it has also reached out to other domestic players for these products, a senior official of the ministry said.

“We are working to improve the supply position for medical textiles. Earlier, these products were required only in biotech labs and our need was fulfilled by imports,” said the official, adding that 3M, Honeywell and DuPont were India’s major suppliers till now.

These products are categorised as “level 4” as they are used in healthcare activities with high risk of contamination and need to be properly disposed of after being in use for 5-6 hours.

“We have committed 30,000 pieces of disposable coveralls and 3-ply surgical masks in three weeks. All these are completely made in India,” said Anurag Singhal, director, Sai Synergy LLP, adding that his firm has the capacity to produce 2 lakh pieces every month.

Sai Synergy, which will supply the first order, next week, needs additional 150 people to meet the increased demand.

“There is no contract but the government wants continuous supply,” Singhal said, but added that scarcity of labour and higher costs emanating from that is a challenge and the government’s low prices are not matching with the higher costs.

“These products need to meet global standards and there have been only three firms as of now who have successfully met those,” the official added. All these products will be procured by the health ministry. While the ministry has some stock, the government is keen to get more of such protective gear.

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