Mumbai: India’s ventilator manufacturers said the ban on commercial airlines to land in India would cause a shortage of vital components required to assemble the machines. They fear disruptions in the supply of the respirators that are essential to treat serious cases of coronavirus infection.

Late on Thursday, India banned the exports of ventilators, certain kinds of masks, and textile raw materials for masks and coveralls, to prevent shortage of these in India. But for manufacturing the ventilators locally, companies said they needed imported components.

ET spoke to several companies that supply ventilators to private and government hospitals. They said there was already a supply disruption due to shutdowns at component makers based out of Europe and China and that the ban on international flights would add to the strain.

Mumbai-based Median Healthcare, a manufacturer, had placed an order for LCD screens used in ventilators that were due to arrive next week. It is worried that the ban would affect the arrival of the consignment and that it would not be able to meet the demand of customers that had placed orders.

“We are in trouble. I have 25 units that needs to be assembled, but I do not have the parts required for its functioning. Without those parts, my order is incomplete,” managing director Nikunj Gada said. Gada said he has had enquiries for over 200 ventilators from various government district hospitals, but he couldn’t meet their demand because there were no stocks. Even sourcing these from abroad is becoming difficult as most international manufacturers are saying no delivery can take place in next 60 days, Gada told ET. In India, more than 15,000 people so far have been tested for Covid-19. On Thursday the number of those tested positive was around 170, out of which 19 had recovered. If the number of critical cases goes up, India’s capacity to handle those who need respiratory support will be stretched.

According to rough estimates, there are about 30,000 ventilators in India — every state has a different number. Lifeline Biz MD Vineet Acharya said the ratio of ventilators per ICU was low in the country. “The ventilator crisis will come up if and when India reaches the number as Italy’s,” Acharya said. “Let’s hope we don’t reach the Italy numbers, because then we are in big trouble.”

In Mumbai, which has seen the highest number of Covid-19 cases in India, the Kasturba Hospital that is treating patients has only four ventilators.

There is a shortage of equipment in Mumbai as new procurements from the civic corporation hasn’t happened in the last few years, said a manufacturer who did not wish to be named.

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