Staff at the King George’s Medical University in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, was asked to donate a day’s salary so that the administration can purchase protective equipment for the front-line workers to tackle Covid-19, National Herald reported on Saturday. However, the order, issued on Friday, appears to have been rescinded on the same day.

On Friday, the chief medical superintendent of Gandhi Memorial Medical College of KGMU wrote to the registrar, asking him to purchase three-layered masks for the doctors with the money donated by the staff members, including nurses and Class 4 employees. “As you know that coronavirus has taken the shape of a pandemic,” said the letter. “The staff urgently require three-layered masks for their protection during treatment. The staff has proposed to donate one day’s salary and the money collected could be used for the purchase of mask.”

This order was issued a week after a 25-year-old junior resident doctor of the King George Medical University tested positive for the coronavirus. The doctor came in contact with two patients undergoing treatment for the disease on its premises.

Uttar Pradesh Congress spokesperson Amarnath Agarwal criticised the order. “This is pathetic to know that now staff of medical college, which are authorised to carry coronavirus tests and treat infected persons, are forced to collect money so that they can purchase safety equipment,” he said.

As India braces for a potential surge of Covid-19 cases, the lack of protective gear is one of the biggest concerns across the country. In the weeks since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in India on January 31, as reported by previously, manufacturers of personal protection equipment had sent several emails to the health ministry. They asked for clear standards or specifications on the quality, design and testing requirements of safety gear for health workers dealing with Covid-19 patients. Despite the repeated requests by the manufacturers, the Centre released guidelines for the manufacture of Covid-19 safety gear on the same day as it announced a 21-day lockdown. With a complete transport shutdown now, workers of the factories that produce the safety gear are struggling to get to work.

Similarly, a circular asking postgraduate doctors to bring hand sanitisers and masks was withdrawn minutes after it was issued by Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Chennai. The order was issued on Monday, according to The New Indian Express. Doctors on duty told the newspaper that there was a shortage of safety equipment in the hospital, adding that they are forced to use cloth masks to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

“Have personal protective equipment on your own,” the order said. “Carry hand sanitisers with you in your coat pockets. Do hand washing frequently. Quarantined postgraduate doctors don’t roam about anywhere. The unit has to be taken care of by concerned unit PGs.”

However, on Monday Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabaskar said the health department had more than sufficient stock in hand and action will be taken for spreading rumours.

Also read:

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  2. Investigation: Crucial coronavirus gear supply clouded by allegations of government ‘malintention’