The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority on Wednesday took over the monitoring of personal protective equipment by including them under medical devices to ensure its availability for all healthcare professionals in India fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a letter to the chief secretaries of all the state governments and Union Territories, NPPA chairperson Shubhra Singh sought status of the shortage or availability of personal protective gear, masks, gloves, testing kits and ventilators by April 5.

Singh also asked them to provide details of the procurement orders issued by the respective state governments and the stock available at government hospitals and other healthcare establishments.

The letter also stated that the Centre has notified around 5,000 medical devices as drugs and they now come under regulatory supervision for quality control and price monitoring.

This came at a time when doctors, nurses and ambulance workers from various parts of the country have urged the government to ensure necessary items for their safety during treatment of the coronavirus patients in last few weeks.

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.