UK flies in Turkish coronavirus medical aid to help NHS

UK flies in Turkish coronavirus medical aid to help NHS
A shipment of 84 tonnes of personal protective equipment has arrived in the UK from Turkey, amid mounting criticism of the government's coronavirus response.
2 min read
22 April, 2020
The UK is facing a serious shortage of PPE for NHS frontliners [Getty]

A UK health minister has confirmed that a delayed shipment of personal protective equipment (PPE) has arrived in the UK from Turkey.

Care Minister Helen Whately said at least part of the consignment arrived on a Royal Air Force flight and was being checked. Whatley did not explain the four-day hold up in delivery but said that checks were being carried out on the order.

According to sources cited by The Guardian, the RAF aircraft was estimated to be carrying 20 of the 84 tonnes of stock ordered from Turkey. The order includes 400,000 protective gowns for NHS frontliners, who are currently using around 150,000 per day.

On Saturday, UK Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told reporters that the 84 tonnes of equipment urgently required by medical staff would arrive by the next day.

When the consignment failed to arrive, no official explanation was given, however sources told Sky News earlier this week said that a formal request for the equipment was only made to Turkey on Sunday.

The UK government came under further criticism when Education Minister Gavin Williamson said on Sunday that he "hoped" the PPE would arrive on Monday.

The UK is one of the countries worst hit by the pandemic, with 18,100 deaths in hospital alone - and many more feared in care homes and the community.

The government ordered a national lockdown on 23 March but has seen mounting criticism about the extent of screening for the virus and for refusing to detail an exit strategy from the social distancing regime.

Ministers have also become embroiled in a simmering row about Britain's delay in joining an EU scheme to bulk buy medical equipment, and whether it was linked to Brexit.

The government says the delay was due to "communication problems" - but the foreign ministry's top civil servant on Tuesday said it was a "political decision".

In an extraordinary U-turn, Simon McDonald then retracted his evidence to the foreign affairs committee, writing to tell them it was "incorrect".

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