Massive Turkey-UK coronavirus PPE shipment fails British safety standards tests
A shipment of over 80 tonnes of personel protective equipment (PPE) from Turkey to the United Kingdom has been impounded after failing to meet local safety standards.
The consignment, which includes 400,000 medical gowns, was the subject of broad public scrutiny last month after it failed to arrive when government ministers had promised it would.
The Department for Health and Social Care confirmed on Wednesday that the items were at a facility near London's Heathrow airport. The department will reportedly return the shipment and seek a refund from Turkey.
“All deliveries of PPE are checked to ensure the equipment meets the safety and quality standards our frontline staff need," a DHSC spokesman was quoted by The Guardian as saying.
"If equipment does not meet our specifications or pass our quality assurance processes, it is not distributed to the front line,”
The PPE shipment arrived from Turkey last month amid increasing warnings from health workers and unions over the safety of National Health Service (NHS) frontliners.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick announced that the equipment was on its way to the UK, saying that healthworkers should be “assured that we are doing everything we can to correct this issue”.
The shipment did not arrive when promised by ministers, with Turkish sources claiming at the time that the necessary clearances had not been sought, despite officials saying that the equipment was on its way.
The rejected equipment is the latest in a series of failed initiatives by the UK government, which has come under fire for its handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Britain has now recorded 30,076 deaths from coronavirus, the highest in Europe, although each country has a different method of recording its official toll.
Broader data, however, puts the number at above 32,000.
Johnson said last week that Britain had past the peak of the outbreak, the daily death toll was falling and the infection rate dropping below one -- meaning each person with the disease is passing it on to less than one person.
But he also warned against the risk of a "second spike", and hinted at a gradual rollback of restrictions.
Agencies have contributed to this report.