A large number of ventilators, personal protection gear and infrared thermometers — critical medical equipment urgently required by doctors and paramedics to combat the Covid-19 pandemic — arrived in the city since the lockdown began on March 23 evening.
According to Kolkata airport sources, a bulk of the consignment flown in by freighters from abroad and other Indian cities had been ordered by the state health department. These included a consignment of 42 ventilators, which arrived in a cargo plane from Bangkok on March 26, and a further 581kg medical equipment from abroad in freighters over the next couple of days.
The first international consignment to arrive in the city was 5,000 infrared thermometers from China.
Domestic cargo flights have also carried nearly 48kg Covid kits and another consignment of monitors that weighed 31kg. In addition, 926kg medical equipment got shipped in over the past several days, ensuring a steady flow of supplies by air when most other modes of transport are disrupted.
Around 300kg medical equipment and medicines have also been shipped out of Kolkata to other states in the north-east, including Tripura that has been facing an acute shortage of medicines.
Health department sources confirmed the consignments of PPE comprising gloves, masks, caps and shoe covers had arrived along with ventilators required to treat severe Covid-19 patients with acute respiratory trouble. “We are sourcing more of both and they will continue to arrive too,” said an official.
With demand for all critical equipment to combat Covid-19 increasing worldwide, sourcing them is proving a major challenge. America, UK, Italy and Spain are all struggling to source more ventilators and PPE as the number of infected cases and deaths in these countries continues to go up.
Demand for even infrared thermometers has shot through the roof with not just hospitals but also offices, malls and other public establishments purchasing them to detect Covid-19 suspects.
Keen to ensure that the vital supply line at this critical juncture is operational, the cargo team at Kolkata airport has put in place stringent measures to prevent infection. The team has been split into smaller units so that if one unit is infected, it can be replaced by another. Besides, all staff entering the cargo unit are screened daily to ensure that they do not have fever.
Source: Times of India