The Economic Times of India reported on Thursday that 50,000 of the 170,000 virus protection kits shipped by China on April 5 were “found unusable because they failed safety checks.” Two smaller consignments with a total of 40,000 kits were found completely unusable.
The Economic Times said the failed kits were all received as donations from unnamed private donors. Kits purchased by the Indian government are required to meet safety standards put forward by Indian agencies before they are shipped.
The government is ordering a million more sets of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) from Chinese suppliers to make up for a shortfall, while also ramping up domestic production.
“The number of orders being placed is growing. China is the major supplier. We were totally dependent on imports earlier and never expected that there would be a surge in demand,” a senior government official told the Economic Times.
India’s cases of coronavirus infection and death have been somewhat lower than its neighbors, possibly due to some combination of aggressive lockdowns, a climate unfavorable to the virus, and a young population hardened against infections such as malaria. Some virus experts have advised India to take precautions because the pandemic might just be running a little behind schedule and will soon spread more rapidly through India’s immense population.
If a major outbreak erupts there, the sheer number of cases could threaten to spread a second wave of infections through the entire region. Some fear an outbreak could already be brewing because India’s sparse testing resources could leave many cases undetected.
Muhammad Saad Khandalvi, head of a prominent Muslim group called Tablighi Jamaat, was indicted for manslaughter on Thursday because police say he ignored repeated warnings to cancel a mosque gathering in March that has been linked to over a thousand coronavirus cases.