HSE confirms no joint order with NI for protective kit as concerns raised over quality of new imports

HSE confirms no joint order with NI for protective kit as concerns raised over quality of new imports

Concerns about the quality of some protective equipment imported into Ireland from China amid the coronavirus pandemic have emerged across the country.

Images posted online show gowns with three-quarter length sleeves, leaving arms exposed.

Health chiefs have acknowledged supplies in some cases are different to what medics here are used to.

They are attempting to source additional equipment.

A €200m order has seen plane-loads of kit arriving in Ireland over recent days.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

It is intended to protect doctors and nurses who are braced for a surge in the number of Covid-19 patients in the country’s hospitals over coming weeks.

However, the Department of Health has confirmed that no joint order has been placed for personal protective equipment (PPE) from China in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Executive

A spokeswoman said: “We are ready to discuss any area where we can co-operate effectively, North and South, including on procurement of PPE and critical supplies.

“In relation to procurement, while it has not so far proved possible to place a joint order in the context of what is an increasingly challenging international environment, discussions between procurement teams are ongoing and active, and it remains our intention to continue to co-operate in this area.”

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said: “The equipment that is available in some circumstances is different to that which our healthcare professionals are used to.

“It is being tested and assessed by the Health Service Executive.

“Good use will be found for it. We will continue to look for additional equipment.

“It has become such a competitive environment for this equipment and we are looking at this all the time.”

Paul Reid, HSE chief executive, said supplies had been arriving on Aer Lingus flights since Sunday.

He added: “We are engaged worldwide to secure alternative stocks should these supplies not materialise to the extent that we expect.

“It is a very competitive worldwide market but our procurement teams have done really well to secure what we have to date.”

Meanwhile, official data has revealed that almost 90% of those dying with coronavirus in Ireland are aged 65 and above.

Two deaths have been recorded amongst patients aged between 25 and 34.

A total of 160 clusters of infection have been identified, and Dublin has recorded more than half the total of cases.

Nursing homes are undergoing a particular problem and Mr Donohoe said that is being considered by the Government.

    The latest restrictions in operation since Friday, March 27 mandate that everyone should stay at home, only leaving to:
  • Shop for essential food and household goods;
  • Attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products;
  • Care for children, older people or other vulnerable people - this excludes social family visits;
  • Exercise outdoors - within 2kms of your home and only with members of your own household, keeping 2 metres distance between you and other people
  • Travel to work if you provide an essential service - be sure to practice social distancing

Elsewhere, the Central Bank has warned the crisis is likely to make a €22bn hole in the country’s finances and the number of unemployed is soaring.

Mr Donohoe said:

Change that in the darkest of years would have taken a year to happen has happened over the space of a number of days

Ministers have announced a national initiative dubbed Shine Your Light for front-line staff and healthcare workers at 9pm on Easter Saturday.

Everyone is invited to take part in a gesture intended to express hope and remembrance for those who have died and their loved ones.

Public buildings, embassies and peacekeeping posts around the world will be lit up in solidarity.

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan said: “We have taken extraordinary and unprecedented measures, closing our places of learning, our cafes, pubs, theatres, galleries and venues, and our cultural institutions and curtailing access to our national parks and nature reserves.

“These actions are slowing the spread of Covid-19, flattening the curve. They are reducing the pressure on our hospitals, saving countless lives.

“In the midst of this, there has been an outpouring of creative and artistic responses to our new circumstances.”

She launched a €1m fund to encourage artistic creativity during the lockdown.

A total of 334 awards worth €3,000 each will be made.

The minister said: “We are trying to ignite that creative fire in the people out there.”

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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