‘No problems’: Turkey refutes claims it sent faulty PPE to UK

UK media reports claimed 400,000 gowns sent from Turkey failed to meet safety standards.

An Airbus A400M military cargo plane of the RAF carried the healthcare equipment to the UK on April 22 [Isa Terli/Anadolu]
An Airbus A400M military cargo plane of the RAF carried the healthcare equipment to the UK on April 22 [Isa Terli/Anadolu]

The gowns shipped to the United Kingdom from Turkey that reportedly failed to meet safety standards were provided by a private Turkish company and not the government, according to a Turkish official who said the equipment sent by Ankara was safe to use.

Hundreds of thousands of personal protective equipment (PPE) items, including 400,000 gowns, arrived in the UK on April 22, three days later than scheduled.

However, it was only on Thursday when officials said the gowns did not meet the required standards, a claim refuted by Turkish officials.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said the gowns were not “of the quality that we feel is good enough for our front-line staff” treating coronavirus patients, adding that the government decided not to use them.

The UK government, quoted by the national media, said the National Health Service (NHS) was in talks to acquire new gowns and looking into getting a refund from the supplier.

On Friday, a Turkish government official told Al Jazeera the UK ordered PPE items from a private Turkish company and not the government.

“When that company failed to fulfill the entire order, USHAS [a government agency] provided the rest to prevent a shortage in the UK,” the official said.

“What seems to be defective or below-par products are limited to the equipment supplied by the private seller rather than the government of Turkey. The Turkish government authorised this sale despite an export ban, out of solidarity with the UK authorities.”

Turkey’s export ban on PPE was lifted in early May.

‘No problem’ with supplies

In a press release on Thursday, the Turkish health ministry said UK authorities were contacted over the issue after the story appeared in the British media.

“The NHS officials sent a written confirmation to us that there is no problem concerning these products,” the press release said.

The email was shared with a number of media outlets, including Al Jazeera.

The British ambassador to Turkey, Dominick Chilcott, also rejected the stories in the UK media, saying reports of “400,000 items of PPE sent from Turkey are unusable are untrue”.

“A small number of gowns from a private supplier have failed tests. But more gowns from that supplier have passed tests and are suitable for use in the NHS,” Chilcott tweeted late on Thursday.

“The #UK government remains very grateful to the #Turkish government for its support of the UK’s requirements for PPE,” he added.

Turkey has sent medical aid to at least 57 countries since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Turkish health ministry, the government also donated 100,000 certified overalls, 100,000 surgical masks and 50,000 N95 masks to the UK on April 7 without any issues.

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Amid huge global demand, the UK has struggled to maintain a constant supply of PPE items. It recently surpassed Italy in the coronavirus death toll, becoming Europe’s worst-hit and the world’s second worst-hit country.

More than 30,500 people have died in the UK from the new coronavirus. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has also been heavily criticised over its response to the pandemic, in particular, the start of a lockdown in the country and PPE shortages.

Follow Umut Uras on Twitter: @Um_Uras

Source : Al Jazeera

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