Turkey has delivered hundreds of thousands of surgical gowns to the UK which will be used by the NHS as personal protective equipment (PPE) in the fight against coronavirus.
An RAF aircraft landed at Brize Norton on Wednesday morning with up to about half of the promised kit. Other RAF planes were said to be on standby to collect the rest of what will eventually be 400,000 surgical gowns.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said the consignment was being “processed” in line with standard procedure and will be moved “on to the frontline as quickly as possible.”
The government is under pressure for failing to supply enough PPE for medial practitioners at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19.
On Monday, Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers – which represents healthcare trusts across England – said that while the 400,000 gowns from Turkey would be welcome, NHS staff were getting through approximately 150,000 gowns a day.
Care Minister Helen Whately said there was a global shortage of PPE and that some deliveries faced delays or did not turn up. “The really important thing therefore is that we are working to secure an excess of supply to make sure that we, in due course, will have more than we need and at least what we need,” she said.
Turkey has sent supplies such as protective equipment and sanitiser to a number of countries to help them step up their fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Turkish media reported that supplies have been sent to Balkan countries, as well as the U.S., Spain, Italy, Libya, Iran, Northern Cyprus and Pakistan. Other media has reported that supplies were also sent to Israel and the Palestinians.
A few weeks ago, a Turkish military cargo plane carrying medical supplies for use against the coronavirus pandemic arrived in the UK. The aid package included protective masks and overalls.
The medical aid supplies also carried a message for the people of the UK, saying: “After hopelessness, there is so much hope and after darkness, there is the much brighter sun – Rumi.”
Coronavirus hospital deaths in the UK stand at over 18,000 but the overall amount of deaths could be as high as 40,000.
Turkey confirmed on Tuesday 119 more fatalities from coronavirus over the past 24 hours, bringing the overall toll to 2,259.
But the total number of registered coronavirus cases has surged to 95,591, as 4,611 more people tested positive for the virus, the Health Ministry said on Twitter.