PPE shipment from China amounts to just over 12 days’ stock

Consignment of 900,000 isolation gowns arrived at Shannon in world's largest aircraft

In Ireland the Government is stockpiling personal protective equipment  in anticipation of a second wave of Covid-19. File photograph: The Irish Times

In Ireland the Government is stockpiling personal protective equipment in anticipation of a second wave of Covid-19. File photograph: The Irish Times


The Health Service Executive has received a consignment of 900,000 isolation gowns from China, representing just 12½ days’ of stock based on current demand.

The consignment arrived in Shannon Airport on Wednesday and follows a delivery of 100,000 gowns earlier this week.

It was delivered in the world’s largest aircraft, the six-engine Antonov An-225 Mriya, and came to Shannon because that airport has the longest runway in Ireland and is the only Irish airport that can accommodate this plane.

Meanwhile, a study published in The BMJ [The British Medical Journal] has found that hundreds of frontline healthcare professionals who were at high risk of exposure to Covid-19 did not contract the infection or develop immunity to it.

Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is effective in preventing infection in healthcare professionals who work in highly exposed environments, concluded the Chinese study.

The staff were working away from home, so had limited social interactions after work which probably contributed to the absence of infection, researchers acknowledged.

Healthcare systems “must give priority to the procurement and distribution of PPE, and provide adequate training to healthcare professionals in its use”, they recommend.

Covid-19 infection among healthcare professionals was very common in Wuhan and in other countries in the early phase of the outbreak, with inappropriate PPE believed to be a significant factor in infection.

Researchers from Sun Yat-sen University, China, and University of Birmingham, UK, examined the protective effects of appropriate PPE for frontline healthcare professionals during the pandemic.

Their findings are based on 420 doctors and nurses with an average age of 36 years deployed to Wuhan for six to eight weeks from January to April caring for patients with Covid-19.

What research data emerged?

They worked four- to six-hour shifts for an average of 5.4 days a week, and an average of 16.2 hours each week in intensive care units.

All were provided with appropriate protective equipment, including suits, masks, gloves, goggles, face shields and gowns. They also received training in the correct use of PPE and in reducing their exposure to infection when caring for patients.

None of the study participants reported Covid-19 related symptoms. When the participants returned home all tested negative for the infection or its antibodies.

In Ireland Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the Government is stockpiling PPE in anticipation of a second wave of Covid-19.

A second wave, or spike in Covid-19 cases, or indeed another type of virus is possible, and it is important to be prepared, he said.

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