Private companies seek relaxation in Corona team, government remains firm on security

NEW DELHI: At a time when the government imposed a 21-day blockade to contain the spread of the coronavirus, a controversy arose after some manufacturers of (PPE) asked the government to change certain guidelines for manufacturing, including allowing them to self-assert their products rather than testing them in a lab, claiming they could save precious time on the run to protect struggling healthcare workers.

The Union textile minister, however, told TOI that the rules would not be watered down as utmost caution is required during follow-up.

The letter to the government from two healthcare manufacturing associations, the Indian Preventive Clothing Manufacturers Association and the Indian Medical Device Industry Association (AIMED), has demanded that the mandatory testing equipment requirement for Protection at the South Indian Textile Research Association (SITRA) laboratory in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, will be lifted to avoid delays.

Copy of letter from Rajiv Nath, coordinator, Association of Indian Medical Device Industry.

Associations have suggested that SITRA recommended raw materials can be used and that body coats should be self-evaluated. Currently, samples must be sent to the laboratory for analysis and certification.

A joint secretary-level official added that 11 manufacturers had already undergone the tests necessary to meet technical standards and that there was no reason to make exceptions. TOI had previously reported that 11 companies, including the denim maker, have been tied up to produce protective gear.

We cannot ignore the established testing standards. This is a ministerial standard. The fabric used is a special non-woven fabric made only by specific manufacturers. We should not take any risks at this stage, Gautam Nair, member of the executive committee, clothing export promotion council. he said to TOI.

Associations have also demanded the removal of HLL, a company from the Indian government, as the sole supplier of PPE kits; Recruit the workforce of garment exporters and manufacturers to increase production under the supervision of 20 listed manufacturers. They have also sought to eliminate the requirement of duct tape on the seams of the body suit. The tape prevents the entry of fluids or drops.

However, Irani told TOI: Internationally required specifications cannot be diluted as it can be life-threatening for medical and health professionals. I am grateful that 11 previous manufacturers and now three more (14 now) have overcome a challenge in less than a month to manufacture PPE, kits indigenously, after meeting all medical-technical standards and passing all mandatory tests.

A senior textile official said: The tests only take two to three days and we cannot go against the rules. It is a difficult time and manufacturers should support us to ensure a fast supply.