Monday, 30th October 2017

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Medical equipment land at Calcutta airport

Cargo flown in from China, Switzerland

By Sanjay Mandal in Calcutta
  • Published 31.03.20, 2:01 AM
  • Updated 31.03.20, 2:01 AM
  • a min read
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Medical equipment at the cargo terminal of the airport Telegraph picture

Ventilators from Switzerland, infrared thermometers from China and personal protection gear from Chennai — equipment for treating Covid-19 patients and those suspected to have contracted the virus — have started arriving at Calcutta airport since last week, officials said.

As the state prepares to fight a possible spurt in coronavirus cases, government and private hospitals are buying vital treatment and diagnostic equipment from other countries and states.

“Since it’s an emergency situation, we are getting most equipment by air,” a state government official said.

The consignments started arriving last Friday, officials at the airport’s cargo terminal said.

The state is in talks with export and import agents to procure a large number of Covid-19 test kits and ventilators, airport sources said. Quotations have also been sought for protective gear such as goggles, N-95 masks, disposable surgical gowns and masks, personal protective equipment (PPE) and gloves. Most of these have to be flown in from China, health department sources said.

The government is also planning to procure civil epidemic prevention equipment such as daily-wear masks and forehead thermometers.

A consignment of 5,000 infrared thermometers has arrived from China. Three ventilators ordered by the government of a northeastern state were flown in from Zurich on a special cargo aircraft last week, said airport officials.

A SpiceJet cargo aircraft brought 277 boxes containing PPE for doctors and healthcare workers. The consignment also contained gloves, caps and shoe covers for government hospitals across the state, an official said.

“There is a scarcity of infrared thermometers in the city as they have been in high demand at shopping malls, shops, private and government offices, private hospitals and nursing homes. These are mostly manufactured in China and private importing agencies are getting orders for fresh imports,” an official handling cargo at Calcutta airport said.

The cargo terminal is operating all day. “We are working with reduced manpower but all our staff members are on standby,” said Rahul Nandy, deputy general manager, cargo division at Calcutta airport.

Air India and its subsidiary Alliance Air are flying most of the consignments. “An Alliance Air flight from Delhi to Calcutta carried shipments for Calcutta, Guwahati, Dibrugarh and Agartala,” an Air India spokesperson said.

The cargo division usually handles 130 tonnes of export and 60 tonnes of import goods every day but now that has been reduced to a few hundred kilograms, an official said.