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China sends PPE cargo to help Scots health workers

Cargo arrives from China

A supply of ten million face masks and other essential personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers has arrived in Scotland from China.

The cargo which also included infusion pumps for Intensive Care Units and virus collecting kits for use in health laboratories, landed at Glasgow Prestwick Airport on Saturday.

It will also relieve pressure on ministers north of the border amid concern from NHS staff and care home operators about the availability of protective equipment.

However, concern continues south of the border after it emerged that a supply of PPE due from Turkey has been delayed as alarm grew over calls for health workers to re-use aprons and clothing.

Responding to an article in the Sunday Times criticising the UK government’s handling of the crisis, Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove today accepted that Britain had sent supplies of PPE to China to help out during the Wuhan outbreak, but Britain had since received help from China in return.

Mr Gove dismissed criticism that Boris Johnson ‘missed’ five Cobra meetings on the virus, arguing that there was no requirement for the Prime Minister to attend every meeting of the emergency committee.

He said it was “grotesque” to portray Prime Minister Boris Johnson “as though not caring about this”.

Commenting on today’s delivery of PPE, Scottish Minister for Trade, Ivan McKee said: “Protecting staff working on the frontline is an absolute priority which is why we have been working at pace with the NHS and manufacturers both in Scotland and internationally to improve and increase the supply of PPE.

“This charter flight, carrying additional equipment ordered by the Scottish Government, is significant and we will be focusing the distribution of these supplies to health and social care settings over the coming days.

The Scottish Government will continue to do all it can to make health and social care staff feel as safe as possible

– Ivan McKee, Trade Minister

“In these incredibly challenging times the Scottish Government will continue to do all it can to make health and social care staff feel as safe as possible in their workplace.”

Jim Miller, Director of Procurement, Commissioning and Facilities at NHS National Services Scotland (NSS), said: “This delivery is the result of a painstaking collective effort involving multiple partners working together to provide our NHS and social care colleagues with the PPE they need to keep them safe.

“Together with supply partners and Scottish Government, NSS continues to work 24/7 to source and supply the PPE that Scotland needs to fight COVID-19.”

NHS National Procurement supported by a cross-government team led by the Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation and including the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, NHS Scotland and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland has helped to secure this equipment from suppliers in China.

Masks are Type IIR which are fluid resistant. They will be distributed across health and social care settings. The Virus Collection and Transport Medium (VTM) Kits will be for use within health board laboratories.

Over the last five to seven weeks, around 50 million PPE items have been delivered to hospitals.

Eight weeks’ supply of PPE was delivered to GPs in Scotland during the week of 30 March.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today called on the Scottish Government to outline when it will have sufficient testing capacity to restart contact tracing on the scale that may be needed to exit the lockdown. 

He has also asked for a detailed plan of the steps that are being taken to get the country ready.

“I am not asking the First Minister to reveal exactly when we will exit lockdown but I think it is reasonable to ask when there will be sufficient capacity to conduct effective contact tracing that may be part of the exit strategy.

“Contact tracing has a significant role to play in tracking the spread of coronavirus and ensuring a rapid response. We’ve seen it work effectively abroad, from Germany to South Korea.

“When we get to a state when restrictions are starting to be lifted, the ability to test, trace and isolate cases could become incredibly important if we are the prevent a second wave of infections immediately breaking out.


On 10 April the Scottish Government issued a joint statement with the unions and COSLA that explains the position on PPE in social care.

Updated guidance on PPE for health and social care workers was published on 2 April. 

Email address for people to contact if they do not have the PPE they need:

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