Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at Guwahati airport on April 15, receiving a consignment of 50,000 PPE kits from China

Assam government has decided to send the freshly-imported Personal Protective Equipment (PPE kits), which were procured from China, for quality verification before they are pressed into service in the state.

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The decision comes after various people, including politicians and certain section of the media, questioned the government on the import of PPE kits from China at a time when they are being ‘rejected’ by various countries.

Addressing a press conference in Guwahati on April 18, Assam Health and Family Welfare Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the government took the decision because they don’t want to demoralize the doctors and medical staff working on the ground. “We have around 1.5 lakh PPE kits other than the 50,000 imported from Guangzhou, China recently. We will be using these kits first and will be sending samples from the newly imported lot for medical testing. We have asked the vendor to keep the kits at their warehouse in Guwahati. We will take them only if required and after certification. Meanwhile, the vendor may supply some of the kits to other Northeast states, if they wish to,” said Himanta Biswa Sarma.

He added that people should not create confusion during this crisis situation. “We should not make irrational comments. This is not a time for politics. We should not make statements that could demoralize the people who are working on the ground. Hence, we decided to take this decision to send the kits for medical test before they are issued to the hospitals,” he added.

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Assam on April 15 became one of the first states in India to directly import PPE kits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photographs of minister Himanta Biswa Sarma standing in front of a special Blue Dart cargo flight in Guwahati had gone viral with many lauding the government for its efforts while others questioning the logic behind import from China at a time when several countries across the world were rejecting the sub-standard supply.

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