Stockpile of masks and PPE to help Norfolk combat coronavirus this winter
PUBLISHED: 13:21 15 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:21 15 July 2020
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A stockpile of personal protective equipment to help Norfolk combat coronavirus this winter has been built up - but council bosses say they need to consider if a longer term supply is needed next year.
Officers at Norfolk County Council say they have masks and other equipment for use by its staff and by education, health and care providers.
But they say there will need to be a review as to whether the council will need to retain a longer term stockpile of such equipment.
A report into personal protective equipment (PPE) will be part of next week’s meeting of the council’s scrutiny committee.
It states in the early stages of the pandemic masks, eye protection and hand sanitiser were in short supply and masks became “extremely expensive.”
As previously reported, the council joined forces with Essex County Council to get masks over from China, with one million delivered on April 10.
Officers said: “The council developed relationships with a number of UK-based importers to provide parallel sources of masks.
“As a result, substantial quantities of masks were received from around April 20 and these, combined with the import of two million masks directly from China and with sporadic supplies from the government, has enabled masks to be provided to both the council and Norfolk Resilience Forum since that date.”
Council officers added: “The council will maintain a stockpile of PPE that it can make available in the autumn/winter if necessary, and will take a view in the New Year as to whether a longer-term stockpile is required.”
The scrutiny committee will examine how vulnerable people and care homes were supported when it meets virtually on Wednesday, July 22.
Labour group leader Steve Morphew, who chairs the committee, said it was “probably the most important and most sensitive part” of scrutinising the COVID-19 response in Norfolk.
He said: “Most families were affected directly or indirectly, with care homes and carers facing huge challenges they had never experienced before. We owe it to them to have a thorough look at what went right, what went wrong and how lessons can lead to changes for the future.”
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