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India now second-largest producer of PPE kits: Textile ministry

PPE kits are the first line of defence for health workers against infectious diseases like Covid-19

India has become the world’s second-largest personal protection equipment (PPE) manufacturer with the industry worth Rs7,000 crore of 1,100 manufacturers producing 450,000 units daily, the Union textile ministry said on Wednesday.

PPE kits are the first line of defence for health workers against infectious diseases like Covid-19. Their production was ramped up in March amid growing demand for them as the Covid-19 pandemic worsened.

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The export of the kits and other protective equipment was banned in March, so that enough supplies could be procured by the central government, which were subsequently supplied to the states free of cost.

India was producing was producing 10 million PPEs per month, on the specs that were demanded by the Central government to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The Central government had placed an order for 22 million PPEs in March to meet the demand for health workers. The government had also faced severe criticism for not being able to provide enough coveralls for essential workers.

In June, the ministry allowed the export of 500,000 PPE kits monthly. In July, India exported 2,300,000 PPE kits to five countries.

The government allowed the PPE exports amid demands from the industry as it started producing surplus kits.

The PPE production came as a boost for the industry as it faced nearly 84% fall in apparel sales and an acute shortage of labour due to the pandemic in the first quarter.

“As per CMAI [Clothing Manufacturers Association of India] research conducted with the help of AC Nielson, the total Indian market for apparel was worth Rs6.5 lakh crore in 2019,” Rahul Mehta, the chief mentor at CMAI had earlier told Hindustan Times. “We estimate it will go down by 15% in 2020 to around Rs5.85 lakh crore. However, in the quarter of April to June, most brands and retailers would not achieve more than 15-20% of their 2019 first quarter sales.”

Deeksha Bhardwaj  / Hindustan Times, New Delhi

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