100,000 substandard respirators acquired through PPE procurement

Personal protective equipment (PPE) arriving at Tallinn Airport from China in spring.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) arriving at Tallinn Airport from China in spring. Source: Health Board

100,000 substandard respirators were acquired from China at the peak of the coronavirus emergency situation in spring.

Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Isamaa) said a total of 11 personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement rounds were made during spring, after the emergency situation was in mid-March.

One procurement is still considered unfulfilled, however, as discussions with procurement partners are still ongoing, due to sub-par equipment received, Aab wrote in response to opposition politician Signe Riisalo's (Reform) inquiry.

The minister wrote: "All equipment in the contract concluded with Jiangxi Shunkang Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd has arrived in Estonia. At the same time, 100,000 FFP3 respirators do not meet our requirements. By our assessment, we are dealing with lower-grade PPE. We have not paid our partner for this."

Aab noted that there are, however, more PPE procurements in the plans for the near future, though this would require certain preconditions.

Aab said: "This will only go into force when there are more obstacles in the market, a shortage of PPE, supply chains breaking down or not functioning in the manner of a regular market economy."

Signe Riisalo also inquired how many of the masks sent to Estonia in spring were actually workmen's dust masks, offering no protection from the coronavirus.

Aab penned in response: "No so-called dust masks were acquired through the finance ministry's procurements. All the masks underwent Health Board (Terviseamet) testing prior to use, during which time we made sure they would meet the requirements. This means no useless masks were bought and no financial damage was incurred."

Aab added that the state has recommended all institutions to stock up a month's supply of PPE, which would triple the amount used in spring.

For example, it transpires that a total of 10.5 million surgical masks would be necessary; currently the state holds 7.8 million. A total of 2.4 million FFP2 masks are required, but the state has 1.5 million. More than 360,000 FFP3 masks are estimated necessary for dealing with a second wave of COVID-19, but the state has none of these in stock at all.

The only thing the state has a glut of in fact is in protective suits, which number 116,000 in state stocks compared with the estimated 73,650 needed.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste, Andrew Whyte

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