The fiasco over Turkey’s shipment of medical gowns to Britain has sunk further into confusion with a series of clarifications and claims that contradicted earlier reports.
It was widely reported on Thursday that all 400,000 protective gowns sent by Turkey last month to be used by Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak had been impounded for failing to meet British safety standards. The British government said on Thursday that it was in negotiations to obtain replacements or a refund.
But this information has been rebutted, and details of the procurement process and the Turkish supplier are likely to cause embarrassment and consternation in Britain and Turkey alike.
A clarification by Britain’s Department of Health on Thursday evening said that 2,400 gowns from an initial batch of 67,000 that had arrived in Britain last month had failed safety tests. Officials impounded most of the rest of that batch so they could be properly tested.
It was also revealed that only 4,500 gowns were passed as fit for use by the NHS – around 1 percent of the order – while another 170,000 gowns were still being held in Turkey so they could be tested there. The rest have yet to be delivered, the Guardian said.
“While a small number of these gowns have failed tests in the UK, more have passed tests making them suitable for use in the NHS. The majority of items ordered from the private supplier are awaiting testing in the UK and Turkish warehouses,” the Guardian quoted a British government spokesman as saying.
The British ambassador to Turkey, Dominick Chilcott, acknowledged on Twitter on Thursday that the reports about the impounding of 400,000 gowns were not true, and said that the British government was grateful to Turkey for providing much needed personal protective equipment.