The DRDO laboratory in Gwalior is testing N95 masks after receiving samples from bulk manufacturers via goods train drivers as the country prepares to mass-produce protective gear for medical staff on the frontlines of the COVID-19 outbreak.
As per government estimates, 2.4 crore N95 masks will be needed up to June amid rising infections and this vital transportation has come through a collaboration between Indian Railways and the Textiles Ministry. Not taking chances with quality, the defence lab has beesn pressed into service and it has so far received samples from manufacturers in Ludhiana, Delhi and Ambala.
“No one wants to take any chances with the quality. So we had been given standards, based on which we have made the prototype and now they have been sent for testing. We are awaiting results,” said Ashwani Garg of Pious Textiles in Ludhiana, which can produce around 3,000 masks per day.
Sample packs carrying a couple of masks are handed over to train drivers who pass them on to station functionaries in Gwalior who then provide them to DRDO officials.
Government officials said that stringent testing is also needed for body suits for which the government is working with a projected requirement of 1.5 crore pieces up to June and that there can be “no room for error in quality”.
“There has been feedback from medical professionals that body suit is vital even while treating non-corona patients to protect themselves against asymptomatic transmission. We are looking at huge numbers based on our projection,” said a senior government official working on the project.
The Textiles Ministry has sounded out all the major players and is pulling samples through strict testing protocol. The DRDO testing is in addition to its testing regime at the South India Textile Research Association in Coimbatore.
With a lockdown in place, sending samples to labs has been a challenge. “It was discussed that this is a vital transportation need, and taking the road was practically not possible. So the solution worked out was that since our goods trains now run as fast as mail/express trains, we could help send those packages through our drivers,” said a senior railway official.
Govt advises farmers to delay wheat harvest
New Delhi: Amid the lockdown due the outbreak of COVID-19, the government has advised farmers to delay wheat harvesting till April 20.
Issuing an advisory on Tuesday, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), which comes under the Agriculture Ministry, said, “The temperature in the most of wheat growing areas is still below long-term average and therefore likely to delay wheat harvesting… farmers can delay wheat harvesting till April 20 without incurring any significant loss…”
The advisory further said, “Amidst the threat of COVID-19 spread, the rabi crops are approaching maturity… farmers are to follow precautions and safety measures to be taken to prevent the disease spread.”
The advisory comes at a time when wheat harvesting has already started in several parts of the country. —ENS
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