Supriya Sharma

Supriya Sharma

22-03-2020

05:53

Every time I – and other journalists – post questions to the government about India's preparations to fight #COVID19, both trolls and well-meaning folk pipe up to say 'don't spread panic'. I'd say let's panic more – and ask more questions. Let me explain. #Thread

Last week we heard of shortages in the supply of safety gear for health workers in India. Yes, these scary-looking hazmat suits that medical workers need to save lives – of others and their own. My colleague @Aarefa Johari began to investigate this. (Picture credit: Reuters)

Rema reported how firms that make safety gear were repeatedly asking – begging – the government to set standards so that they could begin production of Covid-19 protection suits. See her Twitter thread here.

What happened after Rema's story came out is stunning. As @AarefaJohari meticulously reports, some firms got orders on emails, a mysterious tender document surfaced. Someone in the government panicked. Finally.

“It is clear now what their malintentions were – they only wanted the tender to be circulated among a few manufacturers,” the owner of one firm alleged. Pause and let that sink in.

Now 14 firms have orders to deliver safety gear. But they're confused: should they respond to the mails or submit bids for the tender? “If HLL has already placed orders, then why is there a tender? And if there has been a tender all this while, why have orders been placed?”

Great that the government responded to media whistle-blowing. But do you know how much time it would take for each of these firms to deliver? Read the story to find out.

Panic more. Ask more questions. END



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