A HUGE military airlift that was set to deliver vital personal protective equipment for hero health workers today has been delayed.
RAF jets were supposed to be flying in 400,000 gowns – part of 84 tonnes of PPE – from an airbase in Turkey.
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The source of the delay is not yet known, but it is understood the RAF were ready to transport the equipment, Sky News reported.
The delay comes as medics were told to treat coronavirus patients in flimsy plastic aprons over gowns.
Around 150,000 gowns a day needed for NHS staff.
Public Health England changed its advice on Friday to allow reuse of gowns that is normally single-use only or even wear white lab coats and wash them afterwards.
A source with knowledge of the plan said: "The new guidance will say 'this is what you do if you don't have any gowns'. Wear an apron instead – that will be the new policy for the foreseeable future, though the medical organisations will go mad about that."
At least 60 NHS and healthcare workers have so far died from coronavirus, with many families blaming a lack of PPE.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told yesterday's briefing: "They should be assured we are doing everything we can correct this issue, and to get them the equipment that they need."
When pressed on the issue, Mr Jenrick added: "Supply in some areas, particularly gowns and certain types of masks and aprons, is in short supply at the moment, and that must be an extremely anxious time for people working on the front line, but they should be assured that we are doing everything we can to correct this issue, and to get them the equipment that they need."
A "sustainable" level of gowns will not be reached until mid-June.
A military liaison officer wrote to hospitals and other NHS trusts saying: "I can confirm that regions were informed that there will be no deliveries of gowns until 27 Apr and a sustainable level will not be reached until after mid-June."
He added: "My assessment is that most trusts will be out of stock after the weekend on current consumption."
Panicked ministers have drafted in the boss of the 2012 London Olympics to be a PPE czar.
Lord Paul Deighton will take charge of scaling up production and co-ordinating distribution.
Top-end firms including Burberry, Barbour, Louis Vuitton and Philip Treacy have all said their manufacturing equipment could be used in the effort.
Shadow health minister Justin Madders said the amount of key workers still without protective equipment was a "scandal".
"Workers have been sounding the alarm for weeks now and the Government has had months to put things in place," he said.
"It is outrageous that supplies keep running so low, protecting those staff who are risking their lives every time they go to work should be an absolute priority.
"Ministers need to make good on their promises, sort out the supply issues and work to make sure no staff member feels unsafe because of a lack of PPE. It is no good making grand promises if they later turn out to be undeliverable."