Covid-19: Ministry of Health reveals increased stock of PPE, more ventilators available

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The Ministry of Health says it has more than nine months worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) in stock at current usage rates, or over a month’s worth at “high pandemic” use rates.

Portrait of asian woman drive thru coronavirus covid-19 test by medical staff with PPE suit by nose swab. New normal healthcare drive thru service and medical concept.

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It has been stocking up on PPE over the past six months in preparation for any future outbreaks of Covid-19.

In a statement, the ministry said it now had more than 600 million items of PPE in stock, including 1.4 million N95 masks, more than 275 million procedure masks, more than 190 million nitrile gloves, more than 1 million face shields, more than 14 million isolation gowns and more than 10 million aprons.

It had orders in place for a further 300 million items of PPE.

At current usage rates, it said that stock would last in excess of nine months.

But if a major outbreak struck New Zealand at levels seen in the likes of the United States and the United Kingdom, the stock would last little more than a month.

The ministry said it had monthly orders in for the P2/N95 masks, and was confident in its supplies.

ICU spaces have also been scaled up by the Ministry, with more ventilators available than there were earlier in 2020.

On 24 August, there were 482 ICU-capable ventilators in hospitals around the country.

That number increased by 210 over the next three months, with 692 ICU-capable ventilators available by 4 December.

The ministry said 557 of those ventilators were being held by DHBs, while the rest were being held in reserve.

If needed, the ministry would send the spare ventilators out to the DHBs that need them.

The ministry also said if demand for those ventilators was exhausted, it could repurpose anaesthetic machines to meet the demand.

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