The UK government faced further criticisms over its ability to protect frontline medical staff after a shipment of medical equipment from Turkey was delayed.
Cabinet Minister Robert Jenrick on Saturday announced a “very significant additional shipment” of 84 tonnes of gowns and other protection equipment to arrive over the weekend but still has not arrived.
The government has come under sustained criticism for poor planning to confront Covid-19. The announcement at the weekend was designed to head off complaints that too little was being done to protect frontline staff.
At least 100 health and care workers have died, according to a nursing website, although the government has confirmed 27. The shipment from Turkey was due to include 400,000 gowns, which are running out in some hospitals, say officials.
Minister Simon Clarke told the BBC: “It will be with us in the UK in the next few days.”
Officials on Friday changed guidance to medical staff in the face of the shortages, which included the reuse of some of gowns.
Unions representing health workers said some may choose not to work because of the shortages. “If gowns run out, staff in high risk areas may well decide that it’s no longer safe for them to work,” said Unison head of health Sara Gorton.