A chartered flight carrying around half a million vital fluid-resistant gowns for NHS Wales has arrived in Cardiff Airport (14.00 today, 1 May 2020).
The flight was arranged through Welsh contacts and will mean supplies of these gowns, which had been under pressure, have been fully replenished.
The cargo, which has come from Hangzhou in China, will provide around three months’ of supply of fluid-resistant gowns for health and care services in Wales and will allow Wales to support other parts of the UK if needed.
In total, more than 660,000 gowns have been flown into Cardiff Airport this week – a flight carrying 200,000 fluid-resistant gowns arrived from Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Tuesday [28th April].
First Minister Mark Drakeford said:“Since the start of the pandemic, we have been working very hard to make sure we continue to have the right supply of PPE for Wales.
“Coronavirus has put supplies under pressure around the world. Today’s flight is the result of a lot of hard work behind the scenes to secure new supplies of gowns for our frontline workers. Supplies of these gowns have been under particular pressure but these deliveries mean we have established a secure stock for the coming weeks and months.
“I would like to thank Cardiff Airport, the military and the police for their support with this shipment of PPE, which will help to protect our frontline health and care staff.”
The Welsh Government has been working with NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership and the National Procurement Service to secure new international supplies of PPE as well as developing new Welsh supply chains, building on the overwhelming response from Welsh businesses and industry.
On Saturday, a shipment of 10 million masks arrived from China. These will be used in the Welsh NHS and in social care settings and the Welsh Government has also provided mutual aid to Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Deb Bowen Rees, Chief Executive Officer, at Cardiff Airport said:
“We are extremely proud to be supporting the national effort during these extraordinary times. Our airfield has remained open, as it is vital – as part of Wales’ strategic transport infrastructure – that we are always in a position to support essential flying, in this case enabling supplies to get to frontline teams as quickly as possible.
“We remain ready to support any other flying, which Wales and the UK needs over the coming weeks and months and look forward to the return of commercial flights and our customers as soon as this lockdown period is over.”
Military support to unload the PPE has been provided by reservists from 3 Royal Welsh, headquartered at Maindy Barracks.
The commander of the military support to Wales during the coronavirus pandemic, Brigadier Andrew Dawes CBE said:
“The military in Wales is extremely proud to support the Welsh Government and NHS Wales at this critical time as we all pull together.
“The soldiers involved in this task are almost all Welsh reservists who have volunteered to support their communities and the NHS in providing support at Cardiff Airport this week.”
Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport said: “This welcome delivery will ensure crucial supplies of fluid resistant gowns have stabilised in Wales. We have been working very hard in Wales to ensure we have sufficient PPE in Wales, using all available avenues open to us – but we are particularly keen to develop made-in-Wales supplies to protect ourselves against any further delays and complications.
“We have had a huge response to our call for Welsh manufacturers, both big and small, to produce much needed PPE, including face shields, visors and scrubs and we are incredibly grateful for this. Not only is this Welsh effort providing more resilience within our supply chains it is also providing a much welcome social and economic boost to communities across Wales at this challenging time. We are actively looking at what more can be made locally.”