Labour seeks answers on facemasks stockpile to avoid mistakes of PPE

Labour seeks answers on facemasks stockpile to avoid mistakes of PPE

Labour is calling for the Government to say how it plans to stockpile facemasks in readiness for any change in scientific advice, to avoid the mistakes made over personal protective equipment for key workers.

With an increasing number of countries now advising some form of facemasks are worn in public, and the Japanese government sending free masks to 50 million households, Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Rachel Reeves says the Government needs to demonstrate it is ahead of the game after being too slow on the lockdown, too slow to get PPE to the frontline, and too slow on testing and tracing the coronavirus.

She is asking Ministers to outline how they will work with British businesses, trade unions and international supply networks to ensure that the UK has sufficient quantities of masks and a way of distributing them to those who need them, and offering to work with the Government on such a strategy.

Reeves is asking the Government to confirm how many facemasks it estimates would be required if they became mandatory in public, and what type they would be; whether it believes that the British textiles industry has the capacity to produce masks on a large scale; where its stockpile would be sourced from, and where additional masks would be produced; and what preparations have already been made to ensure an effective and fair distribution of them.

Rachel Reeves said:

“The Government was too slow to enter the lockdown, too slow to get vital protective equipment to NHS, social care and other key workers, and too slow on testing and tracing to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“We need to know what the plans are to stockpile facemasks in readiness for any change in the scientific advice. This is an opportunity for Ministers to get ahead of the game and demonstrate they have learned from their mistakes, and we stand ready to help them to achieve that.

“Labour is supporting the Government through this crisis when it is getting things right, and challenging it when things are going wrong. This is in all our interests to protect public health.”

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