‘When clowns purchase gowns’
A highly-publicized shipment of urgently-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers fighting COVID-19 has backfired spectacularly for Downing Street after the items were deemed unfit for use.
British ministers used the arrival of 400,000 protective gowns flown in from Turkey last month as evidence of the government’s pro-active approach to overcoming the health crisis. Some two weeks later, the British public has learned that the PPE shipment has been impounded after being deemed unsuitable by UK standards. Unsurprisingly, people are fuming.
Speaking to Sky News about the scandal, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham – a member of the Labour opposition – offered an almost charitable analysis of the gaffe.
“It doesn’t look good does it? It was a decision driven by desperation,” the mayor noted, adding that the Tory government has handled the PPE situation in the country “poorly.”
A more scathing comment tried to imagine the telephone conversation that took place among ministers after they learned that the medical garments had no practical use.
Many of the furious reactions to the story took a blunt, direct tone.
“When clowns purchase gowns,” observed one unimpressed Twitter user.
The government has tried to argue that there is a silver lining to the embarrassing blunder. Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told the BBC that it was “reassuring” that British experts were “ensuring the best quality of equipment.”
The good news is that British taxpayers (might) get their money back. According to media reports, the Department for Health and Social Care is planning to ship the PPE back to Turkey and will seek a full refund.