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UK promises uninterrupted supply of COVID protective equipment to health workers

FILE PHOTO: A member of medical staff takes a swab from a person in a car at an NHS coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing facility, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Wolverhampton, Britain, April 7, 2020. REUTERS/Carl Recine/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government said it would have large stockpiles in place to provide a continuous flow of protective items, such as masks, to health workers tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, after criticism earlier in the year that supplies were too low.

In April, at the height of the first wave of infections in Britain, unions said doctors and nurses treating patients with COVID-19 were putting their lives at risk because of a lack of kit for frontline staff.

“At the start of the pandemic, meeting the huge demands for PPE (personal protective equipment) was a massive challenge,” health minister Matt Hancock said in a news release.

“That’s why we have worked every day since to ensure we have an uninterrupted supply to meet the challenges in the coming months and protect those who are protecting us.”

Four-month stockpiles of kit, including visors and gowns will be ready from November, the health ministry said.

Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Barbara Lewis