As medical workers in Britain worry about a shortage of personal protective gear, officials announced that a shipment of 84 tons of equipment — including 400,000 protective gowns, was on its way from Turkey. But on Sunday, the government said that the flight was delayed.
The source of the delay was not immediately clear, but the Royal Air Force was “on standby” to transport the equipment, a government spokesman said in an email. “We are continuing to work to ensure the shipment is delivered as soon as possible.” The British broadcaster Sky News initially reported the delay.
Before the government confirmed the delay, Dr. Helena McKeown, chairwoman of the British Medical Association, told Sky News that the reported delay was “disastrous” and “devastating.” Asked if she would advise medical workers to refuse to work without protective equipment, she replied, “I would simply ask the government: What should my colleagues do?”
On Saturday, Robert Jenrick, the British housing minister, acknowledged the shortages during the daily government briefing, saying he recognized that it “must be an extremely anxious time for people working on the front line.”
Health care workers were advised to wear plastic aprons on top of their coveralls.
At least 15,464 people have died of the coronavirus in Britain, according to government figures published on Saturday.
In a Sunday Times of London report, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was said to have “sleepwalked” into a disastrous initial response to the coronavirus outbreak by missing five meetings of a government crisis committee. But Michael Gove, a member of Mr. Johnson’s leadership team, rejected the idea as “grotesque.”
The prime minister made all the major decisions, Mr. Gove told Sophy Ridge of Sky News on Sunday. “Nobody can say that the prime minister wasn’t throwing heart and soul into fighting this virus,” he said, adding that Mr. Johnson had been nothing other than “energetic, determined, focused and strong in his leadership.”