Coronavirus: RAF Sent To Turkey For Delayed PPE Delivery

Around 400,000 gowns were meant to arrive in the UK on Sunday for frontline NHS staff battling the coronavirus pandemic.

A Royal Air Force aircraft has landed in Istanbul to collect a delayed delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE) for NHS workers.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) said an A400M Atlas left RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on Monday evening to collect some of the 84-tonne cargo, which includes 400,000 surgical gowns.

A further two RAF aircraft are on standby to pick up more supplies from Turkey if needed, the MOD said. 

Downing Street says the RAF is positioned in Turkey to return cargo to the UK as soon as it is ready, although there has been no update on when that will be and no reason given for the delay.

A Number 10 spokesperson said that claims an order for PPE from Turkey was not made until Sunday evening are not true, stating: "This is a commercial order from a Turkish company that was made last Thursday."

Asked about the PPE from Turkey, Local Government Minister Simon Clarke told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: "It will be with us obviously in the UK in the next few days, which is the core priority."

PPE equipment from Turkey arrives at RAF Brize Norton for Coronavirus 100420 CREDIT MOD.jpg
PPE kit arrives at RAF Brize Norton from Turkey nearly two weeks ago (Picture: MOD).

Turkey has denied reports that the delay was due to export licence complications.

Earlier this month, 250,000 pieces of PPE were flown into RAF Brize Norton from Turkey. 

The Government has faced widespread criticism for the amount of PPE available to healthcare staff in the UK, with the NHS getting through 150,000 gowns each day.

Cover image: Library image of an RAF A400M Atlas (Picture: MOD).