COVID-19 Outbreak: 200 Refurbished Ventilators to be utilized by Tamil Nadu

The Chennai State government has taken possession of 200 refurbished ventilators there was lying idle in the Alandur custom warehouse since November 2018. The Tamil Nadu Medical Service Corporation was given permission by the Union ministry of Commerce to use these machines in government hospital amid the COVID-19 outbreak after ensuring that the Indian safety standards are met by the machines.

Skylark Office Machines in Thousand lights had imported these ventilators from a US firm in 2018. But the custom authorities had seized the consignment and imposed a penalty on the company saying that the machines were second hand and come under the hazardous category of Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules.

When the company approached the excise, customs and service tax appellate tribunal for relief, but the tribunal ruled against the company and said the machines to be re-exported to the US. Skylark hit the roadblock – the Centre had banned the exports of ventilators from 24th March amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The importer stated that they had very little time to re-send the machine to the US after the ruling was delivered.

The state medical corporation which procures and maintains medicinal drugs and equipment on 31 March urged the Director-General of Foreign Trade to seek the clearance of the consignment as a special case to enable them to use the ventilators at the government medical institution in Tamil Nadu, along with an appeal from the company.

In an appeal the company sought relaxation of the policy for goods that has already been imported as a special case so that the company supply equipment to government hospital.

Experts have also communicated that refurbished ventilators can also be used as long as they are restored to their original condition and effectiveness by the original equipment manufacturer and are certified by the refurbishing companies.

The state has a ventilator more than 2500 across the medical college and district hospitals and has also ordered an equal number of them from Europe, China, and Israel.

The medical corporation has assured that they will be providing continued availability of technical support and maintenance service for all the machines. The importer has also assured that they will offer a one-year warranty and agreed five-year annual maintenance.