A large number of medical gowns are being sent from Egypt to the UK despite the fact that the north African country is suffering severe shortages itself.
NHS workers in the UK have spoken out about the lack of protective equipment available to them, which is affecting their ability to safely treat patients with COVID-19.
There has been growing pressure on the government to apologise for the lack of PPE for frontline staff, which authorities have so far refused to do.
The Guardian has reported how the UK missed three opportunities to be part of an EU scheme to bulk-buy masks, gowns and gloves.
Details of the shipment from Egypt is likely to raise criticism since doctors in the north African state have themselves raised serious concerns about the lack of masks, disinfectant and protective clothing available to them in hospitals.
Egyptian medics have asked that missions be sent to hospitals to ensure that adequate preventative equipment is in place. Those who have criticised the lack of PPE online have been detained and silenced, whilst the health care system in Egypt is thought to be on the verge of collapse after years of underfunding.
Several hospitals across the country have closed as the number of infections rises. The cost of masks in Egypt has shot up to around $10 and many doctors have been forced to buy them out of their own salaries.
One third of Egyptians live below the poverty line, statistics which look set to get worse as the country grapples to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
There was an outcry at the beginning of this month after Egypt announced it was sending medical aid to Italy for the second time over the course of several weeks, due to lack of equipment at home.
Critics pointed out that the aid delivery was likely to be tied to Egypt’s wish to continue lucrative trade and arms deals with Italy.
In 2018 trade between Egypt and Italy hit $7.2 billion and Egypt purchased $77 million worth of arms from the European country.
Many believe that Italy is using political pressure to secure more favourable arms deals and that Egypt is buying large amounts of arms to try and offset its human rights record following the torture and murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni in Cairo.
In 2016 the UK invested $30 billion in Egypt making it the country’s highest foreign investor. BP is one of the largest foreign investors in the north African country.
Rights groups have consistently called on the British government to condition foreign investment on human rights, however they have ignored these calls and continue to secure and push for favourable deals with Egypt.