The masks, which were bought as part of a 252 million-pound ($332 million) contract, use ear loop fastenings instead of head loop fastenings. The government found that they did not fit tightly enough, according to legal documents seen by the BBC.
The Department of Health and Social Care said it was unable to comment on the specifics of the case because of continuing legal proceedings but said there was a “robust” process in place to ensure that all orders of personal protective equipment are of high quality and meet strict safety standards.
Ayanda Capital, the supplier of the masks, was not immediately available for comment but told the BBC that the equipment met all the specifications that the government had set out.
In the early stages of the pandemic, the government came under fierce criticism over shortages of personal protective equipment, particularly respirator masks that protect health workers from inhaling harmful materials.
“Throughout this global pandemic, we have been working tirelessly to deliver PPE to protect people on the front line,” a government spokesman said, adding, “Over 2.4 billion items have been delivered, and more than 30 billion have been ordered from U.K.-based manufacturers and international partners to provide a continuous supply, which meets the needs of health and social care staff both now and in the future.”
In other news from around the world:
Italy threatened to suspend Ryanair flights, saying the low-cost Irish carrier has repeatedly violated safety measures imposed by the government to contain the coronavirus. In an email, the company called the accusations by the Italian authority “factually incorrect,” and said it fully complied with the measures set out by the Italian government.
In Britain, more than nine million people have been furloughed, or 29 percent of the country’s work force, and 2.8 million have filed unemployment claims since the pandemic began. Some fields, such as hospitality and live entertainment, seem especially uncertain, leaving some people in a quandary: Wait for business and employment to pick up, or leave behind a job and career and try something new?
France and Germany have each recorded a higher number of daily new coronavirus cases this week than either country has seen in months. France reported 1,695 new cases on Wednesday, and Germany on Thursday reported more than 1,000. In France, the 1,242 daily average of cases since the beginning of August has almost reached the level of infections in the first week of May, when the country was still under lockdown.
A Canadian pastor who contracted the virus in Myanmar after preaching that Christians were immune to it was sentenced to three months of prison with hard labor on Thursday for violating the country’s strict rule against large gatherings. The Myanmar-born preacher, David Lah, was found guilty of attending a 27-day Christian gathering in Yangon, the country’s largest city, that began in March and is blamed for spreading the virus to around 70 people.
Test results for North Korea’s first suspected case were “inconclusive,” a World Health Organization official said Thursday. The case has triggered quarantine orders for more than 3,600 people.
Reporting was contributed by Geneva Abdul, Emily Bobrow, Luke Broadwater, Emma Bubola, Julia Calderone, Benedict Carey, Niraj Chokshi, Emily Cochrane, Patricia Cohen, Melissa Eddy, Thomas Erdbrink, Jacey Fortin, Sheera Frenkel, Maggie Haberman, Cecilia Kang, Annie Karni, David Leonhardt, Patrick J. Lyons, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Constant Méheut, Sarah Mervosh, Saw Nang, Richard C. Paddock, Eileen Sullivan, Jim Tankersley, Pranshu Verma, Neil Vigdor, Katherine J. Wu, Ceylan Yeginsu, Elaine Yu and Karen Zraick.