Protective equipment flown into Scotland from China is stuck at Prestwick Airport through a labelling issue that the Scottish Government knew of in advance, Scotland’s health secretary has confirmed.
Around 11 million face masks and 100,000 testing kits arrived at the airport in Ayrshire on Friday morning.
Jeane Freeman said the Scottish Government decided it would be better to have the cargo stuck in the airport in Scotland than in China.
She said work is under way to resolve the labelling problem which is expected to happen this week, adding the PPE “is not needed immediately on the front line”.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Sunday, she said: “What we knew is that it was possible that the fact the shipment didn’t have a label on the boxes but had a note inside the boxes, may not be sufficient to clear them out of the airport and get them to where they need them to be.
“But we took the view that it was better to have that aircraft with that important cargo sitting on a runway in an airport in Scotland than sitting on the runway in China.”
She added: “Work is under way to resolve the issue around labelling, we expect that to be completed this week and at that point the cargo will then be distributed.
“For NHS Scotland it is not immediately needed at the front line, but it will add importantly to our stockpile.”
She said drivers were sent to the airport on Friday as “we thought it was better to have them there” on the basis the note inside the boxes would be sufficient to have the supplies released.
She said: “That didn’t turn out to be the case but that was a sensible bit of forward planning so that we do everything that we said we would do, which is maximise our sourcing of PPE and get as quickly to where it needs to be as we can possibly manage.”