LONDON (Reuters) – British healthcare staff have been advised to treat COVID-19 patients without full-length protective gowns due to shortages of equipment, the Guardian newspaper reported on Friday.

Health minister Matt Hancock told a committee of lawmakers earlier that Britain was “tight on gowns” but had 55,000 more arriving on Friday and was aiming to get the right equipment where it was needed by the end of this weekend.

The Guardian reported that with hospitals across England set to run out of supplies within hours, Public Health England had changed guidelines which stipulated full-length, waterproof surgical gowns should be worn for high-risk hospital procedures.

The new advice says that when gowns run out alternative options include using a plastic apron, borrowing supplies from other hospitals, or wearing coveralls, the Guardian reported.

Sky News reported doctors and nurses had also been advised that single-use gowns could be used again because of the shortage.

The Department for Health and Social Care did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the change of advice.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by William James)