Starting from April 2nd, the United States began pirating medical supplies intended for other countries.
And not just any countries, but it’s allies.
It began with France.
Coronavirus masks that France ordered from China were bought at the last minute by the United States as they waited to be loaded onto cargo planes.
“Americans pay three or four times the amount we pay, and in cash,” said Jean Rottner, head of France’s eastern region, one of the areas worst affected by the coronavirus outbreak, according to reports by France Info.
On April 2nd, a planeload of Chinese-made face masks were bought up right on the tarmac just as the much needed protective gear was about to set off for France.
“We’re working around the clock to ensure these masks arrive,” says Rottner, blaming unfair competition for delays.
The US, which currently has more than a quarter million cases is disruption deliveries to other nations in order to bulk its stocks.
The east of France nonetheless received 2 million masks from China on the previous day.
“I was very happy to see that airplane arriving in our region last night,” Rottner said.
France has ordered more than one billion face masks, a quarter from China, as it battles the pandemic and currently has less than three weeks worth of supplies.
The US isn’t concerned by that, however.
The head of the south-eastern Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region Renaud Muselier told RT France that he ordered around 60 million masks but has also experienced delivery problems.
“The icing on the cake, there is a foreign country that paid three times the price of the cargo on the tarmac,” Rénaud Muselier said.
To ensure the delivery of 4 million masks by this April 4th Muselier has opted for a different route, passing by the sea instead.
“At least that way, I can be sure that no one will steal my masks from the tarmac,” he said.
Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau described such reports as “concerning and asked officials to look into similar claims that masks were being diverted away from his country.
“We need to make sure that equipment that is destined for Canada gets to and stays in Canada, and I’ve asked ministers to follow up on these particular reports,” he said.
At a press conference in Brazil on April 1st, the health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, said recent attempts by Brasília to purchase protection gear such as gloves and masks from China had fallen through.
“Today the US sent 23 of their biggest cargo planes to China to pick up the material they had acquired. Many of our purchases, which we had hoped to confirm in order to supply [our health system], fell through,” he said. “The whole world wants [these things] too. There is a problem of hyper-demand.”
On April 3rd, the State of Berlin said it had ordered masks from China – types FFP2 and FFP3.
They were designed to protect medical personnel from being infected with the coronavirus.
However, the shipment was intercepted by the United States and redirected.
The goods are said to have been intercepted by the Americans on the way from the manufacturer to Germany and brought to the USA.
The Berlin authorities assure that the current stock of protective equipment is still sufficient. But the fire brigade had to get expired masks from the warehouses.
The issue of masks and disinfectants is strictly limited.
Some medical supplies that were purchased from Turkey are also not arriving. But not because the US hijacked them, rather because Ankara banned all such exports.
Reports by the Belgian newspaper Le Soir and the Italian daily Corriere della Sera said Turkish-made masks destined for those countries had never arrived.
In Italy, it took more than two weeks following a phone call from the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, to the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, for the masks to be released.
Earlier, a shipment from China to Italy was seized by the Czech Republic. The authorities denied that they had stolen the masks.
They said the masks had made their way to a warehouse north of Prague, where they were confiscated in an anti-trafficking operation. The foreign minister, Tomáš Petříček, later said his government had sent 110,000 masks to Rome as compensation.
A similar incident occurred in Kenya, where a shipment of up to 6m masks bound for Germany mysteriously disappeared while passing through the east African country, although there has been no suggestion that the government was responsible.
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