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Iran Press TV

US method of sourcing protective gear baffling world amid coronavirus crisis

Iran Press TV

Saturday, 04 April 2020 10:30 AM

The Trump administration's method of sourcing protective equipment to tackle the coronovirus pandemic has baffled the world, with France and Germany leveling the harshest criticism at Washington.

The United States seized on Friday 200,000 masks set to be shipped to the European countries amid the coronavirus outbreak, with reports emerging that the masks – made by a Chinese producer for the US company 3M – were initially bound for Germany before being diverted in Thailand and sent to the United States instead.

Andreas Geisel, the German interior minister, denounced the diversion as "an act of modern piracy" and appealed to the government in Berlin to demand Washington's conformity to international trading rules.

Geisel blasted the seizure as one of those "wild west methods," and said US President Donald Trump was showing "a lack of solidarity" with other countries caught up in the coronavirus pandemic.

The US move comes as Trump has been desperately trying to secure masks and other personal protective equipment for Americans as the country's emergency stockpile depletes.

Valerie Pecresse, the influential president of the Ile-de-France region that includes Paris, described as a "treasure hunt" the race to obtain masks during the global fight against the pandemic.

"I found a stock of masks that was available and Americans – I'm not talking about the American government – but Americans, outbid us," Pecresse said.

"They offered three times the price and they proposed to pay upfront. I can't do that. I'm spending taxpayers' money and I can only pay on delivery having checked the quality," she added. "So we were caught out."

Pecresse said she had finally obtained a consignment of 1.5 million masks thanks to the help of Franco-Chinese residents in the Paris area.

With the French media calling the rush for medical equipment "mask wars," other French regional heads also said unidentified American buyers outbid on mask shipments.

"We really have to fight," Jean Rottner, a doctor and president of the Grand Est regional council, told RTL radio, as his area has been badly hit by the Covid-19 cases.

Moreover, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also asked officials to investigate similar instances that masks were being diverted from his country, calling such reports "concerning."

The coronavirus pandemic continues to cause mayhem in the US, with the overall death toll exceeding 7,000 and the confirmed cases standing at more than 277,000.

The Trump administration has come under fire from medical staff and Democrats for belittling the deadly virus.

In New York, the US state hardest hit by the coronavirus in the number of infections and lives lost, the fatalities rose above 2,900 – which is on a par with the death toll from the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Meanwhile, reports have emerged that Israel, a close US ally, has also been running clandestine operations to sneak the medical supplies ordered by countries fighting the coronavirus outbreak into Israel.

A senior official with Israel's Mossad revealed that Tel Aviv had ordered the spy agency to procure up to 130,000 objects related to fight the COVID-19 outbreak in Israel, ranging from protective gear to test kits, medicine, and ventilators.

"We are utilizing our special connections to win the race," the official said, adding that the spy agency was seeking to do so by trying to "lay our hands on stocks ordered by others."

The report did not disclose in which countries Mossad was running those operations.

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