US firm denies German ‘piracy’ claims over vanished face masks

The US conglomerate 3M on Saturday denied German claims that a shipment of 200,000 medical face masks ordered by the city of Berlin amid the coronavirus pandemic wasconfiscated in the Thai capital, Bangkok, by US officials.

Read more: Coronavirus: Grassroots project adapts snorkeling masks for use against COVID-19

The company told Germany’s DPA news agency that it had neither any reports of masks being seized nor any paperwork on such a shipment being destined for Berlin.

The denial comes after Berlin’s regional interior minister, Andreas Geisel, on Friday accused the US of “modern piracy” for having confiscated the FFP-2 respirators, intended for used by police officers in the capital. He said the masks, which were reportedly manufactured in China, were paid for.

Multiple allegations

In past days, French politicians have also accused unidentified US purchasers of buying up face masks ordered by France, with the leader of the coronavirus-stricken Grand Est region saying a planeload of the masks was bought on the tarmac in Shanghai just before the aircraft took off to deliver them.

US officials have denied these accusations as well.

  • A family wears masks while walking in the street on January 22, 2020 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. (Getty Images/Stringer)

    How to protect yourself against the coronavirus

    Better than nothing

    It has not been proven that the face masks seen above can effectively protect you against viral infections. That said, these masks are probably able to catch some germs before they reach your mouth or nose. More importantly, they prevent people from touching their mouth or nose (which most people do instinctually). If you are already sick, such masks may keep you from infecting others.

  • A hospital worker using alcohol based hand disinfectant (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Pilick)

    How to protect yourself against the coronavirus

    Disinfect your hands

    One of the best ways to protect yourself from the virus is to frequently clean your hands, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of recommendations. The WHO recommends alcohol-based hand rub, like the ones seen here in a hospital.

  • Hände waschen (picture alliance/dpa/C. Klose)

    How to protect yourself against the coronavirus

    Soap and water will do as well

    The simpler day-to-day solution is to use water and soap, if you’ve got some handy. But make sure to wash your hands thoroughly. Health authorities in the US recommend washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, making sure to pay attention to areas like your fingertips, thumbs and underneath your nails.

  • Husten Niesen Arm Keime (Fotolia/Brenda Carson)

    How to protect yourself against the coronavirus

    Coughing and sneezing – but doing it right!

    So here’s what the doctors recommend: When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with your flexed elbow. Or use tissue — but then immediately throw that tissue away and wash your hands. With your shirt or sweater, however, no, you don’t need to throw them away. Do wash them frequently, though, or take them to the dry cleaner’s.

  • Symbolbild Husten (picture alliance/empics)

    How to protect yourself against the coronavirus

    Stay away!

    Another recommendation that may not work for everybody: Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough! If you have to tend to sick people, make doubly sure to take additional protective measures.

  • Kazakh sanitary-epidemiological service worker uses a thermal scanner to detect travellers from China who may have symptoms possibly connected with the previously unknown coronavirus, at Almaty International Airport, Kazakhstan January 21, 2020. REUTERS/Pavel Mikheyev

    How to protect yourself against the coronavirus

    Got a fever? Go to the doctor, not on a trip!

    If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. Avoid public places so you don’t infect others. And also, explain to your doctor where you’ve previously traveled and who you may have come in contact with.

  • Hühnchen Markt in Kabul (DW)

    How to protect yourself against the coronavirus

    Avoid contact!

    When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of the novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals. That includes any surfaces that are in contact with animals as well.

  • A meat-market in China (picture-alliance/Ch. Mohr)

    How to protect yourself against the coronavirus

    Well done — not rare!

    Cook meat thoroughly. The consumption of raw, or undercooked, animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods. These are good food safety practices and help prevent the spread of illnesses.

    Author: Fabian Schmidt

There have also been reports of masks destined for Canada being diverted, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking ministers to investigate.

Disobedient president

This comes as US President Donald Trump announced that federal health authorities were recommending the wearing of cloth face coverings to help stem the spread of the virus in his country.

Trump said, however, that he himself would not be following the recommendation.

Read more: The doctor wears Prada – How fashion designers and TV series support hospitals

3M has been forced by the US federal administration to supply the country with as many medical-grade masks as possible. The conglomerate has hit back at criticism by US President Donald Trump that it was not doing enough to ensure a supply to the US, saying it had been producing as many masks as possible “over the last several weeks and months.”

It also said a ban on exporting masks to Canada and Latin America raised “significant humanitarian implications” and could cause other countries to retaliate by withholding supplies to the US.

Every evening at 1830 UTC, DW’s editors send out a selection of the day’s hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.


Article source: