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Now That Canada Is Rationing Masks, Trudeau Faces Backlash for Donating Medical Supplies to China

Boxes of N95 protective masks for use by medical field personnel in New Rochelle, New York, March 17, 2020. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Canada’s Official Opposition Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer took aim at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for shipping tons of medical supplies to China in February, calling the move “outrageous” with current concerns that Canada is running short on supplies amid its own fight against coronavirus.

“Drs. across the country are facing urgent shortages of critical supplies. PM must explain why he sent 50,118 face shields, 1,101 masks, 1,820 goggles, 36,425 medical coveralls, 200,000 nitrile gloves and 3,000 aprons from Canada’s own gov’t reserves overseas in Feb,” Scheer tweeted.

 

Canada’s Foreign Affairs department announced on February 9 that “Canada has deployed approximately 16 tonnes of personal protective equipment, such as clothing, face shields, masks, goggles and gloves” overseas to China, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

The move came after the World Health Organization warned the international community that “further international exportation of cases may appear in any country” and that “severe coronavirus-related disruptions” would occur as a result.

“It was absolutely certain in early February that we would need this equipment,” Amir Attaran, a professor at University of Ottawa’s school of epidemiology and public health and its faculty of law, told The Globe and Mail. “This decision went beyond altruism into high negligence and incompetence because Canada did not, and does not, have surplus equipment to spare.”

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs explained to the paper that the decision was made “when the spread of COVID-19 was primarily limited to China,” and that Canada had since “welcomed donations from Chinese companies” to boost its own stockpiles.

Local European news outlets reported this week that the majority of rapid coronavirus test kits supplied by China to Spain and the Czech Republic are faulty.

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