As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across Europe and the United States, a global scramble for protective equipment such as masks and gloves is underway. In France they are calling it the “guerre des masques” — the war of the masks.
Some French officials have even alleged that their consignments from China have been hijacked by Americans.
The masks were on a plane at Shanghai airport that was ready to take off when the US buyers turned up and offered three times what their French counterparts were paying.
As the pandemic worsens, panicked governments have been accused of using questionable methods to acquire supplies in the battle against the coronavirus. Tactics have ranged from blocking exports of medical supplies to sending spies on clandestine missions to find tests.
In an interview with French television Thursday, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said securing deliveries was “not always easy.” The problem, he said, was “not logistical difficulties related to missing aircraft but difficulties sometimes in accessing the products from orders that are not always delivered. This is for a variety of reasons, including the huge demand that comes to China from the United States, from Europe, and indeed from the whole world.”
The United States, which now has the highest number of known cases of coronavirus in the world, is trying to procure any masks available, disrupting deliveries to other nations, another report by French daily Liberation indicated