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Netherlands, Spain, Turkey to recall defective China-made masks and test kits

08:02 | 31/03/2020

The three European countries have all complained of poor accuracy rate with coronavirus-related protective products, including test kits and face masks, as rising confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection in Europe increase dependence on Chinese imports, Financial Times reported.

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Medical personnel transfer an intensive care patient to a Mobile Intensive Care Unit vehicle in Breda, the Netherlands. (Photo: EPA-EFE)

The claims come as tensions grow over what the EU’s top diplomat has branded Beijing’s use of the “politics of generosity” in a “battle of narratives” over who were the most reliable international partners in the global crisis.

Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) said in a statement to NOS on March 29 it has ordered a retraction of around 600,000 China-made masks from the Dutch hospitals as they are "defective”, failing to fit the mouth and having insufficient filte, thus, do not provide any protection against coronavirus infection.

The country had previously received a batch of 1.3 billion so-called FFP2 masks from China on March 21. The Ministry of Health has ordered a recall of around 600,000 pieces of them as they have already been distributed to hospitals.

Authorities said the masks, from an undisclosed source, came with a KN95 certificate which meant they should filter out at least 95 percent of airborne particles, Financial Times reported.

“Healthcare providers have been informed and told not to use the masks,” the health ministry said in a statement. “Due to shortages, we can find ourselves in a situation where only protective equipment is available that does not meet the highest standards. This is an issue in all countries.”

Josep Borrell, EU high representative for foreign policy, blogged last week that there was a “geopolitical component” to the Covid-19 crisis, including a “struggle for influence through spinning and the ‘politics of generosity’”.

China was “sending equipment and doctors to Europe” and “aggressively pushing the message that, unlike the US, it is a responsible and reliable partner”, he said.

The Netherlands is among a growing number of European countries to receive medical equipment from China. Earlier this month, Chinese telecoms operator Huawei donated a separate delivery of 800,000 face masks to the country — the first batch of which was personally welcomed into the country by Hugo de Jonge, health minister.

netherlands spain turkey to recall defective china made masks and test kits

Workers sort personal protective equipment (PPE) received from China at a warehouse in Valencia, Spain, on March 25, A total of 3,800,000 masks, 5,000 protective suits and 2,000,000 gloves arrived to equip hospitals and elder homes (Photo: Getty Images)

In Spain, which has the world’s second-highest official Covid-19 death toll after Italy, the ministry of health has said it withdrew 8,000 Chinese-made rapid testing kits delivered to Madrid’s regional government because of worries about inaccurate results. It also sent back an additional 50,000 testing kits that had not been distributed.

The Spanish government says the supplier, Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology, will replace them with 58,000 kits to the correct specifications in the “coming days”, as part of a total planned shipment of 640,000. Shenzhen Bioeasy has said that the problems may have been because of incorrect sample collection or use of the product.

The Spanish government says the supplier, Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology, will replace them with 58,000 kits to the correct specifications in the “coming days”, as part of a total planned shipment of 640,000.

Shenzhen Bioeasy has said that the problems may have been because of incorrect sample collection or use of the product. Spain says the order is separate from a €432m purchase of medical equipment from China announced last week, which includes 5.5m tests. The Chinese embassy in Madrid also stressed that the allegedly defective Shenzhen Bioeasy tests were not part of a consignment it helped arrange.

Turkey's health minister raised similar issues during a news conference on Friday, saying rapid testing kit samples from a Chinese company did not meet the country's effectiveness standards. He added another Chinese firm had instead been selected to provide the kits.

France's Health Minister Olivier Veran also announced he ordered more than a billion masks, notably from China, to help the country fight the coronavirus pandemic. It remains unclear if France will cancel its order, Al Jazeera reported.

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