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US firm denies German 'piracy' claims over vanished face masks
April 4, 2020 | 4:31 PM
by DW
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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 was confiscated in the Thai capital, Bangkok, by US officials.

The company told a German's 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.

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

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.

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.





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