Global Affairs Canada shipped 16 tonnes of personal protective equipment to China last month to fight the coronavirus, when the World Health Organization (WHO) had already warned countries to prepare for a pandemic.
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According to the “Globe & Mail”, on February 9, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Francois-Philippe Champagne, announced that since February 4, “Canada has sent approximately 16 tonnes of personal protective equipment, including clothing , visors, masks, glasses and gloves ”in China, in a collaborative effort to fight COVID-19.
The country behind the epidemic was at the peak of detected cases, sending equipment was then justified. International Development Minister Karina Gould said at the time that “personal protective equipment is essential to prevent and limit the spread of the virus.”
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However, the WHO had warned on January 30 that the epidemic was a “public health emergency of international scope” and that “it was expected that new cases exported internationally could appear in any country. ”
The UN agency also said that “all countries should be prepared for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management.”
On February 7, WHO also predicted “serious disruption of the coronavirus” in the supply of personal protective equipment.
“It was absolutely certain that in early February we would have needed this equipment,” Amir Attaran, a professor at the University of Ottawa school of epidemiology and public health, told The Globe & Mail. “This decision went beyond selflessness and resulted in great carelessness and incompetence, because Canada did not have and has no excess equipment to waste.”
Adam Austen, Francois-Philippe Champagne’s press secretary, told the Globe & Mail that sending to China was justified by the collaborative effort to fight SARS-CoV-2, and that today , China returns the favor.
There is no indication, however, that the Chinese donation will be as significant. The Toronto daily tried to get a response from the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa, but was unsuccessful.
The products that Canada sent to China included 50,118 visors, 1,101 masks, 1,820 pairs of glasses, 36,425 medical suits, 200,000 nitrile gloves and 3,000 aprons, from Canadian Red Cross and Canadian government stocks Canada.