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Coronavirus: Canada investigates reports medical supplies shipment ‘diverted to US’

Canada is investigating reports a shipment of medical supplies the country had ordered was diverted to the US.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is “very concerned”, adding that “we need to make sure that [coronavirus] equipment that is destined for Canada gets to and stays in Canada.

“And I’ve asked ministers to follow up on these particular reports.

Image: A COVID-19 testing center in the Canadian capital, Ottawa

“We are working not just here at home but overseas; as well, to ensure that the equipment that Canada has ordered makes its way to Canada.”

Coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 125 Canadians, while more than 10,000 have fallen ill.


Mr Trudeau told reporters on Thursday he has asked his public safety minister and transport minister to investigate, but stressed the country’s relationship with its neighbour to the south has not changed.

“We are working together [with US officials]. We understand that the needs of the United States are real, but the needs of Canada are also real. And we need to work together to that end,” he added.

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A top health official in France’s hard-hit eastern region pointed the finger at Washington.

Dr Jean Rottner, an emergency room doctor in Mulhouse, told RTL radio American officials swooped on a Chinese airport to take away a planeload of masks that France had ordered.

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“On the tarmac, the Americans arrive, take out cash and pay three or four times more for our orders, so we really have to fight.”

Almost 200,000 masks are heading to New York, the epicentre of the infection in the US, courtesy of the Justice Department.

It is distributing about 192,000 N-95 masks as well as gloves, gowns, hand sanitiser and other personal protective equipment seized by the new coronavirus hoarding and price gouging task force.

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The supplies, found by the FBI on Monday, will go to frontline medical workers in New York and New Jersey.

The justice department says it notified the department of health and human services, which compelled the supplies be turned over as part of the Defense Production Act.

Coronavirus: The infection numbers in real time

Coronavirus: The infection numbers in real time

Agents also found nearly 600,000 medical-grade gloves, 130,000 surgical masks, some N100 masks and disinfectant spray and towels.

Authorities said the owner would be paid “fair market value” for the supplies.


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