A diplomatic crisis has been sparked between Austria and Switzerland on one side and Germany on the other after the Germans put a ban on the export of facemasks.
German health ministry officials announced last week that is the coronavirus spreads, they were banning the delivery of facemasks produced in the country abroad.
This means that anyone who orders facemasks made in Germany on Amazon for example, will in theory not receive them, because Amazon.at and Amazon.ch redirect to Amazon.de.
Also banned along with facemasks is the export of other protective items including protective eyewear, face shields, protective clothing and gloves.
The measure was justified by the need to provide vital emergency services to the domestic market, in order to maintain the German health system.
But that provoked a diplomatic row when the deliveries of facemasks being sent to Austria and then to Switzerland were stopped at the border.
In Austria, where there was already a facemask shortage, meaning non-essential surgery was being cancelled, the German move sparked outrage when border guards stopped a lorry full of facemasks heading across the border into Upper Austria.
The Upper Austrian region spokesman Gerhard Hasenoehrl where the masks were destined said: “We have been aware of the incident since Thursday.
Now the Swiss have reported an identical problem with another load this time of 240,000 urgently needed protective facemasks for medical personnel, also stopped at the border.
The Swiss state secretary for economic affairs has already contacted the German ambassador to protest against the ban and urged for the release of the urgently needed facemasks.
The lorry was reportedly a Swiss lorry that was stopped and forbidden to carry on with the cargo still on board. It is also reportedly not an isolated case.
The general mood followed on from a similar measure in France causing a crisis in Switzerland which produces almost none of the medical consumables, and the government had neglected to stockpile such materials.
Even in nursing homes the shortages are now becoming extreme. The government denied that it was responsible for keeping stockpiles, noting that responsibility for implementation lay with the individual healthcare institutions.
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