Second person dies from covid19 in NZ
New Zealanders ‘caught
short after masks sent to
11 April, 2020
New Zealanders have been left short of masks and protective gear because shipments of the products were sent to China, it has been claimed.
Despite Government assurances that there is enough stock, shortages of masks and other protective gear have been reported around the country, by shoppers looking to purchase them and healthcare workers seeking extra protection.
In March, New Zealand Dental Association chief executive Dr David Crum told Stuff it had between four and six weeks’ worth of surgical masks left.
A major supplier in this country said it was struggling to keep up with demand because delivery from manufacturers in China had been badly disrupted.
Staff at Hutt Hospital said they were given masks with crumbling elastic bands.
University of Canterbury professor Anne-Marie Brady said the shortage had been exacerbated by masks and other equipment being sent in their thousands from New Zealand to China by Chinese organisations based here.
“While the New Zealand Ministry of Health have a stockpile of masks and other PPE which they say is sufficient for our hospitals, ordinary New Zealanders and non-health workers have missed out on access to masks which are normally available in our pharmacies and hardware stores, because our public supplies were bought up in bulk and sent out to China in an organised effort by Chinese Communist Party Government proxy groups, as well as by profiteers who are now selling New Zealand-origin masks on Taobao, and also by a few well-meaning individuals who wanted to support family and friends in China.
“The Government’s reticence to endorse public mask-wearing in New Zealand reflects that health officials were well aware that there none available to buy in New Zealand and that this had been the case since late January 2020. Now we are being told to make cloth masks, but we should not have these shortages if the Government had restricted the export of medical equipment and limited how many masks one individual could purchase—as Taiwan did.”
Icehouse-backed Eden Ventures sent 960 medical gowns, 12,400 medical gloves and 100 pairs of protective goggles from Auckland-based Amtech to China in early March.
That followed an earlier shipment of face masks donated by Dawei Duan, chief financial officer of iFLYTEK, an investor and close partner of Eden Ventures in January, before a second shipment of medical gowns was sent directly to a hospital in Wuhan which was operating at critically low supply-levels.
Eden Ventures founder Jason Wang said that was when the issue was largely in China and frontline medical staff there were struggling.
“The logic was if the virus is a fight for all humanity – and if we supported China to combat, we wouldn’t face it ourselves in New Zealand. Unfortunately, it now has become a global pandemic.”