Coronavirus: Flanders gets 100,000 unusable masks

Coronavirus: Flanders gets 100,000 unusable masks
© Belga

100,000 FFP2 masks destined for Flemish rehabilitation hospitals in light of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic have been deemed unusable according to De Tijd.

The Flemish Health Agency (Vlaams Agentschap Zorg en Gezondheid) discovered that the masks they received were not of good quality and were not certified, produced for industry rather than for the healthcare sector, De Tijd wrote.

"In the absence of a trademark, it seems to us that it would be preferable not to use them for direct contact with Covid-19 patients," said the Health Agency's administrator-general Dirk Dewolf on 23 March, the same day that their delivery was announced by Flemish Minister of Wellbeing Wouter Beke.

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"It turned out that they did not come from China, as has been said, but from Colombia. They were packed in boxes of used bananas and cornflakes, which is against the regulations. In one box, we found the excrement of an animal," said the director of Antwerp's RevArte hospital, Ludo Splingaer. "As a result, we still don't have enough appropriate masks to protect our staff."

The Flemish Health Agency will investigate the situation. "Maybe they're still useable for staff that doesn't come in touch with corona patients," said Health Agency spokesperson Joris Moonens.

With high demand all across the world, everyone tries to scramble and take what they can, De Tijd wrote.

16 million additional masks are expected to arrive in Belgium from China on Thursday. They will be delivered by a Hasselt-based airline who is chartering a Boeing 747 for the occasion.

Jason Spinks

The Brussels Times

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