Coronavirus: Belgium takes steps to ensure safe mouth masks
Friday, 10 April 2020
Extra measures will ensure that future deliveries of mouth masks to Belgium in the effort to fight the new coronavirus (Covid-19) will be of sufficient quality, said the Federal Minister in charge of the Covid-19 Task Force, Philippe De Backer, on Friday.
A team of professional buyers is now dedicated exclusively to the search for protective equipment. When an offer is made, they will carry out an accounting analysis of the company and request certificates. “This is necessary because there are false certificates circulating,” explained the minister’s spokesperson.
On-site checks are also being carried out, with a team inspecting lots and plants. Once new masks arrive in Belgium, a check will be carried out by the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (FAMHP).
The news comes after De Backer revealed to the House of Representatives on Thursday that three million FFP2 masks that came from China last week had been deemed unusable, something De Backer called a “heavy setback.”
“We shouldn’t be surprised that our country bought 3 million worthless mouth masks,” according to Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws. The paper found out that the order was received by a company in Zulte (West Flanders province), who worked with a Chinese intermediary, who found the masks on social media. De Backer tweeted on Thursday that legal action had been taken against the supplier.
This is not the only batch of unusable mouth masks to arrive in Belgium since the start of the coronavirus crisis. At the end of March, a batch of 100,000 FFP2 masks destined for Flemish rehabilitation hospitals was not of good quality, and the University Hospital of Leuven refused a shipment of 3,000 masks for the same reason.