By Alfred Sasako
CHINA’s Charge d’affaires Yao Ming this week addressed doubts and misinformation that Chinese-made facial masks and test kits to fight the COVID-19 pandemic were unreliable.
Speaking at the Exchange of Notes ceremony in Honiara on Wednesday, Ambassador Yao said much of the doubts were based on misunderstanding by recipient countries that were not familiar with the use of test kits in particular.
These misunderstandings have now been dealt with and recipient countries across Europe and Asia have conveyed their gratitude, thanking China for its help during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
The misunderstanding began in Spain in March this year when it was claimed the test kits bought from a Chinese company called Bioeasy is fake, despite the fact that all the test kits were already certified by the European Union (EU).
“The trick is, just as the Chinese company later clarified, Spanish medical staff’s operation is strictly binding to the instruction. After the Chinese company helped solved this problem, Spanish side decided to continue purchasing goods from this company, according to one report.
Spain has since bought $467 million worth of medical supplies from China, its Health Minister reportedly said.
Officials in Slovakia too questioned the reliability of the quick coronavirus test kits purchased from China. But it turns out Slovak medical workers used these antigen test kits incorrectly with a preceding method applicable to nucleic acid testing, which led to the inaccurate results, Ambassador Yao said.
Ambassador Yao’s explanation is supported by other independent reports on China’s role in the fight against the global pandemic.
For example, after the apparent misunderstanding was solved, Slovak foreign ministry thanked China for its help at a difficult time, saying it appreciated China’s assistance in exporting medical supplies to Slovakia. Nearly the same stories happened in the central European country of Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, and the Philippines, he said.
In the United States, President Trump said in a recent White House press briefing that Chinese testing kit, PPE have good quality because “we test it. We look (at) it. We check it out.”
Czech President Zeman had also expressed his support for Chinese made medical goods, saying “After consultation with my Ministers of Health and Internal Affairs, I was told Chinese medical supplies have very good quality. Those who took only one defective mask from a million and declaring all are defective, are saying nonsense and should apologize.”
The facts speak for themselves in terms of China’s contribution to the fight against the COVID-19.
Almost every country severely affected by COVID-19 has kept purchasing from Chinese companies. For example, a commercial aircraft carrying 80 tons of gloves, masks, gowns and other medical supplies from Shanghai touched down in New York on March 29th, the first of 22 scheduled flights.
The Cabinet Office Minister of the United Kingdom said the government is purchasing 300 new ventilators from China.
“The French government announced it had ordered one billion masks from China and 100 tonnes of medical supplies. Following a highly publicized hunt for supplies amid mounting criticism from local authorities and hospitals, Czech government officials greeted a flight from Shanghai carrying 1.1 million FFP-2 level respirators bough from China on 20th March.
“A historic flight, the first of 10 flights to Beijing to deliver PPE to Ireland as part of a €208m deal, has landed back in Dublin, the report said.
Big companies, too, are moving.
Airbus continues to purchase and supply millions of face masks from China, the large majority of which will be donated to governments of the Airbus home countries, namely France, Germany, Spain and the UK.
Closer to home, West Australian iron ore magnate Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation has bought 90 tonnes of medical supplies from Chinese suppliers. These are being flown into Perth to be distributed across the state and then Australia.
The Chinese government and its Embassy in Solomon Islands have clarified similar concerns about Chinese medical goods being provided to Honiara.
According to Chinese Xinhua News agency, China has actively joined hands with the rest of the world to stem COVID-19, with the exports of medical supplies registering 10.2 billion yuan (about $1.43 billion) between March 1 and April 4 this year.
The items of medical supplies include 3.86 billion face masks, 37.52 million protective suits, 2.41 million infrared thermometers, as well as ventilators, testing kits and goggles.