Canadian PM Justin Trudeau calls US stop on medical supplies ‘mistake’

It would be a “mistake” for the United States to stop masks badly needed by health care professionals from coming into Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Trudeau was reacting to the Trump administration order to 3M to stop exporting the essential supplies to Canada.

He noted that thousands of Canadian nurses cross the border from Windsor, Ontario into Detroit to work at American hospitals. Goods and services are a two-way street between Canada and the U.S.

“The U.S. also receives essential supplies and products and indeed health care professionals from Canada every single day,” Trudeau said. “It would be a mistake to create blockages or reduce the amount of back and forth.”

He said the two governments were in discussions on the ban.

The 3M company has misgivings about Trump’s order, which went into effect three hours after the president invoked the Defense Production Act which means America gets priority on essential materials. The order also forbade the export of respirators.

“The (Trump) Administration also requested that 3M cease exporting respirators that we currently manufacture in the United States to the Canadian and Latin American markets,” read a press release from the company. “There are, however, significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to healthcare workers in Canada and Latin America, where we are a critical supplier of respirators.”

The company went on to warn that other countries might retaliate.

"Ceasing all export of respirators produced in the United States would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same, as some have already done. If that were to occur, the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease. That is the opposite of what we and the Administration, on behalf of the American people, both seek."

At his Friday press conference, Trudeau also announced the establishment of a $100 million fund for food banks. The government has also signed a contract with Amazon Canada to deliver essential medical supplies across the country.

COVID-19: German official accuses US of ‘modern piracy'

A senior German politician on Friday accused the Trump administration of “modern piracy” after nearly 200,000 face masks ordered by Germany were seized by U.S. authorities.

Andreas Geisel, the interior minister for Berlin state, confirmed media reports that about 200,000 FFP2 masks purchased for the Berlin police were seized at an airport in the Thai capital Bangkok following intervention by American authorities.

“We view this as an act of modern piracy,” he said in a written statement, stressing that such behavior between transatlantic partners is unacceptable.

"Even in times of global crisis there should be no wild west methods. I am urging the [German] federal government to demand the U.S.A. respect international rules,” he added.

According to German public broadcaster RBB, Berlin had purchased the masks from U.S. company 3M, which has factories in China.

The shipment destined for Germany was stopped at the Bangkok airport following intervention by American authorities and was diverted to the U.S., local media reported.

The Trump administration has been accused of pursuing a haphazard, “every man for himself” policy on equipment needed to deal with the pandemic.

The rapid spread of coronavirus has led to a global run on sales of face masks, while many countries are facing shortages.

Germany is the third-worst-affected country by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe after Italy and Spain.

Germany's death toll rose to 1,217 on Friday, while the total number of cases surpassed 89,500.

Data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University shows worldwide infections surging past 1 million, with more than 55,100 deaths. Over 221,200 people have recovered.