In cash and on foot of the plane: this is how French mask orders are ‘stolen’

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In cash and on foot of the plane: this is how French mask orders are ‘stolen.’

A plane with US medical supplies is loaded at a Chinese airport./EFE
A flight with US medical supplies is loaded at a Chinese airport. 

US buyers divert shipments of materials ordered by other countries at Chinese airports, paying up to four times more

They pay up to three or four times the price, and they do it in cash. In the same airport, also. And the shipment, ordered by France – although it could be any other country – from Chinese manufacturers ends up for the United States. Several Gaul regional presidents have denounced the dirty tricks that certain American buyers have developed to stock up on masks in a market that has become the law of the jungle.

The Health Minister, Olivier Véran, already warned last week that the situation in the mask and sanitary material market has become so severe that it cannot be ensured that an order is fulfilled “until the plane lands (with the cargo) at a French airport. ‘ Now, it is clearer why.


Preceding. Paris also retained in the port of Marseille a consignment destined for Spain, Italy and Sweden.
Macron promises that the country will be self-sufficient before the end of the year so as not to depend on foreigners

“The tension is enormous (in China), and the scams are multiple and varied,” denounced this Thursday at BFM the president of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, Renaud Muselier. According to the representative, it has already happened that orders paid in advance by a French region have been “repurchased” by “Americans”, who are waiting in Chinese airports with money in briefcases. The cargo quickly changes from one plane to another and those who had made the original order have no choice but to deal with a delay in delivery. Prices are also more expensive.

No region has wanted to admit having been a victim of this ruse – politics rules – but from the environment of other French regional presidents, they have confirmed to ‘Libération’ that it is a practice that is being observed with helplessness. Against this background, the president, Emmanuel Macron, promised this week that France would be self-sufficient in the manufacture of masks before the end of the year, to avoid having to depend on foreigners for a product that is proving vital in the fight against Covid-19.


But if France has been a victim in this case of the law of the strongest, before it was an executioner. Emmanuel Macron’s decision to nationalize all the mask stocks in the country in early March has had at least three collateral victims: Spain, Italy and Sweden.

The French government requested on March 5 an order for 4 million masks from the Swedish company Mölnlycke, specialized in disposable medical products and which has a logistics centre in Lyon. The cargo, made in China, had arrived this far and arrived in France through the port of Marseille. Half of that order was destined for Spain and Italy, which had each ordered a million masks, according to the weekly ‘L’Express’.

Only then did France allow half of that stock to reach its final destination, keeping the other two million masks. The Swedish multinational has since decided to avoid Marseille and Lyon for its imports, at the risk of the products being re-requisitioned by the authorities.

At least 884 deceased in nursing homes

France finally began this Thursday to report deaths from the Covid-19 epidemic that have occurred in nursing homes, at least 884 since the beginning of March, although the data is not yet complete. The figure adds to deaths in hospitals, the only data reported so far, to reach 5,387 deaths.

“The figures are still very partial,” warned the director general of Health, Jérôme Salomon, on Thursday, so it is expected that they will increase considerably when all nursing homes (more than 10,600 in the country) have been able to report the deaths that have occurred. In its bosom since the beginning of the crisis through the system launched last weekend by the authorities. At the moment, only two-thirds of them have been able to do it.

The intensity of the epidemic is accelerating in the country. In the Paris region, the pressure is such that one of the refrigerated buildings of the Rungis International Market, the leading wholesaler of fresh produce in Paris, is going to be enabled as a morgue, as confirmed by the company that manages it. This same warehouse, which is isolated from the rest, has already been used to house those who died in the 2003 heatwave when hospital morgues were also overwhelmed.

More than 25,000 people are hospitalized, 6,489 in intensive care. So far, the health authorities have managed to transfer 439 patients from the most affected areas, mainly the Grand Est and Paris regions, to less congested areas.

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