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Germany prevents shipment of protective masks headed toward Switzerland

German customs authorities have blocked a shipment of protective masks headed toward Switzerland, sparking fresh diplomatic tensions between the two countries as the coronavirus continues to spread throughout Europe.

A truckload of 240,000 protective masks bound for Switzerland was blocked by German custom agents following a recent decision made by Germany’s federal government to ban exports and other key medical gear amid a worsening coronavirus pandemic, The Local Germany reports.

“SECO said a truck with 240,000 masks on board was commandeered before it left German soil by customs authorities. SECO added that the interception does not appear to be an isolated incident, with all further transports likely to be blocked.”

The Swiss government has called for an emergency meeting with the German ambassador, looking for concrete answers concerning the issue. On Sunday, Switzerland’s Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) urged “German authorities to release the blacked masks immediately”.

The situation in Switzerland is especially serious since the country produces very little protective medical gear itself.

Unfortunately for Switzerland, this doesn’t appear to be an isolated event, as all further shipments of similar goods are likely to be blocked in the future.

On Wednesday, the German government placed a blanket ban on the export of medical protective equipment like respiratory masks, goggles, protective suits, and gloves. The French government has enacted a similar export ban.

 Switzerland isn’t Germany’s only neighbor who’s upset with their decision to horde critical medical supplies. Austria isn’t too happy about it either.
Upon hearing about the export ban, Austrian Economic Minister Margarete Schramboeck said, “It can’t be that Germany is holding back products for Austria just because they happen to be stored in a German location,”

Per the World Health Organization, about 8 in 10 of those who contract the virus recover without needing any special treatment, while about 1 in 7 who get COVID-19 becomes seriously sick and develops severe respiratory problems.

Roughly, 3.4 percent of COVID-19 cases are fatal, according to the most recent WHO figures.
Thus far, there are 312 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Switzerland, with 62 additional positive tests that are currently awaiting confirmation.
Voice Of Europe
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