Germany bans export of masks and gloves over coronavirus

A so-called FFP2 face mask, which the Robert Koch Institute recommends for medical personal. Photo: DPA
Germany's Interior Ministry on Wednesday said it had banned exports of medical protection gear such as masks and gloves to ensure health workers in the country have enough to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

The move comes as governments around the world are scrambling to protect supplies as fears over the deadly virus have sparked panic buying, hoarding and even theft.

In a statement, Germany's Interior Ministry said it had published a decree in the Federal Gazette outlawing “the export abroad of medical protective gear (masks, gloves, protective suits, etc.)”.

Exceptions can be made, it added, for instance as part of “international aid missions”.

It came after doctors in Germany reported they were concerned about not having enough protective equipment to deal with the spread.

Germany has recorded 240 cases of the novel coronavirus so far, the bulk of them in North Rhine-Westphalia state where an infected couple attended carnival celebrations last month.

But cases have been confirmed in all of Germany's 16 states except for the eastern Saxony-Anhalt.

READ ALSO: MAP: The parts of Germany most affected by coronavirus outbreak

The state's health minister Karl-Josef Laumann told reporters on Wednesday that North Rhine-Westphalia would buy one million masks to help keep medical staff safe.

Like other countries, Germany has also cancelled a string of major events such as ITB Berlin, the world's largest tourism fair and the Leipzig Book Fair, to contain the spread of the virus.

The Hannover Messe, one of the world's largest industrial trade fairs drawing in some 200,000 visitors a year, joined the list when it announced Wednesday that next month's event would be moved to July.

READ ALSO: Berlin travel fair ITB cancelled over coronavirus fears

In Frankfurt, the European Central Bank said it was limiting staff travel and postponing some events, including “ECB Listens”, the first in a series of talks with members of the public that was set to be held in Brussels on March 26th.

But the ECB's 25-member governing council will gather as scheduled for next week's monetary policy meeting.

The March 12th press conference after the meeting will also go ahead as planned, though journalists who do not wish to attend in person may exceptionally submit their questions in advance, the central bank said.


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