SHARE
COPY LINK

HEALTH

‘Modern-day piracy’: German official says US swooped on masks at airport

The United States diverted a delivery of Chinese-made face masks bound for Germany at a Bangkok airport, a Berlin city official said Friday, accusing Washington of "modern-day piracy" as competition for protective gear against the coronavirus heats up.

'Modern-day piracy': German official says US swooped on masks at airport
The company Ber-Bek in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania lays out masks ready to be transported on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

In a statement Berlin's state minister of the interior, Andreas Geisel, said 200,000 highly sought-after FFP2 masks, made by an American firm in China and destined for use by Berlin police, were “confiscated” in Bangkok.

“At the moment we assume this is in connection with the US government's export ban on masks,” the statement said.

President Donald Trump, after a late start in procuring urgently needed protective gear, has in recent days invoked the Defense Production Act to get US firms to divert their resources to the battle against the pandemic.

According to German newspaper Bild, the hijacked shipment contained masks made in China by US firm 3M, one of the leading brands in the sector, that were then diverted to the United States.

Trump had on Thursday lashed out at 3M on Twitter, saying the administration “hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their Masks”.

“P Act” all the way. Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing – will have a big price to pay!”, he wrote, referring to the Defense Production Act.

READ ALSO: Germany enlists industrial giants to procure face masks and medical gear

 

'Wild West'

German Health Minister Jens Spahn told a press conference on Friday that he was unaware of the specific incident in Bangkok but said reports of this kind had been coming in and “are generally not a good development”.

Local official Geisel was more blunt, blasting the US for resorting to “methods from the Wild West”.

“We see this as an act of modern-day piracy,” he said, urging the German government to remind Washington to “comply with international rules”.

French officials have also complained this week that Americans had swooped on Chinese masks ordered by France, after apparently outbidding them on a shipment that had already been lined up.

A senior US official however told AFP that the claims were “completely false”.

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked officials to look into similar claims that masks were being diverted from his country, calling such reports “concerning.”

READ ALSO: Coronavirus deaths in Germany top 1,000 as officials say infection rate is slowing

Member comments

  1. You reported that German had the fifth highest number of Corona infections but it’s actually the fourth highest.

  2. Joanne M. Oh, I am so very sorry that we would resort to such despicable actions. I am also embarrassed. I had a new Heat Pump and Heater installed last month in my Condo, very expensive, but I will donate to your fund as soon as possible. I wish I lived in your country. I have many good friends living here who are from Germany and I have a Dear friend who is living there.
    There are many things my country does that I do not approve of, but, of course, all I can do is vote and hope. Again, my sincere apologies.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

HEALTH

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

Due to high Covid infection numbers throughout the summer, it’s now possible to get a sick note from a doctor over the phone again for some illnesses. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

What’s happened?

In spring 2020, German authorities changed the law so that people with a mild upper respiratory tract illness, such as the common cold, were able to get an incapacity to work certificate or AU-Bescheinigung by simply calling and speaking to their GP.

The rule was extended several times and finally reversed on June 1st this year due to falling infection figures. Since then people have had to go back to the practice – or do a video call if the doctor’s office has that system in place – to get a sick note.

Now, due to a decision by the Joint Federal Committee, the regulation has been reintroduced and patients can call their GP again for a sick note.

Can I get a sick note over the phone for any illness?

No. As before, the regulation only applies to patients suffering from a mild upper respiratory tract illness. Though Covid has not explicitly been named in the announcement, it seems that it is intended to be covered by the regulation.

If the doctor is convinced that the patient is unfit for work after a telephone consultation, then they can issue a sick note for up to seven days.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The changes around doctor’s notes in Germany you should know

If the symptoms persist after seven days, the certificate can be extended once more for another week.

Why now?

According to the Chairman of the G-BA, Josef Hecken, the regulation has been introduced now as a response to rising Covid numbers and in anticipation of the cold and flu season in the coming months: “We want to avoid full waiting rooms in doctors’ offices and the emergence of new infection chains,” he said.

The telephone sick leave rule is a simple, proven and uniform nationwide solution for that, he said. The rule is also necessary because video consultation hours are not yet available everywhere.

What else should I know?

The health insurer DAK is calling for telephone sick leave in the case of light respiratory diseases to be made possible on a permanent basis in Germany. DAK’s CEO Andreas Storm said that this should “not always be up for debate, because it has proven itself.” 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

The social association VdK also welcomed the reintroduction of the rule. The VdK’s President Verena Bentele said that the regulation would help to protect high-risk groups in particular from potential infections.

What are the rules to know about sick notes in Germany?

Germany has a strict system in place. If you are sick, you need to give your employer a Krankmeldung (notification of sickness) before the start of work on the first day (of your illness).

However, you also need to hand in a Krankschreibung (doctor’s note) on the fourth day of your illness. Some employments contracts, however, require you to submit a sick not earlier than the fourth day so check with your boss or HR on that point. 

SHOW COMMENTS