China imported 2 billion masks and began hoarding protective gear before coronavirus outbreak worsened

Chinese firms operating in countries like Australia stockpiled the protective equipment in massive quantity and sent them back to their home country


                            China imported 2 billion masks and began hoarding protective gear before coronavirus outbreak worsened
(Getty Images)

At a time when the US intelligence has revealed that China suppressed the extent of coronavirus outbreak on its soil and under-reported both the number of confirmed cases and the death toll, it has also been learnt that the Asian powerhouse imported more than two billion masks and 25 million pieces of protective clothing from abroad before the outbreak attained the status of a pandemic. The first death in China from the deadly virus took place on January 11 and the outbreak reportedly originated in the city of Wuhan.

Gradually, the pandemic engulfed the entire world and at the time of writing this report, China (82,394 hit) has been overtaken by countries like the US, Italy and Spain both on counts of affected and dead. China has claimed to have slowed down its outbreak and its notorious ‘wet markets’ have been reopened, much to the chagrin of the outer world. 

And now, a Chinese government report emerged with details over its foreign trade for the first two months of 2020 when the country reached the peak of its coronavirus crisis. China, in fact, witnessed a ‘rapid growth in imports of commodities and key consumer goods’, Daily Mail reported

The growth meant over 2.46 billion pieces of medical materials, including masks and protective gear, were inspected by National Customs in China between January 24 and February 29, the government report added. 

China rushed protective gear to its soil on war-footing

According to the report, a policy of zero-delay customs clearance of epidemic prevention and control materials was being followed while ensuring a smooth movement of the supplies into China. 
 
It was reported that Chinese firms functioning in Australia, which has been badly hit by the outbreak, sent bulk medical supplies to their country. In late February, Chinese-owned Risland Australia, a property developer, reportedly flew 80 tonnes of medical supplies on a corporate plane into Wuhan, Daily Mail added. 

A health worker checks the temperature of women entering the subway on January 26, 2020 in Beijing, China. (Getty Images)

Another Chinese company called Greenland Group asked its employees to buy face masks, hand sanitizers, thermometers etc. in bulk for shipment back home. Greenland, a property company, subsequently bought three million surgical masks, 50,000 pairs of gloves and massive supplies of sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes in Australia and other countries where it is functional. 

Sherwood Lou, managing director of Greenland Australia, shared photos of the supplies on February 13 and wrote then: “The second batch of non-contact forehead thermometers will soon take off to China! Coronavirus situation is serious, Chinese people, local and overseas, are trying their best, fighting together to combat the virus.”

The Daily Mail report also cited that a whistleblower told Australian daily Sydney Morning Herald that the Chinese carried out their exercise worldwide and it went on till the end of February. 

Hospitals in Australia are struggling today to cope with the shortage of protective equipment while the number of coronavirus cases is only heading north. Australia now has over 5,100 confirmed cases with 24 deaths. 

Nearly a million people have been hit by the coronavirus across the globe.

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