France’s frontline health staff demand answers about sudden supply of face masks, citing retail profiteering as a reason for past shortages.

France’s frontline health staff demand answers about sudden supply of face masks, citing retail profiteering as a reason for past shortages.

SINCE France went into lockdown mid-March protective face masks became extremely hard to find, especially for priority medical staff needing basic protective equipment to look after patients suffering with Covid-19.
However, with assurances from President Macron, it seems the government has managed to resolve the supply problems, with supermarkets and pharmacies in France ready to distribute masks from this coming Monday.

Agnes Pannier-Runacher, France’s Secretary of State for Economy announced on Friday that large supermarkets would have 10 million masks on sale from next week and had “secured orders” for a continued supply.

France is set to roll back some lockdown from May 11, but those using public transport and teachers will be obligated to wear protective masks from that date. Yet with health care workers having spent weeks chasing after PPE to treat virus sufferers, seven medical associations want to know how all these millions of masks have suddenly materialised now.

In a joint statement, the associations stated their belief that the “war” on coronavirus had given the retail sector a huge chance to indulge in profiteering, given the extreme demand for masks.
“How will our patients, especially the most fragile ones, understand that what wasn’t to be found yesterday when we were telling them they could not benefit from adapted protection should emerge in great quantity today?”

Retail chains insist they are not profiteering, their industry federation responded that they “are not and never have been in charge of the purchase and supply of masks for caregivers.”

In a statement, the federation said it was “dishonest” and unfair to try to blame retailers for short supplies. It added its members had handed over stocks of higher grade reusable masks to health professionals early on in the crisis and had not held onto “hidden stocks.”

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Damon Mitchell

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