Questions are being raised on the wisdom of the government of India after China, purportedly seeing the coronavirus disease turning into an epidemic in this country, donated 1,70,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) to the Indian government. Besides the fact that institutions and agencies across the world are seeing the virus as a biological weapon unleashed by China to emerge a stronger economy in the international order, Rome had recently had a foul experience in trading PPE with Beijing.
Italy had donated a large stock of PPE to China but when the exporter is itself facing a dire shortage of the equipment, China is selling — rather than returning in goodwill — the same donated equipment to Italy.
The coronavirus spread from Wuhan has affected several countries of Europe, with Italy bearing the brunt of it. More than 15,000 people have lost their lives to COVID-19. Here doctors and nurses are also facing the worst crisis.
According to British magazine The Spectator, when the biological agent was spreading rapidly in China, Italy had extended its helping hand to it.
The Spectator report says while China is telling the world it will “donate” the PPE to Italy, wearing a mask of humanity in this hour of crisis, several reports have revealed that China has not donated PPE to Italy but sold them.
The magazine quoted a Trump administration official as saying China “forced Italy to buy back the PPE supply that it gave to China during the initial coronavirus outbreak”.
“Before the virus hit Europe, Italy sent tons of PPE to China to help China protect its own population,” the administration official explained. “China then has sent Italian PPE back to Italy — some of it, not even all of it… and charged them for it,” the official added.
The US official said that the first case of coronavirus had been reported in Wuhan, China last year, which infected “all of us”. “What China has supplied to other countries turns out to be deficient,” he said. He reminded that Spain had returned 50,000 coronavirus testing kits to China.
“It’s so disingenuous for Chinese officials now to say we are the ones who are helping the Italians or we are the ones who are helping the developing world when, in fact, they are the ones who infected all of us,” the senior administration official told The Spectator.
“Of course they should be helping. They have a special responsibility to help because they are the ones who began the spread of the coronavirus and did not give the information required to the rest of the world to plan accordingly,” the magazine quotes the official as saying.
The Trump administration official accused China also of misreporting on coronavirus disease (COVID), the brunt of which the whole world has to bear. He said as China downplayed the outbreak within its borders, nearly half a million people travelled to the US potentially carrying the virus.
The Netherlands also has complained that half of the masks China had sent to it did not meet safety standards.
Turkey, Georgia and the Czech Republic also have complained that the kits it purchased from China were substandard. In some cases, instead of addressing the issue, China blamed “user error”.
India refuses to learn the right lesson
The question is, if 20,000 PPE was grossly inadequate for India, why New Delhi couldn’t import the equipment required from another country or more than one country. There are 3,87,473 PPE already in India. Apart from this, 2 lakh domestically made N95 masks are being supplied to hospitals.
Further, India had placed an order of 80 lakh PPE before a Singaporean company. The consignment will begin arriving on 11 April.
Earlier, the government had provided over 20 lakh N95 masks to hospitals. The government stock still has 16 lakh unused N95 masks.
This ‘help’ from China comes close on the heels of the Indian Red Cross Society accepting ‘help’ from Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundation, both entities believed to function according to the will of the communist regime of Beijing.
Meanwhile, the COVID outbreak, according to the data released on Monday by the Ministry of Health, has affected 4,281 Indians. So far, more than a hundred Indians have died of COVID.
In the last 24 hours, 28 people have died and 704 new cases have been reported. In view of the increasing cases of COVID, people are not sure the lockdown will end on 14 April although today Prime Minister Narendra Modi hinted at a phased withdrawal in his interactions with union ministers via video conferencing.
The number of patients who have recovered is 319.