Canadian planes sent to China to pick up medical supplies returned empty: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Canada, as efforts continue to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, April 20, 2020. (Blair Gable, Reuters)

Enamul Hafiz Latifee reports,

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday, 21 April 2020, that two planes sent to China to pick up shipments of sorely needed medical supplies were forced to return to Canada empty. Trudeau told reporters today that the cargo-less planes are an example of the complexities in China when it comes to securing personal protective equipment, which has become a valuable commodity in the global battle against COVID-19.


“Unfortunately, the planes had to take off in this situation without receiving their cargo deliveries,” Trudeau said during his daily COVID-19 update. “We have been fighting in a very competitive international environment where everyone is looking for PPE.”


He said the planes sent across the Pacific to pick up PPE- one on behalf of the federal government and the other for a province – returned to Canada on Monday, 20 April 2020. Trudeau declined to identify the province.


The Prime Minister described “severe restrictions” on the ground in China in terms of how long an airplane can stay in airports before they are forced to leave- full or not. He said supply lines and truck shipments to China’s airports are “difficult and interrupted by checkpoints and quarantine measures.”


Trudeau did not specify whether the recent introduction of tougher export controls in China has been contributing to the hold-ups.

But he said Canada has still received millions of PPE in recent days- and he expects more shipments to arrive over the coming days and weeks. For Canada’s COVID-19 response, Trudeau announced C$350 million in new funding on 21 April 2020 for charities and nonprofit organizations that deliver essential services to vulnerable people.


High demand for medical supplies throughout the world has put enormous pressure on competing buyers and has forced government officials to find creative solutions to obtain equipment.


Maryland governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, managed to obtain thousands of coronavirus test kits for his state from South Korean labs, in a deal facilitated by his wife, Yumi, who is of South Korean descent. “It should not have been this difficult” to obtain the test kits, Hogan told the New York Times.


US officials have lamented the country’s dependence on various Chinese supply chains for vital supplies amid the pandemic. “It is the cruelest irony that this nation is now dependent on China for many of these products,” New York governor Andrew Cuomo said at the beginning of April. “Gowns and gloves are not complicated components to manufacture.”


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