Coronavirus: Ventilators bound for Barbados allegedly seized by US

Multiple countries have acused the Trump administration of unfairly acquiring equipment necessary for fighting the ongoing coronavirus outbreak through 'wild west methods.'

A ventilator is seen at the New York City Emergency Management Warehouse (photo credit: REUTERS)
A ventilator is seen at the New York City Emergency Management Warehouse
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Twenty ventilators that were sent to Barbados by an unnamed philanthropist were allegedly seized without explanation by the United States, Barbadian Health Minister Lt.-Col. Jeffrey Bostic said in a national briefing, according to the Miami Herald.
Though the philanthropist was not identified, Bostic denied earlier reports that it was Barbadian singer-songwriter Rihanna, who had pledged to send several ventilators to her home country. Five of those ventilators are still slated to arrive next week, he said according to the Herald.
Barbados is one of several countries, as well as US states, to have accused the Trump administration of unfairly diverting and securing medical equipment essential in the fight against coronavirus, including ventilators, protective gear and N95 respirator masks.
Last Friday, German paper Der Tagesspiegel reported that a shipment of equipment from Berin bound for China was intercepted and acquired by the US.
Berlin's Interior Minister Andreas Geisel slammed the move as "modern piracy" and said that the US was not abiding by international trade rules, opting instead to use "wild west methods."
Also Friday, a report in The Guardian said that a shipment of medical equipment bound for France from Shanghigh was taken by the US instead. In this case, the French official – identified as Valérie Pécresse, president of the hard-hit Île-de-France region – claimed that the US outbid the French by offering three times the price and offering to pay upfront.
“I can’t do that. I’m spending taxpayers’ money and I can only pay on delivery having checked the quality,” Pécresse told BFMTV.
At a press conference last Wednesday, Brazil's Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta stated that many of their attempts to purchase necessary equipment from China had fallen through, allegedly due to US interference, The Guardian reported.
In a statement, a US State Department spokesperson said “We remain concerned about pervasive attempts to divide international efforts through unsourced, unattributed disinformation campaigns,” the Herald reported.
Other countries have also been accused of hoarding and unfairly acquiring supplies. According to reports in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera and Belgian paper Le Soir, Turkish-made masks destined for the two countries never arrived, with Turkey allegedly not only banning exports of protective equipment but going back on exports that had already been paid for.
In a report by local Turkish news outlet Hurriyet, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said that the Turkish government would seize factories if the companies that operated them would not sell materials exclusively to the Turkish Health Ministry.
The reports have sparked panic in the administrations of several countries as the fight against the coronavirus continues to drag on.
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated that the reports were very concerning, The Guardian reported.
“We need to make sure that equipment that is destined for Canada gets to and stays in Canada, and I’ve asked ministers to follow up on these particular reports,” he said, according to The Guardian.
On Monday, Doug Ford, premier of Ontario, Canada's largest province, claimed that the United States had blocked the delivery of three million face masks designed to help fight the coronavirus outbreak.
Ford told Global News the incident had happened over the weekend and described it as "absolutely unacceptable."
Reuters contributed to this report.