At least two companies backed by the Chinese Communist Party have been involved in the mass stockpiling of medical supplies since January of this year. The stockpiled supplies, which were gathered from various countries around the globe, primarily consisted of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and hazmat suits, which was then flown back to China.
The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that at least two Chinese firms were involved, with a whistle-blower from one of the firms, Greenland Australia, saying it was “part of a global effort”.
Greenland Australia, which is largely owned by the Government of Shanghai, acquired 3 million protective masks, 700,000 hazmat suits and 500,000 pairs of protective gloves from a number of countries and flew them back to China over January and February of this year. Those items, according to a company newsletter, came from “Australia, Canada, Turkey, and other countries”.
Risland Australia, which is owned by the Chinese company Country Garden, flew 90 tons of medical equipment to China on the 24th of February.
Health care workers in Australia are currently on the brink of running out of PPE, with hundreds of hospitals having already effectively run out of masks and suspended non-urgent surgeries.
The Guardian reported Dr Chris Moy, president of the South Australian Australian Medical Association, as saying that “it’s my understanding that a lack of PPE was a major issue in Italy” and that, with reports of supply ships of PPE being diverted and price gouging, “we have to do whatever we can to secure supplies”.
Health care professionals, due to their chance of contact with someone infected with COVID-19, are at a high risk of contracting COVID-19, particularly if they are not provided with appropriate PPE. In Ireland 23% of all confirmed cases of COVID-19 are related to health care workers and in Italy 24 doctors have died from COVID-19 in the last two weeks alone.