A shipment by the German army of six million face masks required for protection against the deadly coronavirus has vanished in Nairobi airport, Kenya. The defence ministry in Berlin confirmed the loss of the huge shipment on March 24 and said that they are “trying to find out what happened” to the protective equipment meeting the FFP2 standard for protection against particles and aerosols.
According to international reports, the masks had gone missing at a Kenyan airport at the end of last week. However, it was not immediately clear why the shipment transitted through the east African country. The German army’s procurement office which is usually plagued with equipment shortages and breakdowns in normal times is currently providing the health ministry with logistical support during the pandemic.
The shipment was due to arrive in Europe’s largest economy on March 20, the now missing shipment was also one of the first major deliveries that were required by the German health system to combat the fatal COVID-19 which has already claimed at least 130 lives and has reported more than 30,000 confirmed infections. Citing official sources, German media wrote that since the shipment was supposed to be one of the biggest assets for Germany’s fight against coronavirus, its loss is “more than irritating” German health care workers.
While losing masks became a significant concern for German authorities, the World Health Organisation's Southeast Asia division, on March 23, said that COVID-19 did not spread airborne. However, it said that there has been a reported possibility of such transmissions in enclosed spaces and with prolonged exposures in hospitals. This comes as the deadly virus has infected 3,92,336 people and killed 17,147 people across the globe.
Explaining the transmission further, Dr Poonam Khetarpal Singh, regional director, WHO Southeast Asia said that cases of airborne spread have not been reported yet, however, based on the information that they have received and with their experience with other coronaviruses, COVID-19 appeared to spread mostly through respiratory droplets and close contact. Speaking further she said, that it was why WHO recommends hand and respiratory hygiene.