An Ontario government source said that 500,000 medical masks, not three million, held at the US border on Sunday amid the coronavirus pandemic have been released.
The clarification comes after Ontario Premier Doug Ford gave media interviews saying that three million essential personal protective equipment had been prevented from entering the province at the US border.
This follows a statement last week from medical supply company 3M that the Trump administration was trying to stop the export of N95 respirators to Canada and Latin America as the coronavirus pandemic worsened.
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Trump calls on medical supply company 3M to stop sales of N95 respirators in Canada
Earlier Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refused to confirm the shipment was blocked, saying only that Canadian officials are continuing discussions with US officials on the situation.
“We work closely with all provinces and monitor the levels of personal protective equipment and the challenges they face,” said Trudeau at his daily press conference.
“We continue to have productive and positive conversations with the United States, emphasizing to them that health care supplies and workers across the border are essentially a two-way street.”
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says he expects US equipment shipments to be delivered
Ford said Monday morning that a shipment of three million medical masks from the province on Sunday had been stranded at the border on the way to Canada.
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“We arrested three million masks at the border this weekend as we approach Canada. This is unacceptable. Absolutely unacceptable for them to do this, “Ford said in an interview with Global News.
“I hope we will work on it and get an exemption for Canada. “
As a result, Ford said the province now expects to run out of masks and other personal protective equipment for healthcare workers next week.
Trudeau said Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne raised the issue of not blocking medical supplies with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday morning.
“We expect these supplies to be delivered,” said Trudeau.
A federal government official commenting on the background told Global News that he was unaware that the United States was blocking federal shipments, but noted that most orders for federal supplies came from China.
Coronavirus outbreak: Ford finds “unacceptable” Trump orders 3M to stop exporting N95 masks to Canada
On Friday, Ford and provincial health care professionals shared modeling of how the coronavirus could hit Ontarians in the next two years.
This modeling suggests that 1,600 Ontarians may have died by the end of the month, including 3,000 to 15,000 dead within 18 months to two years.
Ford used the numbers to urge Ontarians to stay at home and exercise a strict physical distance.
The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 1.2 million people worldwide and killed 70,356 people.
In Canada, there are so far 15,496 confirmed cases and 280 deaths.
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