The United States’ recent decision to block the export of critical medical supplies to The Bahamas as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic was not appropriate, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy said this morning.
Those medical supplies, which include 15 ventilators, are expected to be released by U.S. Customs today, according to Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands.
Haigang Yin, the embassy’s spokesman, told The Nassau Guardian, China “would never do that” during a pandemic.
“We don’t think it’s appropriate,” he said.
He added, “We believe that facing the spread of the virus, which is a common enemy to the whole mankind, all the countries need to work together as strongly recommended by the WHO (World Health Organization).
“Countries need to cooperate. Countries need to help their neighbors not block the medical supplies of others. China is doing our best to help those countries in need.
“Although we are still facing some problems domestically, we are still helping others.”
Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump issued a presidential proclamation directing federal authorities to allocate “scarce or threatened” medical supplies for domestic use amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those supplies include N95 masks and other personal protective equipment like surgical masks and gloves.
Yesterday, Sands told The Guardian that the proclamation “has serious implications for The Bahamas and other countries”.
“This is a significant logistics challenge right now,” he said.
“We have been appraised that a number of our shipments could not be cleared through U.S. Customs.”
A U.S. embassy official yesterday defended its government’s move, noting that the United States continues to send “not needed” equipment and supplies to countries like The Bahamas amid the pandemic.
“The United States is taking action to maintain the commitment of the president to the American people,” he said.
“The United States is continuing to send equipment and supplies not needed domestically to many other countries, including The Bahamas, and we will continue to do more as we are able.”
There are 41 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas.
So far, eight people, who tested positive for the virus, have died.