The Minister of Health in Barbados, Lt. Col Jeffrey Bostic, has allegedly accused the United States of “seizing” 20 ventilators that were set to be exported to the Caribbean nation as part of efforts to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to The Miami Herald, Bostic made the allegations when he was providing an update on the ventilators compatriot and singer, Rihanna, had donated to the island nation during a national briefing on Sunday.
“Those ventilators were actually stopped in the United States, the exportation of those 20 ventilators,” he said. “Ventilators are one of the most in-demand items in the world today and Barbados is merely wrestling with the other 203 countries and territories around the world seeking to secure as many of these pieces of equipment as possible.”
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Later during the briefing, Bostic clarified the seized ventilators weren’t the ones donated by the Grammy award-winning songstress but were rather acquired by a philanthropist. He said five of the Fenty Beauty founder’s donated ventilators are due to arrive next week.
Bostic, however, later backtracked on his allegations, telling the Daily Nation “’seize’ might not have been the correct word.”
“It has to do with export restrictions being placed on certain items,” he said, adding that they were liaising with the United States Embassy to figure out how to get the ventilators into the country.
Barbados isn’t the first country to accuse the Trump administration of intercepting and diverting medical supplies meant to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Berlin officials alleged on Friday that 200,000 N95 masks that was ordered from American company, 3M, and was being imported to the country from China, was intercepted and rather diverted to the United States, with the city’s interior minister, Andreas Geisel, calling it “an act of modern piracy,” Der Tagesspiegel reports.
“This is not how you deal with transatlantic partners,” Geisel said. “Even in times of global crisis, there should be no wild-west methods.”
A French official from the Île-de-France, Valérie Pécresse, also alleged they could not close a deal for medical masks to be transported to the region after Americans outbid them.
“I found a stock of masks that was available and Americans – I’m not talking about the American government – but Americans, outbid us,” Pécresse told BFMTV, according to The Guardian. “They offered three times the price and they proposed to pay upfront. I can’t do that. I’m spending taxpayers’ money and I can only pay on delivery having checked the quality. So we were caught out.”
Responding to the seized medical exports, a spokesperson from the State Department told The Miami Herald those reports might be inaccurate.
“We remain concerned about pervasive attempts to divide international efforts through unsourced, unattributed disinformation campaigns,” the spokesperson said.