6m Germany face masks never vanished in Kenya: KAA

The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has disputed reports that a German Army shipment of six million face masks to protect against the coronavirus has vanished at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), terming the reports as “fake news”.

The claims were first made by the German News outlet Spiegel Online which reported that the masks went missing at a Kenyan airport at the end of last week.

In its report, the newspaper quoted a German Defence Ministry spokeswoman in Berlin who said they were trying to “find out what happened” to the massive order of protective equipment meeting the FFP2 standard for protection against particles and aerosols.

“Our investigation has concluded that there was no cargo of this nature that has passed through JKIA for the last two weeks and no missing cargo has been reported to the authorities,” KAA said in a statement.

“We, therefore, wish to inform the public that we are treating this report of alleged disappearance of six million type FFP2 protective masks as fake news and that our cargo section continues with normal operations,” the authority went on.

The FFP2 masks, which filter out more than 90 per cent of particles, were allegedly ordered by German customs authorities and Germany Armed Forces procurement officers.

The shipment was due in Germany on March 20 but never arrived after allegedly disappearing in Kenya.

However, the German news outlet did not give any information on how the masks, produced by a German firm, found its way to Kenya.

The German Defence ministry spokeswoman said there was no financial impact from the loss of the masks as no money had been paid, Reuters reported.

Both the National Police Service Spokesperson Charles Owino and the Government Spokesperson Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna had not responded to queries on the issue by the time of going to press.

The alarming news, which was carried out in various media outlets across the world, comes at a time when there is a biting shortage of face masks and testing kits, which is threatening to hinder the fight against Covid-19.

To plug the shortages, the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority chief executive Jonah Manjari announced that the government has banned local manufacturers and distributors from exporting N95 and 3 ply surgical masks “to ensure that the country has enough stocks as part of its emergency plan.”

The decision followed another order issued earlier this month in which the government banned export of respirator masks.

Tuesday, Kenya received 20,000 Covid-19 testing kits, face masks and other assorted protective equipment donated by Chinese business magnate Jack Ma.

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