Germany has blocked a shipment of protective breathing masks bound for Switzerland, sparking a diplomatic row between the neighboring countries.
A truckload of 240,000 masks bound for Switzerland was intercepted by German customs agents following Berlin's decision to ban exports of key medical gear amid a growing coronavirus outbreak.
Switzerland's State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has called for Germany to "release the blocked masks immediately," The Local reports.
"SECO said a truck with 240,000 masks on board was commandeered before it left German soil by customs authorities. SECO added that the interception does not appear to be an isolated incident, with all further transports likely to be blocked."
SECO summoned the German ambassador to protest the decision, according to NZZ.
Swiss health care workers are already burning through the country's reserves of protective masks, and have reportedly been instructed to wear them for eight hours instead of two.
Switzerland relies heavily on imports for protective medical gear.
Germany's decision to horde critical supplies has not been well-received by its neighbors.
“It can’t be that Germany is holding back products for Austria just because they happen to be stored in a German location,” said Austrian Economy Minister Margarete Schramboeck.
“These products are for the Austrian market, and unilateral moves by Germany are just causing problems in other countries.”
There are 312 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Switzerland at the time of this writing, and 62 more positive tests which await confirmation.
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