Multiple shipments of medical supplies have been blocked from reaching Switzerland by the governments of Germany and France.
Paris and Berlin have imposed export bans on key medical items, such as respiratory masks, ignoring orders from the European Commission to keep trade lines open with European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member states, such as Switzerland, during the coronavirus pandemic.
"The EU Commission has instructed the EU countries to no longer block supplies of protective material to Switzerland. But in the crisis, the power word from Brussels counts little," Aagauer Zeitung reports.
A French supplier recently informed Swiss buyers he was unable to fulfill their purchase request for protective masks, citing the current export ban.
Similarly, a shipment of 240,000 masks bound for Switzerland was halted and held by German authorities for two weeks before the trucks were eventually forced to return to the main customs office in Mönchengladbach for reprocessing.
Switzerland's State Secretariat for Economic Affairs says the country is "necessarily dependent on imports from Germany and France, among others."
"It is of utmost importance for the economy that trade continues to function. In principle, the understanding between Switzerland and the EU in this difficult situation is good.”
Swiss officials are working around the clock to secure critical medical supplies as hospitals and clinics are already facing shortages and rationing.
Residents in possession of private mask stockpiles have been asked to donate all they can to retirement and nursing homes.
Switzerland has nearly 10,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus at the time of this writing.
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