Coronavirus live updates: What you need to know

View More

German army's six million face masks "stolen" in a Nairobi airport

By East Africa correspondent , Garowe Online

NAIROBI, Kenya - Officials from Germany are trying to track a consignment of face masks, reports indicate, which reportedly went missing at a Nairobi airport under unclear circumstances.

The over six million face masks for the German army is said to have gone missing at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport [JKIA], East Africa's arguably biggest airport.

Der Spiegel magazine said the shipment, which was meant for the European country's health workers, was due in Germany on Mar. 20 but was never delivered as anticipated by authorities.

But the magazine did not divulge into more details on how the shipment found it's the way in Nairobi or where Berlin authorities had ordered the consignment from.

“The authorities are trying to find out what happened,” a German defense ministry spokeswoman told the Reuters news agency in relation to the mysterious disappearance.

Another government source is quoted as saying: “Whether this [is] a matter of theft or a provider who isn’t serious, is being cleared up by customs.”

Germany is battling the coronavirus pandemic just like many countries in the world. By Tuesday, over 30,000 people had tested positive with the death toll hitting 130, officials said.

But in Kenya, where the consignment is believed to have been stolen, the country has registered 25 positive COVID-19 cases and no deaths so far. International arrivals and departures have been banned at JKIA.

A statement on Twitter by Kenya Airports Authority [KAA], the government agency in charge of the ports, dispelled claims that the shipment got lost in Nairobi, adding that "thorough investigations" had been done.

"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," reads the tweet.

Adding that the reports were "fake" news, the agency insisted that normal operations at the cargo section will continue uninterrupted. The government didn't ban activities on the cargo section.

"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."

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government had recently ordered nearly €241 million [$262 million] worth of medical masks, other protective equipment, and material to cope up with a potential shortage amid the coronavirus outbreak.

As of Tuesday, over 330,000 positive COVID-19 cases had been reported worldwide with the death toll hitting 16,000. Italy is the worst hit, recording half of the total deaths.

Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary to the State, accused the Communist Party of China of "being economical" with the truth on how the pandemic can be controlled. China was the first to record the cases.

But in recent weeks, the number of new infections has drastically reduced, making Washington DC believe that "China manufactured" the virus. President Donald Trump calls it "Chinese Virus", a statement that has angered Beijing.


Latest headlines