The Trump administration wants to halt the export of respirators to Canada and Latin American countries, one of the leading manufacturers of the life-saving protective equipment said Friday.
Minnesota-based 3M, which makes the N95 masks used by front-line health-care workers who are battling the coronavirus, issued a stark warning after U.S. President Donald Trump invoked the country’s defence production and blasted the company on Twitter.
In a statement Friday, the company said halting the exports would be wrong and likely force other countries to retaliate in a similar manner — something that would make the already tight supply of personal protective equipment in the U.S. even more tight.
“There are … significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to health-care workers in Canada and Latin America, where we are a critical supplier of respirators,” the company said.
3M secured 10 million masks from China facility
China has already tightened export regulations around medically necessary personal protective equipment, and 3M said that through careful cooperation with Washington, it has managed to secure 10 million masks out of its Chinese facility.
It said it has worked diligently to increase production for the American market since the pandemic began.
The lack of personal equipment for hospital staff has been a major issue for the Canadian government, and was among the top concerns discussed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the premiers in a video conference Thursday night.
Quebec’s premier revealed this week that the province had burned through almost a year’s worth of supplies, including masks, in just the last few weeks.
The federal government has scrambled to help provinces get the equipment they need with major shipments arriving this week.