The Greenland Group is a real estate company operating in Australia. Majority-owned by the Chinese government, the business has sold over a billion dollars worth of residential apartments since it launched in the country in 2013. However, the company was recently engaged in an activity not at all in line with its business — buying up essential medical supplies necessary to combat the coronavirus and shipping them to China.
“Basically all employees, the majority of whom are Chinese, were asked to source whatever medical supplies they could… There were numerous requests from the HR manager and even our direct reporting line [which] prioritised the assisting of the company in gathering these supplies over other work activities,” a whistleblower from the company said to The Sydney Morning Herald. Thousands of face masks, hand sanitizers, antibacterial wipes, thermometers, Panadol (a brand of acetaminophen), and gloves were collected from all across Australia.
The company even posted about this effort on their social media page with pictures showing people packing the supplies. In total, about 3 million protective masks, 500,000 pairs of protective gloves, and 700,000 hazmat suits were purchased from countries like Australia, Turkey, Canada, etc., and sent to China. The entire collection and shipment process was conducted in January and February.
Some parts of Australia are currently experiencing a shortage of face masks and other supplies. If the government had been proactive, they could have prevented Greenland from shipping out such large quantities of medical supplies from the country. On February 14, Australia only had 15 cases of CCP coronavirus infection. But now, more than 5,400 Australians have contracted the virus. The administration is now in talks with the private sector to make up the shortage in face mask supplies.
Chris Freeman, National President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, has called on businesses to keep the prices of face masks fair and not take advantage of the scarcity by charging a higher price. “While they might be able to turn a quick profit in the short term, what we may end up with is a situation where people who genuinely do need the masks then have not got access to them… Typically, they’re less than 50 cents in most cases for an individual supply, with the higher-level mask — the P2 mask and the N95… a little bit more expensive. Four or five dollars, typically,” he said to 9Now.
Chinese face masks
China seems to have turned even the CCP coronavirus into a business opportunity by securing massive supply orders. France has ordered 1 billion face masks from China. The French production capacity is 8 million masks per week. However, the country urgently needs 40 million to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.
On the flipside, the government of the Netherlands recently recalled about 600,000 face masks manufactured in China as the items did not meet its standards. “When they were delivered to our hospital, I immediately rejected those masks… If those masks do not close properly, the virus particles can simply pass. We do not use them… That is unsafe for our people,” a hospital worker stated, as reported by Business Insider.
Meanwhile, researchers from the University of Oxford have started enrolling people in clinical trials for their potential coronavirus vaccine. Almost 500 volunteers will participate in the first phase of the tests. The trial has been approved by ethical reviewers and UK regulators.