The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has denied allegations that at least six million face masks destined for Germany were stolen at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport while in transit last week.
A Tuesday report by Reuters said German customs officials were attempting to track down the six million face masks ordered to protect health workers from the coronavirus.
“The authorities are trying to find out what happened,” said a defence ministry spokeswoman, confirming a report first published by Spiegel Online.
The FFP2 masks, which filter out more than 90% of particles, were ordered by German customs authorities. They and the armed forces procurement office have been helping the health ministry to get hold of urgently needed protective gear.
The shipment was due in Germany on March 20 but never arrived after disappearing at the end of last week at an airport in Kenya, Reuters reported. It was unclear why the masks, produced by a German firm, had been in Kenya.
“What exactly happened, whether this is a matter of theft or a provider who isn’t serious, is being cleared up by customs,” said a government source.
And now, KAA in a Tuesday evening press statement, said no cargo destined for Germany was stolen at the JKIA in the last two weeks as alleged.
“Following media reports that a German army shipment of 6 million masks meant for protection against COVID-19 virus vanished at JKIA last week, KAA has conducted an investigation into the matter,” said KAA on Twitter.
“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. 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,” said KAA.
Health ministry had earlier declined to give Reuters a comment on the alleged disappearance.
Spiegel Online reported that Germany had placed orders worth 241 million euros with suppliers for protective and sanitary equipment to fight the coronavirus.
The defence ministry spokeswoman said there was no financial impact from the loss of the masks as no money had been paid.
Germany is preparing its hospitals and health workers for a big increase in admissions of patients with the virus. It has 27,436 confirmed coronavirus cases and 114 people have died, the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said.