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Pirates of COVID-19 ERA

On March 23rd, Tunisian Trade Minister Mohamed Msilini said that a ship loaded with medical alcohol intended for the manufacture of hydroalcoholic gel had been hijacked while at sea.

“What happened to this shipment is similar to the Czechs stealing a cargo of medical face masks that China sent to Italy to help combat the coronavirus,” explained Mohamed Msilini in a televised comments.

“Today, all European countries are hysterical, and all of them are stealing equipment for fear of this virus.”

On March 14th, China announced its intention to send sterile and antiseptic masks and other materials to reinforce the efforts taken by Tunisia to curb the spread of the pandemic.

On March 23rd, the government in Tunis announced the deployment of army units across the country to support security efforts during the nationwide quarantine, which was imposed on March 22nd.

As mentioned by Msilini, Czech authorities had seized 110,000 masks, with some report even up to 680,000, as well as respirators, which China had sent to Italy.

After appropriate steps by the Italian Foreign Ministry, the Italian embassy in Prague said that the Czech authorities have undertaken to return the medical material sent from Beijing and destined for Rome for help and solidarity.

The note from the Italian diplomatic office in Prague said:

“This morning the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Tomas Petricek, informed Ambassador Nisio that, pending the conclusion of the investigation by the Czech police on the theft of the medical material that took place in Lovosice, the Czech Republic will send 110 thousand masks from its own stocks to Italy as soon as possible, in numbers equal to those which should have reached our country and which instead have been stolen and seized by the Czech authorities.”

“The cargo will leave within 48 hours,” continued the embassy note, and explained further:

“In the face of the urgent need for medical supplies, the Czech government, in close collaboration with the Italian embassy in Prague, has decided to send immediately the load destined for our country without waiting for the conclusion of the investigation still in progress, and focused on finding out how the large stolen property was stolen and where. The complexity of the case, which branches off to other countries, would require days, but the situation in Italy does not allow for waiting”.

The statement then announces “Minister Tomas Petricek is writing a personal letter to the Italian Foreign Minister Italy Di Maio”.

The initial version was that Czech authorities thought that the supplies were being “smuggled” by organized crime groups to be sold for profit in the country, despite the numerous stickers and writings of support for Italy by China.

Similarly, in Ukraine, it appeared that 750,000 coronavirus tests had vanished, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office attempted to shift the responsibility to the regional elites.

“The media of the Presidential Office, obviously confident in their genius, began to rock the topic that now the entire regional elite – the governors, police chiefs and the SBU – will immediately grab the tests that arrived at night for themselves and their friends,” Alexander Dubinsky, a member of the Servant of the People and a member of Ukrainian parliament, wrote on his blog.

According to him, the president’s office even compiles relevant lists. Thus, the current government is trying to divert attention from the fact that “insignificantly few” tests arrived in Ukraine.

“That 750 thousand tests disappeared somewhere along the way, and that each region received only miserable crumbs from needs, which will last only a few days,” the MP explained.

Prior to that, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky recorded a video message to the citizens of the country, in which he promised the delivery from China of ten million tests from China, “which will be distributed across all corners of Ukraine.”