The premier of the Canadian province that sheltered thousands of stranded American airline passengers after the 9/11 attacks said Sunday he’s infuriated that U.S. President Donald Trump banned the export of N95 protective masks to Canada.
Newfoundland Premier Dwight Ball said one of the great lessons in humanity is that in times of crisis you don’t stop being human.
“To say that I’m infuriated by the recent actions of President Trump of the United States is an understatement,” Ball said. “I cannot believe for a second that in a time of crisis that President Trump would even think about banning key medical supplies to Canada.”
Trump announced late Friday he will block exports of 3M company masks from the United States to ensure they are available in the U.S. for use during the coronavirus pandemic. Trump said the U.S. wants the masks and he doesn’t want others getting them.
Ball noted that in 2001, more than 6,600 passengers descended on Gander, Newfoundland, a town of 10,000 without warning as more than 200 flights were diverted to Canada following the attacks on the United States.
Flight crews filled Gander’s hotels, so passengers were taken to schools, fire stations, church halls. The Canadian military flew in 5,000 cots. Stores donated blankets, coffee machines, barbecue grills. Locals gave passengers food, clothes, showers, toys and banks of phones to call home free of charge,.
"Newfoundland and Labrador will never give up on humanity . We will not hesitate for one second if we had to repeat what we did on 9-11. We would do it again,” Ball said.
“This is a time when we need to work together to continue to protect our residents and keep them safe from COVID-19 no mater where they live or what passport they hold."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a more diplomatic approach, saying Sunday he’s confident Canada will still be able to import N95 protective masks from the U.S. despite the export ban and said he will talk to Trump in the coming days.
Trudeau noted Canada supplies the U.S. with many supplies, including pulp for surgical-grade N95 masks, test kits and gloves. Canadian nurses also work in the U.S.
The N95 masks provide more protection against the virus that causes COVID-19 than do ordinary surgical masks. Hospital officials around the world have warned of a dire shortage of masks and other protective gear for health care workers treating infected patients.
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