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Feds to update efforts to procure COVID-19-related protective equipment

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during his daily news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic outside his residence at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA — The federal government will update Canadians today on the results of the mad scramble to procure personal protective equipment _ just as demand is poised to skyrocket with more people returning to work and public health officials preparing for a potential second wave of COVID-19 infections.

As of May 19, data posted by Public Services and Procurement Canada showed only a fraction of the millions of gloves, masks, face shields, ventilators and litres of hand sanitizer ordered by the federal government had so far been received.

For example, of 29,570 ventilators ordered, only 203 had been received.

When it comes to the coveted N95 respirator mask that’s the standard-issue covering for the heath-care profession, upwards of 104 million have been ordered but just less than 12 million received and, of those, 9.8 million didn’t meet Canadian standards.

The equipment has been in high demand worldwide, with every country competing for scarce supplies from a limited number of suppliers, mostly in China. In what’s been described as a “wild west” battle, some confirmed orders have been snatched out from under Canada’s nose by other countries willing to pay more.

Even so, officials argue that the federal government has so far been able to deliver everything that the provinces and territories have requested.

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