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Counterfeit N95 masks could have been given to health care workers: Ministry of Health

Last Updated Feb 26, 2021 at 2:57 pm EDT

File photo of a 3M mask. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

The Ontario Ministry of Health says some N95 respirators distributed to health care workers may have been counterfeit and officials are now trying to assure they are removed from the provincial stockpile.

The Ministry says mask maker 3M has advised the province that N95 models 8210, 1860, 1860S and 1870+ may be affected.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the ministry has alerted health system partners to ensure they (affected models) are no longer used. We will continue to work with these partners until we are confident that the N95s in question have been removed from use in the system.”

The problem of counterfeit personal protective equipment seems to be growing. In a release, the province said 3M has received more reports of potential counterfeit products in the month of February alone than throughout the entire first wave of the pandemic.

“The Ministry of Health is urgently reviewing all inventory in its warehouses to identify any affected product. We have also alerted our federal partners at Health Canada of the situation by 3M and have been working with them to address the issue,” a Ministry spokesperson said.

3M Canada president, Penny Wise, released a statement acknowledging the increased fraud related to its products in Canada.

“These have included reports of fake/counterfeit product as well as fraudulent offers where product is offered but not delivered,” Wise said. “We have been working with law enforcement to eliminate this fraud as part of a global effort to combat fraud and price gouging and help protect the public against those who try and exploit the demand for critical 3M products during the pandemic.

“Counterfeit products may not meet the rigorous quality standards that our authentic 3M respirators are subject to, and put the lives of those battling this pandemic at risk.”