Barely a month before Europe embarked on a scramble for masks, ventilators and testing kits to fight coronavirus, governments told Brussels their healthcare systems were ready and there was no need to order more stocks, according to EU documents seen in exclusivity by Reuters.
“Things under control,” a European Commission official said at a closed-door meeting with diplomats from member states on Feb. 5, two weeks after China locked down nearly 60 million people in Hubei province, or roughly the population of Italy.
“There is strong level of preparedness in member states, most have measures in place” to detect and treat COVID-19, the official said, relaying comments from national envoys, according to minutes of the meeting seen by Reuters.
This rosy assessment is in stark contrast to the shortages of masks and medical equipment just a few weeks later, when the European Commission estimated needs across EU states to be 10 times higher than would usually be available.
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