Finnish official resigns after purchasing faulty masks attributed to China

Head of Finland’s emergency supply agency admits to ordering masks from payday lender, reality TV star

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Managing Director of Finland's National Emergency Supply Agency, Tomi Lounema. (Twitter photo)

Managing Director of Finland's National Emergency Supply Agency, Tomi Lounema. (Twitter photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Managing Director of Finland's National Emergency Supply Agency, Tomi Lounema, resigned over the weekend after he admitted to having spent €10 million (US$11 million) on medical masks that were not up to hospital standards.

On Tuesday (April 7), Finland's Health Minister Aino-Kaisa Pekonen said two million surgical masks shipped from China had turned out to be unsuitable for protecting frontline medical workers from the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), adding it was extremely disappointing that China would supply countries with defective masks amid the pandemic.

China continued to draw international criticism for supplying Finland with faulty protective wear until Lounema admitted Thursday that he had ordered the masks from Onni Sarmaste, a payday lender, and Tina Jylha, a reality TV celebrity, rather than from the Chinese government. Lounema had told reporters in a previous interview that doing business with the Chinese government was a risk, leading people to believe it was China he had purchased the masks from.

During a press conference Friday (April 10), Finnish Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen announced Lounema's decision to resign and said the country had lost its confidence in him. He said Lounema would be replaced by his deputy, Janne Kankanen, who he believes will be a much better fit for the position, reported UDN.

Despite Lounema being at fault for Finland's faulty masks, many countries have been provided with defective medical gear by the Chinese government. Over the past two weeks, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, the UK, and Turkey have all returned Chinese-made personal protective equipment (PPE) and coronavirus test kits after they were found to be sub-par, reported New Talk.