No, video doesn’t show FBI seizing coronavirus-infected face masks sent from China

A video of US Federal Bureau of Investigation agents carrying boxes of N95 face masks out of a house and loading them into a truck was posted on Facebook on 3 April 2020.

“FBI taken back all the face mask from China tested positive of Coronavirus Covid 19,” the caption reads. “These are the same mask that China sent to Africa. God save us.”

The video, shared in South Africa, has been viewed more than 6.6 million times. And 603 Facebook users have so far reported it as potentially false.

Does it show the FBI “taking back” infected face masks sent from China?

FBI confiscated masks from hoarder

N95 masks are more strictly respirators and surgical masks, used by medical workers as personal protective equipment (PPE) when they care for infected patients. The World Health Organization has warned that there is a worldwide shortage of PPE that may put health workers in danger during the coronavirus pandemic.

The masks in the video were not seized because they had “tested positive” for the coronavirus. 

As this correctly captioned video states, the masks were confiscated, along with other medical supplies, from a man who was allegedly hoarding them in New York city.

The man had stored more medical supplies in a warehouse, which was also raided by the FBI. He was suspected to have hoarded roughly 80,000 N95 masks, along with other surgical masks, medical gloves, hand sanitisers and cleaning supplies.

The US Department of Justice announced that around 192,000 N95 masks confiscated from hoarders would be distributed to medical workers, along with other confiscated medical supplies.

The New York man was arrested and charged with assault after coughing on FBI agents and telling them that he was infected with Covid-19. He has also been charged with making false statements after denying that he had hoarded medical supplies, which he was allegedly selling to hospitals at around 700% of the normal price.

South Africa receives masks from China

The Facebook post claims that the masks shown in the video “are the same mask that China sent to Africa”. 

South Africa has received medical supplies from the Chinese government. As of 14 April 2020, they included about 10,000 N95 masks.

But there is no evidence that these masks are contaminated. Health minister Zweli Mkhize has said: “All in all, there have been no hitches with the consignments that are coming from China.” – Keegan Leech


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