Germany’s Merkel drawn into controversy over face masks for homeless



Germany’s Merkel drawn into controversy over face masks for homeless

German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her Minister of Health at a party meeting on Monday amid controversy over the delivery of face masks to the homeless and people with disabilities.

“We all support (Minister of Health) Jens Spahn.

“The charges against him were not based on facts,” said Merkel, according to sources at a meeting of his center-right Christian Democrats (CDU).

Armin Laschet, a frontrunner to succeed Merkel as chancellor after the September elections, used the controversy to attack the Social Democrats (SPD), who had led criticism of Spahn.

The center-left SPD is the CDU’s current coalition partner, but the two parties are campaigning against each other ahead of the national elections in September.

The SPD sought to undermine Spahn with a “negative campaign,” Laschet said at the CDU meeting.

On Sunday, Spahn called reports of the distribution of uncertified masks to vulnerable groups scandalous.

Opposition politicians, including the SPD, criticized Spahn after news magazine Der Spiegel reported the government was seeking use for uncertified masks left behind by a flurry of orders in the first wave of infections in 2020.

Spahn himself was forced to stand firm on the issue on Monday, but also pointed the finger at another ministry, led by the SPD.

“The ideal of distributing a special contingent of masks to the homeless and the disabled was, moreover, an idea of ​​the Ministry of Labor itself,” Spahn said ahead of the CDU meeting.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is headed by Hubertus Heil, from the SPD.

The masks had been checked for their ability to protect against infection, which Spahn described as the deciding factor but had not received EU accreditation, he said.

Millions of masks of the same type have been distributed and used across Germany, Spahn said. (dpa / NAN)


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