The Philippines' health department on Sunday apologised for comments it made a day earlier that two batches of coronavirus test kits provided by China were substandard.
Undersecretary for health Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Saturday that some of the kits made by BGI Group and Sansure Biotech were only 40 per cent accurate in diagnosing Covid-19 and that some of them would have to be discarded as a result.
China's embassy in Manila rejected those accusations, saying the kits complied with World Health Organisation standards and that they had played "a significant role" in enabling the Philippine government to deal with the Covid-19 epidemic.
"The quality of the 2,000 test kits from BGI Group, and 100,000 nucleic acid test kits from Sansure Biotech … is very good and there does not exist any accuracy problem," it said.
The embassy described the health department's comments as irresponsible and said they could lead to public misunderstanding and disturb cooperative efforts in fighting the disease.
The Philippines on Sunday apologised for the comments and acknowledged that the quality of the test kits did meet global standards.
"The Department of Health wishes to clarify that the initial 2,000 BGI RT-PCR test kits and the 100,000 Sansure RT-PCR test kits donated by the Chinese government have been assessed by the RITM to be on a par with test kits provided by the World Health Organisation," it said.
The comments made in its earlier statement referred to another brand of test kits that had been donated from another source, it said.
Chinese tabloid Global Times said in a commentary piece on Sunday that Beijing should improve its quality control with regards to exports of medical equipment and not cover for firms that produce substandard products.
But it also called for nations to remain calm and not politicise the issue. Foreign governments should buy products only from companies recommended by the Chinese embassy in their jurisdiction, it said.
The dispute between the China and the Philippines came just a day after Chinese biotech company Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology promised to replace a batch of substandard test kits it had provided to Spain.
The Spanish Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology said earlier that Bioeasy's nose swabs had an accuracy rate of less than 30 per cent.
In its defence, the Chinese embassy in Madrid said Bioeasy was not on an approved vendor list agreed by Beijing and Madrid.
Meanwhile, the Dutch health ministry said on Saturday it had recalled 600,000 of the 1.3 million face masks manufactured in China because they failed to meet safety requirements.
Tests found that the masks - some of which had already been distributed to hospitals - failed to close over the face properly and had defective filters. Agence France-Presse reported.
Despite the occasional hiccup, China continues to ship its medical supplies and expertise around the world in support of the global battle against Covid-19.
On Saturday, a team of 15 experts and 17.5 tonnes of medical supplies set off for Britain, which is facing a growing caseload of infections that includes Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles.
Beijing also dispatched medical teams and supplies to Laos and Pakistan over the weekend, while others are already working in Iran, Iraq, Cambodia, Italy and Serbia.
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