A Chinese city has been accused of stealing face masks bound for its coronavirus-hit neighbour.
Dali, which has only eight confirmed cases of the disease, has been accused of intercepting a shipment of surgical masks headed to the hard-hit municipality of Chongqing, where there are 400 cases.
Chongqing told Dali to give them back but the Dali government said it had already distributed the 598 boxes of masks and therefore could not retrieve them.
Dali drew widespread anger on Chinese social media, with many users accusing the city of theft.
The Dali government laid the blame on two city officials.
One of them, the director of the city health bureau, has been removed from his post, state television reported.
Other state media also reported that Qingdao in Shandong province gave instructions to its customs to hold on to a shipment of masks and other medical products en route to the northeastern city of Shenyang from South Korea.
Qingdao allegedly kept the masks in a tit-for-tat move because it believed Shenyang was holding on to a separate shipment of masks en route to Qingdao, state-controlled China Business News reported, citing internal documents.
But both cities have reportedly since resolved their dispute, with the two shipments on their way to the respective cities.
Hospitals, towns and cities across China are struggling for supplies, particularly protective masks, as cases of infection and the death toll continue to rise.
The death toll from coronavirus rose to 565 deaths and 28,273 confirmed cases of infection around the world.
All but two of the deaths, one in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong, have been in mainland China.
Additional reporting by Reuters