FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany is ramping up efforts to purchase facemasks in an effort to contain the coronavirus, the country’s vice chancellor, Olaf Scholz, told the Anne Will television show on Sunday.

“We need unbelievable amounts of masks. Our entire effort is to procure them. That is where we stand today,” he told the programme which was broadcast on ZDF.

Germany’s efforts to buy masks comes at a time when the United States has stepped up efforts to do the same, prompting complaints about the superpower’s “Wild West” tactics in outbidding buyers who have already signed deals.

Scholz wants to bring production of important medical equipment back to Europe, a step that will make some of these goods more expensive but more accessible, he said.

Scholz further ruled out a cut in income taxes for Germans, given the need for the country to repay economic rescue packages designed to prop up the economy.

(Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Daniel Wallis)