Releasing a statement, the ministry said on March 21 that they were provided delivery of masks from a Chinese manufacturer.
The report stunned frontline medical staff in the Netherlands who rely on high-quality products to protect them from being infected with the novel coronavirus.
According to the government, half of the shipment of 1.3 million apparently top quality face masks, or known as N95 in the U.S. and Hong Kong, had been distributed to healthcare workers treating the most critical coronavirus patients.
The Netherlands has requested hospitals to return about 600,000 protective masks mported from China. The masks were reportedly not successful at inhibiting coronavirus particles to pass through. They failed to protect the face or did not have defective filters.
The Netherlands recently bought 1.3 million masks imported from China.
According to their statement, the health ministry "received a signal that, upon inspection, the quality of this shipment did not meet the required standards."
"A second test also proved that the face masks did not meet the required quality standards. It has now been decided to stop the use of this entire shipment."
One hospital worker said that when the masks were delivered to their hospital, he immediately rejected them for being faulty. "If those masks do not close properly, the virus particles can simply pass. We do not use them. That is unsafe for our people."
Spain and Turkey also complained of faulty rapid testing kits courtesy of Chinese companies.
Part of the supplies had already been distributed to medical professionals, the health ministry said. The rest of the shipment was urgently put on hold and has not been distributed.
N95 masks, also known as FFP2 in Europe or KN95 in mainland China, play a crucial role in the medical field. Their function stop coronavirus particles to pass through.
European countries have had problems in the past with COVID-19-related medical equipment imported from China.
"The mouth masks that are not satisfactory have been retrieved," according to Holland's Ministry of Health.
The Netherlands, like other European countries, has declared rigid social distancing measures to tackle the spread of COVID-19.
There are 1.3 million masks imported from China.
The fine filters of FFP2 masks should stop the virus from entering the mouth or nose.
A second test also showed that the medical masks did not pass the mandatory quality standards, even though they had a KN95 certification specifying that they are able to filter above 95% of particles.
The nation struggles to keep its infected cases from continuing to increase. The Netherlands had reported 10,866 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 771 fatalities as of Sunday afternoon.
Further shipments would undergo extra testing.
Health Minister Olivier Veran for France has declared that he had ordered more than a billion face masks to be imported from China.