China sends more medical aid after Czech president appeals for help in its fight against COVID-19
Czech President Milos Zeman has expressed gratitude to China for its support to help contain COVID-19 pandemic, as more medical supplies from China arrived in Prague.
Addressing the nation on Thursday, Zeman said one of the key challenges which the country now faces is the shortage of medical supplies.
"I would therefore like to thank the People's Republic of China, which was the only country that has helped us deliver these supplies," he said.
The president said his country has decided to send seven aircraft to China. The first shipment of rapid testers has already returned home, he said, referring to the 150,000 COVID-19 test kits delivered to the country on Wednesday (March 18).
On Friday, a plane from China carrying more than one million face masks landed in Prague. The shipment contains 1.1 million FFP2 respirators which will be distributed immediately to hospitals and other places, Interior Minister Jan Hamacek told reporters at the airport.
On Saturday, the Czech government expects another China Eastern plane with millions of face masks and an An-124 Ruslan cargo plane carrying over 100 tons of medical material from China. Hamacek said he expected three planes with medical material to arrive from China every week for at least the next six weeks.
Schools, pubs, theaters, cinemas and other facilities are closed across the Czech Republic, a country with 10.7 million people, which has registered 774 confirmed cases of the virus with three cured patients and no deaths.
Zeman said that he fully supported the government in tightening its measures to curb the pandemic and asked people to follow the regulations. He warned people to avoid two extremes – indifference to the virus, and panic.
Earlier on Thursday, new measures announced on Wednesday went into effect, including mandatory wearing of face masks in public, medical checks for cross-border workers, and seniors-only shop access between the hours of 10:00 and 12:00. Starting Friday, border crossings will need stamps.
(Cover: Czech Republic President Milos Zeman attends a press conference at the Serbia Palace in Belgrade, Serbia, September 11, 2019. /AP)