Prague, March 15 (CTK) – A Czech government plane will fly to Shenzhen, China, for 100,000 rapid coronavirus testers at 05:00 on Monday and return on at 00:40 on Wednesday, PM Andrej Babis (ANO) tweeted today, changing his original information about two planes leaving for China on Sunday.
“The testers are designed for rapid diagnostics in the case of people who show symptoms of a respiration disease and may be infected with new coronavirus. The test’s result is available in 29 minutes,” Babis wrote.
“A military Airbus 319 with our pilots is departing for Shenzhen, China, at five hours tomorrow,” Czech military wrote on Twitter.
Earlier today, Deputy PM and Interior Minister Jan Hamacek (Social Democrats, CSSD) said his ministry has signed contracts on the supply of 1.1. million respirators and five million face masks from China and was negotiating with the Travel Service air carrier to bring the consignment to Czechia by Wednesday.
Furthermore, Babis told Prima TV today, citing Deputy Health Minister Roman Prymula, that a contract for the supply of ten million face masks has been agreed upon by Prague in China, and the supply will arrive in Czechia step by step, the first wave next Saturday at the latest.
The richest Czech Petr Kellner’s PPF group has offered the gift of 120 tonnes of medical equipment to Czechia. It already brought 20,000 protective masks from the USA last week, and is going to hand over 1.8 million surgical masks, 1.7 million N95 respirators and some tester sets to the Czech state in China and Spain. The equipment will be ready for transfer on Monday evening, the transfer to Prague is up to the Czech government, PPF said in a press release.
On Saturday, Babis said he had agreed with Hamacek, with regard to the latter’s good contacts in China, that he will be in charge of the purchase and cooperation.
“The number of offers is enormous, it is a great battle. We have offers from India, Vietnam…It is necessary to order and pay [the goods] immediately,” Babis said, referring to the purchase of testers.
He said another 2,000 testers of a different provenience are to be supplied in addition to those from China.
“The pressure is huge. I understand it that the medical equipment is wanted by everybody, but we have certain priorities and the Health Ministry is dealing with the task,” Babis said.
Furthermore, the state will provide 10,000 respirators from its national material reserves. Their distribution to hospitals and medical rescuers will start on Sunday, the ministers said on Saturday.
On Monday, the state is to get 40,000 respirators from domestic producers. On Thursday and Friday, they will supply further 400,000 and 1.4 million pieces,” Health Minister Adam Vojtech told journalists.
Czechia is trying to buy further millions of respirators in China, which has coped with the epidemic and is offering them to the world.
Agrofert, a giant chemical, agricultural, food and media group which Babis, its owner, transferred to trust funds in 2017 to comply with the conflict of interest law, will donate substances for the production of 500,000 litres of an antiseptic solution to the state, its spokesman Karel Hanzelka said.
The substances are ethanol and glycerine worth 10 million crowns, the price of the transport included. The supplies will start on Monday and the production of the disinfection will be secured by the state, Hanzelka said, adding that Agrofert is ready to increase its aid if needed.