Shipment of protective suits . via Twitter

Prague acquires respirators from China, despite breaking sister city agreement with Beijing

Prague City Hall is working on its own to get protective equipment from both foreign and domestic sources

Prague City Hall has been acquiring respirators and other protective gear on its own, in addition to what it gets from the Czech state to combat novel coronavirus. The city is also seeking to work with domestic suppliers as much as possible due to international uncertainty.

The city has received a shipment of respirators and protective suits from China. Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) criticized government officials went to Václav Havel Airport to thank Chinese officials for the first large shipment that arrived March 20.

“We just received an order of 130,000 FFP2 respirators and 500 units of protective suits. Now they will go to those who need them. Note: The protective equipment was purchased from [a dealer in] China. But it arrived without a welcoming of the shipment at the airport. It’s just business. You don’t have to have a nonsensical ‘one-China’ clause in a city-to-city contract, and you can still trade with China,” Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) said on Facebook.

Prague backed out of a sister city agreement with Beijng in October 2019 due to its inclusion of an acknowledgment of China’s policy that it has sovereignty over Taiwan. After splitting with Beijing, Prague signed a sister city agreement with Taiwan’s capital Taipei.

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Hřib at the end of last week said that health and social services workers will exhaust the protective equipment that the Ministry of Health has delivered to the capital within a few days.

“I would also like to add that these 130,000 respirators are almost the same number that Prague has received from the state (158,000). So we are not just relying on what comes, but we are providing our own front-line supplies for Praguers,” he added.

The mayor also wants to cooperate with local manufacturers. “Now, of course, we are dealing with other orders from abroad, but we have also addressed domestic manufacturers. I overheard that someone might find it too complicated for the state to take protective equipment from dozens of Czech manufacturers by tens of thousands. It doesn’t seem so complicated to me. We’ve been working on it for a long time! And if we happen to miss someone, feel free to send offers for Prague directly to me,” he said.

In another Facebook post, he thanked the Czech Technical University in Prague (ČVUT) for creating reusable respirators that meet the FFP3 requirements. “It turns out that here we have great clever people and there is no need to just import everything from abroad. … We will keep you informed about the news,” he said.

Prague Deputy Petr Hlubuček (United Force for Prague) said another shipment of up to a million respirators ordered should arrive April 7, but under current circumstances nothing is certain.

“We are trying to diversify the sources of protective equipment while exploiting the Czech potential. We prefer domestic products,” Hlubuček said.

Mayor Hřib also thanked the Prague citizens for respecting the government and city regulations for covering the mouth and nose and keeping sufficient distance between people, adding that the spread of coronavirus in Prague has slowed.

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