The Czech Republic is donating 500,000 face masks to Italy to support healthcare workers. Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch (ANO) announced it during the daily government press conference.
Italy will receive the shipment this week.
Italy is one of the countries most affected by coronavirus, with 212,000 cases and 29,000 deaths.
Italy registered the lowest daily number of coronavirus-related deaths since just after its lockdown started two months ago. Both the number of new infections and patients in intensive care have continued to fall.
The country is relaxing its lockdown from Monday when Italians will be able to exercise as long as they respect rules on maintaining a physical distance. They will also be able to visit relatives – but not friends – within their region.
However, schools, cinemas, and most shops will stay shut. Bars and restaurants are due to start allowing customers to sit at tables in June.
On March 23, the Italian daily La Repubblica reported that Czech authorities seized Chinese masks intended for Italian hospitals under the guise of a sting against traffickers.
A few days later, the Czech Republic sent 110,000 of the much-needed protective items to Rome as compensation for the snafu, according to a report.
“We’ve just sent 110,000 face masks to Italy by bus heading to Rome… along with 43 Italian tourists who could not get back home,” Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek told Agence France-Presse.
Interior Minister Jan Hamacek later acknowledged on Twitter that “unfortunately, after further investigation, it turned out that a smaller part of this seizure was a Chinese donation to Italy.”