The Czech Ministry of the Interior paid 708 million CZK to the Chinese company Eastern Air Logistics for 49 flights transporting protective equipment during the state of emergency.
Facing an acute shortage of protective gear for medical staff in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, the government reached a deal to buy masks and other equipment from China, where the virus first emerged.
The data was provided by the Ministry of the Interior on the basis of the Act on Free Access to Information, Zdopravy.cz wrote today.
The total amount does not include the Ruslan cargo and the transport of material from China by Smartwings and CSA.
The Ministry of the Interior also paid for the last Antonov An-124 cargo plane with medical supplies from Shenzhen to Pardubice. The state paid 18.9 million CZK to Volga Dnepr.
Since March 20, aircraft have carried around 2,000 tons of respirators and other materials from China to the Czech Republic.
On May 4, the Czech Interior Minister and Central Crisis Staff head Jan Hamáček thanked all those who participated in the mission, especially the firefighters and police officers who helped unload and distribute the materials.
On Saturday shortly before midnight, a large Ukrainian aircraft An-124 Ruslan landed at Pardubice Airport with five million masks, two million respirators, 120,000 protective suits, 80,000 protective goggles, and tens of thousands of coronavirus tests from Shenzhen, China.
The flight cost 35 million crowns. According to the Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch, it is one of the largest transports of medical material in the history of the Czech Republic.
According to the Minister of the Interior, three flights with similar loads should land two more times, on Tuesday and Friday.
From China, the aircraft flew through Myanmar, Bangladesh, India and refueled in Karachi. The reason for this route is the tense relations between Ukraine and Russia.
Masks and respirators from China will not remain in the warehouse for a long time. “They will be distributed immediately by the fire brigade,” said Martin Netolický, Governor of the Pardubice Region. Firefighters will allocate 35 cars and 75 people for the distribution.
“We are finally getting to the point when a relatively large number of respirators and masks are entering the Czech Republic. We can equip healthcare workers, but also the population,” said Roman Prymula.
— Jan Hamáček (@jhamacek) March 21, 2020
On Wednesday, a Czech aircraft landed in Prague-Kbely, carrying 150,000 testings kit for the coronavirus disease COVID-19.
On Friday, a planeload with one million respirators has arrived in the Czech Republic from China.
The deliveries have cost the Interior Ministry 1.5 billion crowns so far.
The projection is that with every new week that the epidemic lasts the country will spend another billion crowns on medical equipment.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic reached 995 on Saturday, with 106 new cases registered that day.
Sixive people have fully recovered from COVID-19.