Czech military plane returns with 150,000 rapid coronavirus testing kits from China

The Czech special army plane with 150,000 rapid coronavirus testers from the Chinese city of Shenzhen has landed at Prague-Kbely


Written by ČTK Published on 18.03.2020 09:00:18 (updated on 18.03.2020) Reading time: 3 minutes

Prague, March 18 (CTK) – The Czech special army plane bringing 150,000 rapid coronavirus testers from the Chinese city of Shenzhen landed at Prague-Kbely military airport in small hours today.

The testers will be delivered to distribution spots. They are designated for the inhabitants of the localities that were entirely closed to prevent the coronavirus infection spread, Health Minister Adam Vojtech (for ANO) said.

Besides, the testers will be used for the police, soldiers and firefighters as well as big hospitals.

Two police helicopters transported the rapid testers for healthcare personnel as well as protective means for the police and firefighters in Moravia, while the material to other regions has been transported on the road since early morning hours, the police tweeted.

Prague plans to transport further healthcare material from China in the days to come, mainly respirators, face masks and protective outfits.

Interior Minister Jan Hamacek (junior government Social Democrats, CSSD) said 30 million faces masks for inhabitants should be sent to the Czech Republic aboard a Ruslan Ukrainian large-capacity aircraft.

As soon as the masks are distributed, people will be obliged to wear them, Hamacek said.

Further material is to be transported by private planes. Vojtech signed the respective contracts with the Smartwings and Czech Airlines carriers on Tuesday.

Hamacek told reporters that all necessary permits for the flights should have been processed and the planes may take off today.

The military Airbus A-319 took off from the Kbely military airport to China on Monday morning and had a stopover in Novosibirsk, Russia. It left Shenzhen shortly after 12:00 on Tuesday. Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar (for ANO), Hamacek and Vojtech were waiting for it at the Kbely airport.

The plane was to bring testers for rapid diagnostics in the case of people who showed symptoms of a respiratory disease and may be infected with the new coronavirus.

The test’s result is available in 20-25 minutes, Vojtech said.

As the tests used so far show results in about six hours, the number of tested people should considerably rise now. The first supply landed today and another one is ordered, Vojtech added.

The Health Ministry paid some 14 million crowns for 100,000 testers, while the Interior Ministry covered the costs of further 50,000. The Defence Ministry secured their transport.

If the rapid test shows a positive result, there is a very high probability that this is correct. If the test does not reveal the infection, a “false negative” result is possible. An individual approach will be applied to these patients based on their symptoms, Vojtech said.

The healthcare material was disinfected after the landing and then transferred to the storage facility of the State Material Reserves Administration in Sedlcany, central Bohemia.

The aircraft brought 142 boxes weighing some 6.5 tonnes in total, Metnar said.

PM Andrej Babis (ANO) negotiated the aircraft permit with the Chinese ambassador, he added.

The testers will be distributed to the localities closed over the coronavirus quarantine and to big hospitals. One-third of the supply was sent to the Interior Ministry healthcare facilities to test police and customs officers, soldiers and firefighters. Their rapid testing will prevent problems in the security corps, Hamacek said.

The Czech Republic plans to transport further healthcare material from China by air.

Hamacek has said the Interior Ministry ensured over 30 million face masks, six million respirators, 250,000 pieces of protective gear and further material in China.

The Defence Ministry is working on having the material transported to the Czech Republic by the Ukrainian An-124 Ruslan aircraft, one of the biggest in the world. Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar (for ANO) said. The Czech Republic would hire it within the the NATO’s SALIS (Strategic Airlift International Solution) programme.

Another two flights are planned then

Smartwings and Czech Airlines will secure further flights.

Hamacek said that all formalities should have been processed already, but that he would yet check it this morning. Then the planes can take off, he added.

Seven flights are planned in total, according to previous information.

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