March 19, 2020 / 6:48 PM / 10 days ago

Slovaks get facemasks, coronavirus tests from China to replenish supplies

FILE PHOTO: Slovakia's Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini visited textile factory Zornica Banko Fashion, which changed its production lines from shirts to produce protective face masks, to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Banovce nad Bebravou, Slovakia on March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Radovan Stoklasa

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - A Slovak government plane with a million surgical facemasks and 100,000 rapid-result tests for the new coronavirus arrived in Bratislava on Thursday to alleviate the shortage faced by local authorities, social and health workers.

Slovakia, a country of 5.5 million, has reported 124 cases of the virus and has taken tough measures including border closures to slow down the spread of the disease.

The plane was inspected by Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini and Interior Minister Denisa Sakova upon landing in a sign of the importance the government assigned to the shipment.

“The crew spent 42 hours on the plane, have brought a shipment we all waited for, and now 1 million facemasks and 100,000 tests for rapid coronavirus detection are being unloaded,” Pellegrini told reporters in a briefing shown on TA3 television.

The country has recorded no deaths from the disease caused by the virus so far.

The government has said it expected more supplies from Turkey to arrive on Friday.

Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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