PRAGUE — A Prague-based Jewish foundation said Friday it had started to ship medical material to the Jewish community in New York to help it fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.
With over 76,000 coronavirus deaths, the United States is the world’s worst-hit country, with New York being the most heavily affected region.
“The first 150-kilogram [330-pound] batch left on Thursday,” Aaron Gunsberger from the Hatikva Josefov foundation told AFP.
Gunsberger hit upon the idea of sending help to New York while soliciting aid for the Czech Jewish community, including elderly Holocaust survivors and their relatives at high risk from coronavirus complications.
For donations, he contacted Czech companies operating with kosher certificates.
“The United States is the biggest market for many of them, so I thought they might want to do the right thing when the New York community has been bringing them money for years,” he added.
Companies provided money and face masks or shields that will be flown to New York by the DHL transport company, which has donated 150 kilograms of freight space on its planes.
“Getting the money and the material was a piece of cake, but the procedure” was difficult, said Gunsberger, highlighting problems with securing permits to ship the goods.
The Hatikva Josefov foundation also plans to send FFP2-type respirators used by medical staff to New York next week. Respirators are worn to protect people from airborne germs or pollutants — they are not ventilators, which are machines that help patients breathe.
“We were granted a limit of 3,000 units. There are still restrictions on exports from the EU,” said Gunsberger, who expects to dispatch a batch a month from now on.
Hatikva Josefov — Hatikva being Israel’s national anthem and Josefov the Jewish quarter in Prague — is also seeking donations from individuals via its Facebook page.
The Czech Republic has limited coronavirus infections by making masks mandatory in public among other early measures like closing schools and borders.
An EU country of 10.7 million people, it registered 8,034 confirmed cases and 270 deaths on Friday morning.