Taiwan, the Republic of China, has supported Estonia’s fight with the novel coronavirus with 80,000 surgical masks; the masks arrived in Estonia on 21 April and will be delivered to Saaremaa and Hiiumaa islands.
The Estonian Red Cross received the surgical masks as part of a support package of Taiwan, announced by Harry Tseng, a representative of Taiwan’s office in the European Union and Belgium, on 14 April.
Helping medical professionals
In a letter sent to an Estonian member of the European Parliament, Urmas Paet, Tseng said that “through this action, the slogan ‘Taiwan can help’ is manifested by the Taiwanese government in solidarity with the European Union”. The masks are sent for the “heroic medical professionals working around the clock” on the frontline in Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden, Tseng said.
“My government offered humanitarian assistance for countries in dire need of protective equipment as soon as our daily mask production reached 13 million earlier this month. In addition to European countries, millions of masks were also airlifted to Taiwan’s 15 diplomatic allies and neighbouring Asian countries to urgently boost their capacity to cope with the outbreak,” Tseng said. “Taiwan is ready and willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with the EU and its member states in the joint effort to fight this pandemic. Only fighting together will we become stronger.”
Taiwan’s donation biggest to Estonia so far
Urmas Paet told Estonian World that this was Taiwan’s support for Estonia, “not a business deal”. “Which other countries have supported Estonia during this crisis? I don’t remember any at the moment. We should remember that Taiwan, which has long been persecuted by China, is not thinking twice to support many other countries, including Estonia, at this difficult time,” he said.
A representative of the Estonian Red Cross told Estonian World that so far, it’s the only international mask donation to Estonia received by the organisation.
The consignment was received on Tuesday morning in front of the Estonian Red Cross’ central office in Tallinn by Harri Viik and Arvi Pervas, the president and secretary-general of the Estonian Red Cross, respectively, and an opposition MP, Kalle Laanet (Reform Party), who is the chairman of the Estonian-Taiwan Friendship Group in the country’s parliament, Riigikogu.
Most of the 80,000 masks will be delivered to Saaremaa island – Estonia’s hardest hit region by the virus – but some will also be distributed to Hiiumaa island and Lääne County. The masks are mainly handed over to hospitals and nursing homes, but the food industry will also receive some.
In a perhaps ironic twist, last week Estonia announced it will send 30,000 face masks to both Italy and Spain to control the spread of the coronavirus.
For the latest developments in Estonia, follow our special blog on coronavirus.
Cover: The consignment was received on 21 April in front of the Estonian Red Cross’ central office in Tallinn. Images courtesy of the Estonian Red Cross.