Through a joint initiative by the Office of Papal Charities and the Missionary Center of the Chinese Church in Italy, nearly 700,000 medical face masks have been sent to China.
Beginning January 27th, four shipments of face masks have been sent to the Chinese provinces of Wuhan, Zhejiand, and Fujian – the provinces most affected by coronavirus – through China Southern Airlines who handled transporting them for free.
The initiative was organized by Papal almoner Cardinala Konrad Krajewski; Director of the Vatican Pharmacy Father Thomas Binish; and Vice-rector of the Pontifical Urbanian Father Vincenzo Handuo, who said in a statement:
“I hope the supplies could reach where they are needed as soon as possible, so that people who are suffering the disease could feel the concern from the Holy See. The whole world is standing together to fight the virus.”
The third shipment, featuring Pope Francis’ coat of arms, arrived Sunday with the fourth expected in the coming days. Commenting on the fourth shipment, the Holy See Press Office said:
“The masks are destined to the provinces of Hubei [Wuhan], Zhejiang and Fujian. It is a joint initiative of the Office of Papal Charities and the Chinese Church in Italy, in collaboration with the Vatican pharmacy.”
The donation will help during a time of medical supply shortage in China, who has had to regulate the sale of face masks – so much so that in some provinces citizens have to register their government id card on an app before they purchase one.
In his Angelus address on the 27th – the day the first shipment was sent out – Pope Francis prayed for the victims of coronavirus in Saint Peters’ Square.
“I also wish to be close and to pray for the persons sick with the virus that has spread in China. May the Lord welcome the dead into his peace, comfort families and sustain the great commitment by the Chinese community that has already been put in place to combat the epidemic.”