Twenty thousand facemasks have been donated to Leicestershire by the Chinese province of Sichuan, to help bolster supplies for key workers in the County Council and other critical services across the county.
The partnership between Leicestershire and Sichuan is currently in its 32nd year and has seen the two regions support each other in business, tourism and times of need, including in 2008 when Leicestershire sent aid to Sichuan following a devastating earthquake.
We have worked closely with Sichuan for many years. We are very grateful for their generous donation which will help our front-line staff support vulnerable and older people.
Their support during this time is testament to our longstanding friendship with Sichuan, but also demonstrates the mutual commitment to strengthen and further develop our collaborative links and economic cooperation between our two regions.Person:Nick Rushton, leader of leicestershire county council
The masks, which will also be used to protect those who are shielded, have been flown into East Midlands Airport by courier companies, DHL and 20inExpress, based at Castle Donington.
In the last year, East Midlands Airport has joined with the county council to encourage Sichuan Airport Group and Sichuan Airlines to develop a direct cargo route from the Chinese province, which is almost twice as large as the UK, to Leicestershire, to encourage the growth of trade and tourism between the two regions.
Chris Hayton, Corporate Affairs Director at East Midlands Airport, said: “We are currently experiencing an international crisis and the only way we will get through it is by working in partnership with others around the globe. East Midlands Airport is proud of the role is has been able to play in bringing this much needed PPE into the country.
“Every day we’re seeing around 100 cargo flights operating from our airport, most of which are carrying medical equipment, medicines and other essential items that are vital in the fight back against the virus.”
Cecille Elbeleidi, Consul General of the British Consulate-General Chongqing, said: “This important donation demonstrates the heart and essence of a sister region relationship in challenging times. Leicestershire's sister region relationship with Sichuan Province is among the longest of its kind.
“Sichuan, China’s 6th biggest economy in 2019 among provinces, signed an Memorandum of Understanding with the Midlands Engine in 2017, promoting economic collaboration and trade in sectors including advanced manufacturing, life sciences, space technology and innovation. By building upon the mutual understanding established over 30 years ago, there is a promising future ahead.”