MADRID: With a dire shortage of protective face masks in Europe, even for health workers, a senior manager at a Spanish furniture store group was surprised to hear business partners and staff in China offering to send him masks.
The starting point of the coronavirus pandemic, and for weeks its epicenter, China has seen new cases fall over the past weeks.
The death toll from the respiratory disease is now higher in Europe, particularly in Italy and Spain, causing a rush to find protective gear.
“I worked in China for several years. When you’re there, they give you things like tea, liquor or cookies. But until now the suppliers did not send us gifts to Spain,” said Ignacio Rey, the commercial director of Rey Corporacion.
Rey is expecting to receive a parcel of 100 masks, which he plans to give to a local health center. His import manager has received masks from a supplier and staff in China, which have also asked if they could help.
“They don’t do it as a business, they don’t charge, they are very concerned,” Rey said.
Business leaders in China and Europe say this was quickly becoming a popular trend.
Song Li, of of Beijing Best Buy International Trade Co, which exports and imports porcelain and wine in Europe and Asia, said his company was sending masks to clients in Europe as a gesture to strengthen their relationship.
“It’s funny to think that there is no better present than masks now,” he said.