Russian Tupolev Cargo Plane. | Ultima Hora

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The Balearic Government has chartered a Russian cargo plane to bring medical supplies from China.

The first flight from Shanghai will arrive at Son Sant Joan airport on Monday, March 30 with 17 tons of sanitary instruments, respirators, COVID-19 rapid tests and Personal Protective Equipment, which are the disposable gowns used by doctors, nurses and other Health Personnel in Hospitals and Health Centres when they're caring for those affected by coronavirus.

There will also be a number of FPP-2 and FPP-3 masks, which are urgently needed by Health Professionals to avoid contagion.

The Ministry of Health has been heavily criticised in recent days as photos surfaced of volunteers making masks and gowns because there were not enough to go round.

Flights

Three more flights are scheduled to fly from China to the Balearic Islands as the demand for sanitary instruments grows.

The Regional Government has used all available contacts to secure these charter flights from China as quickly as possible and bring over the medical equipment that is desperately needed.

The cost of the operation has not been calculated as yet but it will depend how many flights are required and the Government will confirm the price in the coming days.

Complaints from the Balearic health unions, SATSE and Simebal, were a key factor in persuading the President of the Government, Francina Armengol, to authorise emergency flights from China.

On Sunday she said she was aware of the complaints about lack of supplies for health professionals:

“I understand it and we are aware of it and every day we ask the Ministry of Health to send us all the necessary material, but I cannot say when it will be resolved.

It will take 10-12 hours for the 20 ton, Tupolev TU-134 plane to fly 9,928 kilometres from Shanghai to Palma at a speed of 850 kilometres an hour and a height of 11,000 metres.

These cargo planes are used by the Russian Army to transport materials, are highly manoeuvrable and equipped with Soviet Aviadvigatel PS-90A turbofan engines.