IsraAid volunteers prepare boxes of medical supplies that are being shipped to China. IsraAid volunteers prepare boxes of medical supplies that are being shipped to China. IsraAid volunteers prepare boxes of medical supplies that are being shipped to China. (Photo: Courtesy IsraAid)

IsraAid rushes urgent medical supplies on last plane to China

Humanitarians send protective gear on flight from Tel Aviv to Zhuhai to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.

In the wake of the ever-expanding coronavirus outbreak in China, many airlines have called off flights to and from the region. In Israel today, humanitarian aid agency IsraAID loaded a special care package aboard the last flight from Tel Aviv to Zhuhai, a city in China’s southern Guangdong province. On board was a shipment of urgently needed medical supplies and protective gear for the Chinese Ministry of Health to use in the impacted areas.

“We are all very concerned about the spread of coronavirus, and we are grateful for all the courageous work done by Chinese medical teams," said IsraAid CEO Yotam Polizer. The nonprofit group has experience with contagious outbreaks; they previously sent support after the Ebola virus struck Sierra Leone in 2014.

The coronavirus, which started in the Chinese province of Wuhan, is spreading fast – with many infectious disease experts prepping for a global pandemic. It is moving at a much more rapid clip than the slower-moving SARS epidemic of 2003. As of Monday morning, according to the World Health Organization, there are more than 17,000 confirmed cases in more than two dozen countries – including 11 in the United States.

A woman and her baby exiting the Hong Kong High Speed Rail Station in China. A woman and her baby exiting the Hong Kong High Speed Rail Station in China. (Photo: Anthony Kwan / Getty Images)

Like the Red Cross and the Americares Foundation, IsraAid travels to the scenes of natural disasters and other areas around the globe that are in need of support. They've been busy in recent years. After a cyclone roared through Vanuatu, and an earthquake rattled Nepal, and a flood ravaged West Virginia, IsraAid ran to the rescue. They've gone on missions to the South Sudan, Japan, India and the Philippines, just to name a few.

One of IsraAid's specialties is helping survivors with PTSD and other traumas suffered because of a disaster. The Tel Aviv-based group said that they will continue to monitor the situation in China and perhaps launch a secondary response team – including mental health professionals. "It’s important for us to do our part by sending relief supplies and sharing our expertise in the field of stress management and trauma reduction," said Polizer.

IsraAid workers present a gift basket to a resident in Houston, Texas, after catastrophic floods damaged his home. IsraAid workers present a gift basket to a resident in Houston, Texas, after catastrophic floods damaged his home. (Photo: IsraAid)

The Magen David Adom, Israel’s version of the Red Cross, is also donating 2,000 masks and 200 protection kits to China to help prevent the further spread of the virus. On Sunday, Israeli government scientists announced that they are working on developing and producing a coronavirus vaccine.

Amir Gal-Or of the Israel Chamber of Commerce in China, added: “This moment is just a small string added to the long history and foreseen future of two civilizations.”

Want to learn more about IsraAid? Listen to our 2018 podcast interview with Niv Rabino, a humanitarian relief worker for the group. The episode tells the daring story of how Rabino – whose niece was stuck for days on the second floor of a flooded home – helped Houston recover after Hurricane Harvey.

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IsraAid rushes urgent medical supplies on last plane to China
Humanitarians send protective gear on flight from Tel Aviv to Zhuhai to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.