VILNIUS - A special ceremony was held in Vilnius on Tuesday morning to mark the departure of the first batch of medical supplies donated by Lithuania to the US to help combat the coronavirus pandemic.
"This is a symbolic gesture of solidarity and friendship. Lithuania is sending personal protective equipment to Pennsylvania for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic," Deputy Foreign Minister Dalius Cekuolis told BNS.
Cekuolis and Robert S. Gilchrist, the US ambassador to Lithuania, placed symbolic "Stronger Together" stickers on the first batch of protective face shields during the event at a logistics center near Vilnius Airport.
"Our ties with Pennsylvania are historical because it is the second state after Illinois to have had so many Lithuanian immigrants," the Lithuanian diplomat said. "There are deep ties between the Pennsylvania National Guard and our Armed Forces".
The first batch of medical supplies is expected to be flown to the US on July 20, with the remaining, larger part of the humanitarian aid shipment to be delivered by water within a month.
"It means a lot to my embassy, to Americans working everyday here in Lithuania," Gilchrist told BNS. "This gift – it means a lot to America, so thank you, Lithuania".
The ambassador also ready out a letter of thanks from the governor of Pennsylvania to Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius.
"The commitment of the Lithuanian people to help Pennsylvania during this critical time of need is deeply appreciated," Gilchrist said.
The government earlier this year provided 100,000 euros from its reserve for humanitarian aid to the US.
The money was used to purchase supplies manufactured in Lithuania, including 11,400 protective face shields from Medienos Era, over 10,700 disposable isolation gowns from Interscalit, and over 19,600 pieces of lung equipment from Intersurgical.