JUETERBOG, Germany (Reuters) – Refugees in the eastern German town of Jueterbog are sewing face masks for pensioners in a retirement home that has a shortage of facial coverings for elderly residents at heightened risk of coronavirus infection.

Iranian refugee Babak Barz, who ran a sewing workshop for six years in Tehran, said he wanted to put his experience to good use. “I thought, I have some experience with this kind of work, so I can also help,” said Barz, smiling against the whirring noise from sewing machines.

In the last 10 days his team has sewn 735 protective face masks from cloth. Germany has more than 100,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus registered and 1,861 people have died from COVID-19. Elderly people are widely seen to be more at risk.

First, the refugees gave the masks to a retirement home and then, because Barz completed a six-week internship at a nearby town hall in Luckenwalde, he handed over a box of blue masks to the mayor.

“It’s truly an excellent gift during the crisis and times of uncertainty for people. I’ve been seeing people do assertive things, many examples that are touching, and this is one of them,” said Mayor Elisabeth Herzog von der Heide.

(Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Mark Heinrich)