Rome March 13 — A team of Chinese medical experts, along with 31 tons of medical supplies, arrived in Italy late Thursday evening as the country struggles to contain the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that has infected over 12,000 and killed over 1,000 people.

The nine-member medical team, arranged by the National Health Commission and the Red Cross Society of China, is the third Chinese expert team sent abroad following teams sent to Iran and Iraq.

Francesco Rocca, the president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said Italy welcomes China’s support and assistance.

“Italy lauds China for its fight against the disease, and thanks China for providing support and assistance in such difficult time. Italy wants to exchange experience to prevent and contain the virus,” Rocca said.

Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio also expressed appreciation for China’s assistance. Speaking through a livestream on social media, he thanked China for sending a medic team and donating emergency medical equipment.

Italy is the world’s worst-hit country after China. It has reported 1,016 deaths and a total number of 12,839 infections. Authorities said 1,258 have recovered.

The country is in severe shortage of medical gears such as protective suits and face masks. Earlier, Italy’s ambassador to EU Maurizio Massari urged the EU to take “quick, concrete and effective” emergency actions to help contain the epidemic. Massari also accused the EU of not responding to Italy’s cry for help.

“Italy has already asked to activate the European Union mechanism of civil protection for the supply of medical equipment for individual protection. But unfortunately not a single EU country responded to the commission’s call. Only China responded bilaterally.”

Speaking at the airport on Thursday evening, China’s ambassador to Italy Li Junhua said the virus is borderless and countries should unite their efforts to contain the disease.

China’s ambassador to Italy Li Junhua

He said that China and Italy meeting each other’s needs is a good example of a shared humanity and it also shows China’s responsibility to safeguard global health.


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