Ten days ago, the President of the Italian Red Cross, Francesco Rocca, recognized the “strange feeling” caused by the fact that Italy, a wealthy country, the third largest economy in the Eurozone, became a recipient of international aid to the coronavirus emergency.
He did it at a press conference in which he thanked a group of nine Chinese specialists who arrived with a shipment of 30 tons of medical equipment. They have now been joined by medical brigades from Cuba and Russia in efforts to beat the virus in Lombardy, Italy’s pandemic ground zero.
The experts, who fought against COVID-19 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, focus of the outbreak, brought with them in that first shipment mechanical respirators, ventilators, electrocardiograms and tens of thousands of masks.
When Italy has already overtaken China by number of deaths with coronavirus – almost 5,500 according to the latest bulletin (3,500 in Lombardy) – and with 47,000 currently positive cases, the country welcomed a delegation of 52 Cuban doctors and nurses arrived last night from Havana on a special Alitalia flight.
It is one of the Caribbean island medical brigades hardened in the worst battles, such as the Ebola epidemic in Africa or cholera in Haiti, but which are generally sent to third world or developing countries.
“They come from Cuba, in solidarity and committed to doing good to those in need, without distinction. Cuban doctors come to support the people of Italy to fight the coronavirus,” wrote the Cuban ambassador to Italy, José Carlos Rodríguez, on the networks. social.
The group, which has responded to the request for help launched by the Lombardy authorities – governed by the far-right Liga – later traveled by coach to the city of Crema, to work at their hospital, and later they will do so at the hospital in campaign ending in Bergamo.
Shortly thereafter, at nightfall, at the Pratica Di Mare military airport near Rome, the nine Il-76 military transport planes chartered by the Russian Ministry of Defense began to land to help with the collapse of the health situation in Lombardy.
“The night will be long here in Pratica di Mare. The first two planes from Russia have already arrived. The other 7 planes will also land every two hours and will bring face masks, lung ventilators, protective suits, doctors and many other aids to Italy,” Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, present at the aerodrome, wrote on Twitter.
On board the apparatus, eight medical brigades, including specialists and virologists, some 120 people in total, in addition to the equipment and Kamaz trucks to disinfect the areas most contaminated by the virus in Lombardy.
On the fuselage of the planes and on the trucks, emblems with the flags of Italy and Russia in the shape of hearts and the phrase, in English, Italian and Russian, “From Russia with love”, the famous title of one of the deliveries of James Bond.
The need for medical personnel is urgent at the moment, when 9% of all the infected in the country are health workers, and 20 doctors have already died infected in their work.
Médecins Sans Frontières is also supporting Italian health authorities in the response to the coronavirus pandemic, and their staff are already in four hospitals in the province of Lodi, Lombardy. They are Italian infectious disease specialists, anesthetists, nurses and logists.
And Unicef, the United Nations Children’s Fund, has just announced that “given the dramatic situation, aid will be sent to Italy on an exceptional basis in the coming days, in particular surgical masks, surgical gloves, overalls and goggles, gowns and thermometers. “
“Italy is experiencing the most serious global health crisis of the last 100 years, unexpected, of gigantic proportions … and this represents a concrete first aid from Unicef, which will be followed by others, for health workers who are in the first line “, said the president of Unicef Italy, Francesco Samengo.