Coronavirus: China sends expert team, medical supplies to Italy and Spain

A person walks in a virtually deserted Via Roma, on the third day of an unprecedented lockdown across Italy. PHOTO: REUTERS

ROME/MADRID (XINHUA, REUTERS) - A consignment of medical supplies sent by China to help Italy and Spain contain the coronavirus has arrived in Europe, the Chinese embassy in Madrid said on Thursday (March 12).

The shipment includes 1.8 million masks, it said in a tweet.

A charter flight carrying a nine-member Chinese aid team, along with tonnes of medical supplies, arrived at Rome's Fiumicino Airport on Thursday night, China's official Xinhua news agency reported.

Organised by the National Health Commission and the Red Cross Society of China, the group is the third expert team sent abroad by Chinese authorities following previous teams sent to Iran and Iraq, the report said. All the team members and flight crew had passed health checks before boarding the plane, according to the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission.

They took with them more than 700 pieces of equipment and goods including ventilators, monitors and defibrillators.

"We bring here 30 sets of ICU equipment," one of the team members wearing a mask told media after getting off the plane.

Cargo blocks wrapped with water proofed material were seen being unloaded from the aircraft, Xinhua reported. The equipment were selected according to the requirements of the Italian side and were proven to be useful during clinical practices in China, according to Ruijin Hospital of the School of Medicine at Shanghai Jiaotong University, which prepared the equipment.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio appeared on Facebook expressing his thanks.

"Tonight Italy is not alone. Many people in the world are supporting us," he said, while his computer showed live broadcast of the scene at the airport.

The Chinese experts and equipment arrived two days after the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Italy topped 10,000.

Hardest hit by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic in Europe, Italy has toughened its measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The whole country has been under quarantine for three days.

Spain has also stepped up its response to the outbreak in recent days, closing schools and suspending parliament after a minister tested positive.

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