China sends medical experts, aid to Italy to help fight virus crisis

Sun Shuopeng (left), vice-president of China’s Red Cross leaves the Red Cross headquarters in Rome. (AP pic)

ROME: Nine Chinese experts and several tonnes of medical aid have arrived on a special to flight to Italy to help the country fight Europe’s most serious coronavirus outbreak.

China, the epicentre of the outbreak that first emerged in December, has said the peak of the epidemic has passed in the country after a steady decline in the number of new cases.

After battling the deadly epidemic for several months, it has also sent support to Iran and Iraq to help fight the illness.

On Thursday, a flight carrying medical experts and supplies arrived in Rome to help the hard-hit country, which has more than 15,000 cases and over 1,000 deaths – the most outside China.

The specialists had “been on the frontline since the first day in the epicentre of the virus”, said Francesco Rossa, the president of the Italian Red Cross.

“The exchange of experiences with our researchers is important.”

The team included the vice-president of the Chinese Red Cross and a prominent cardio-pulmonary intensive care expert, along with paediatricians and nurses who worked on the virus outbreak in China.

The medical supplies included ventilators, respiratory material, electro-cardiography machines and tens of thousands of masks, Rossa said.

Sporting face masks, the Chinese specialists were met by Italian health officials in Rome as they arrived for the visit.

In a phone call earlier this week, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio that Italy would have Beijing’s full support in battling the outbreak.

The outbreak has killed over 3,100 people in China and infected more than 80,000, the highest number globally.

Italy is the second-worst affected country and has issued a nationwide lockdown in a bid to contain the pandemic.