A Chinese Red Cross plane filled with 30 tons of medical equipment and nine medical staff with experience battling the disease arrived in Italy today.
The medical team includes an expert from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and two respiratory disease specialists from Sichuan University's West China Hospital.
The planeload of medical supplies, including masks and respirators, is much needed in the country that's the second-worst hit by the virus after China. Since Feb. 21 Italy has had over 1,000 deaths and 15,000 confirmed cases of the virus.
To stop the spread of the virus, restaurants and shops have been closed throughout Italy. The government is fining people between €60 and €80 (around $70 to $90) for leaving their homes without the required permission.
The Chinese hope their coronavirus experts and supplies can help stop the spread of the disease that's believed to have originated in the country's Hubei providence late last year.
"In this moment of great stress, of great difficulty, we are relieved to have this arrival of supplies. It is true that it will help only temporarily, but it is still important," Francesco Rocca, head of the Italian Red Cross, said according to Reuters.
"We have a desperate need for these masks right now. We need respirators that the Red Cross will donate to the government. This is for sure a really important donation for our country," Rocca said.
Over the course of just three weeks, the healthcare system has been overloaded in northern Italy. Hospitals have been turned into triage wards where nurses and doctors have to make the unthinkable decision between who lives and who dies.
One doctor said the situation in Italy is an "epidemiological disaster" that has "overwhelmed" healthcare professionals.
An exhausted nurse .A HERO! She's working since 15 days with 4 hrs stop for a nap. Cremona Hospital. Some time to recover energy and return to the trenches.
Best of Italy pic.twitter.com/9ATU6BSW50
— LuigiJ.B.O'MalleyHub (@LuigiJBOMalleyH) March 9, 2020
The Chinese are able to lend a hand to other nations because it claims to have made significant progress in stopping the virus's progression throughout the country. On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that victory was in sight.
The Chinese aid to Italy began after a phone call between Italian and Chinese foreign ministers on Tuesday.
"Although currently China itself still has great demand for medical materials, we will overcome the difficulties and offer material aid, including face masks, to Italy, and increase exports of materials and equipment to meet Italy's urgent need," Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said during the call.
"If the Italian side requires it, China would also like to send medical teams to assist in combating the virus," he added.
China has also reached out to Spain to help in its efforts to fight the coronavirus. Spain has seen over 4,200 cases of the virus with about half of them happening in Madrid. The country has implemented a lockdown similar to Italy in which all unessential businesses have been shut down.
China's aid to Italy and Spain is a great example of one country sharing its resources to help another. This virus started in China and moved its way across the globe. So the only way the coronavirus will truly be stopped is by countries coming together to help each other.
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