Russian military specialists arrived to the Italian city of Bergamo, where they will help local authorities in tackling the novel coronavirus outbreak, a source in the Russian Defense Ministry told reporters on Thursday.
"A convoy of special equipment with Russian Defense Ministry specialists arrived to the Orio al Serio airport in Italy, which will serve as a base for a joint Russian-Italian anti-coronavirus headquarters," the source said.
The Russian convoy covered over 600 km to from the Italian Armed Forces air base in Pratica di Mare (30 km to the southwest of Rome, Italy) to Bergamo. The column included 22 Russian special-purpose vehicles and buses with military specialists, TASS reports.
"The convoy, which arrived to Bergamo, included a mobile complex for analysis and diagnostics, efficient mobile disinfection equipment with a stock of disinfectants, as well as special equipment to care for novel coronavirus infection in serious condition," the ministry source said. "The Russian equipment was accompanied by Italian carabinieri throughout the trip."
Bergamo, a city in northern Italy (the province of Lombardy) is one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy with a record number of infections and deaths in the country. Under the order of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian Defense Ministry sent several military jets to Italy that transported virologists, epidemiologists and the necessary equipment to the country. According to the ministry, the group includes specialists who directly took part in fighting outbreaks of African swine fever, as well as developing vaccines against Ebola and the plague. The planes also delivered mobile stations for aerosol disinfection of transport and territories and medical equipment.
Between late March 22 and early March 25, 15 Russian planes landed in Italy to bring the necessary personnel and equipment.
In late December 2019, Chinese authorities notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus - named COVID-19 by the WHO - have been reported in more than 150 countries, including Russia.
On March 11, WHO declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a global pandemic.