Russian army to send coronavirus help to Italy after Putin phone call


  • World
  • Sunday, 22 Mar 2020

FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia October 24, 2018. Sergei Chirikov/Pool via REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian military will start sending medical help to Italy from Sunday to help it to battle the new coronavirus after receiving an order from President Vladimir Putin, Russia's Defence Ministry said in a statement.

Putin spoke to Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Saturday, the Kremlin said, adding that the Russian leader had offered his support and help in the form of mobile disinfection vehicles and specialists to aid the worst hit Italian regions.

Italy recorded a jump in deaths from the coronavirus of almost 800 on Saturday, taking the toll in the world's hardest-hit country to almost 5,000.

The Russian Defence Ministry said that military transport planes would deliver eight mobile brigades of military medics, special disinfection vehicles and other medical equipment to Italy from Sunday.

Russia will also send about 100 military specialists in virology and epidemics, the Interfax news agency cited the defence ministry as saying.

Russia itself has reported 306 cases of the virus, most of them in Moscow, and one coronavirus-related death.

(Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Christopher Cushing and David Goodman)

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