A fifteenth aircraft from the Russian Aerospace Forces has delivered aid to Italy to help the country combat the coronavirus outbreak, Russia’s Defence Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.
The Il-76 military transport jet took off from an airfield outside of Moscow on Tuesday night with coronavirus diagnosis and disinfection equipment on board. It landed at the Pratica Di Mare military air base near Rome.
Russia started flying specialists and kits to Italy after a Saturday conversation between President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppte Conte. Since then, Russian Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft have sent in eight medical teams and over a hundred military virologists and epidemiologists. The medics will be working in Bergamo in the northern province of Lombardy, Italy’s worst-affected region.
Italy, whose pleas for medical equipment largely fell on deaf ears in the European Union, became the continent’s worst-affected country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The total number of registered coronavirus cases has surpassed 69,000 in Italy, with over 6,800 deaths reported as of Tuesday. The country’s unusually high death toll, which is the worst in the world, has been blamed on an ageing population and an overwhelmed health system.