Russia's Defense Ministry announced over the weekend that starting Sunday the military will deploy medical help to hard-hit Italy, the coronavirus epicenter in Europe which has seen its death toll take record jumps in the past days, now approaching 5,000 killed from the disease.
The Kremlin said the emergency aid was initiated on orders from President Vladimir Putin after he spoke with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Saturday, and will include eight mobile brigades of military medics and special disinfection vehicles.
The operation will see Russia's top military specialists in virology and epidemics deploy to the hardest hit regions of Italy. The doctors and specialized equipment is being flown on nine Il-76 aircraft from an airfield outside Moscow.
#Footage @mod_russia’s medical and other equipment is being loaded onto Il-76 aircraft for shipment to Italia within the measures to help fight the coronavirus#RusMoD #ArmyRussia #RussianASF #MilitaryDoctors #RussiaItaly #Coronavirus @rusembitaly pic.twitter.com/oUoK11r4WK— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) March 22, 2020
"A group of some 100 people is ready for the flight, which consists of leading specialists of the Russian Defense Ministry in the field of virology and epidemiology, who have major international experience in fighting against the epidemic along with modern equipment for diagnosing and carrying out disinfection efforts," the ministry said.
Russia currently has only 306 confirmed cases and one death, most concentrated in Moscow.
EXCLUSIVE: This is the number of ventilators (which a fraction of #COVID19 patients need to breathe) in regions across Russia.— Meduza in English (@meduza_en) March 20, 2020
Even rural Russian areas beat Italy's average — and the U.S.'s, and the U.K.'s. But that may not mean much in the big picture: https://t.co/1G8ur5Tq03 pic.twitter.com/l2OS0KZ8CW
The country is also said to be well-stocked with necessary equipment which has been in short supply in some places in the West, such as ventilators.
Italy recorded its biggest jump in deaths yet throughout the crisis — at 800 in a single 24-hour period — on Saturday.