A team of eleven Italian healthcare workers arrived in Armenia on Friday to assist their Armenian colleagues in dealing with the continuing spread of the coronavirus.
The Italian Embassy in Yerevan said they will stay in the country for three weeks to “help our brothers and sisters in the fight against COVID-19.”
“The operation, which falls within the scope of the European Civil Protection Mechanism, was ordered by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte following a request for international assistance made by Armenia to the European Commission,” read a statement released by Italy’s Civil Protection Department earlier in the day.
The statement said that the medics come from Piedmont, Lombardy and Tuscany, the three Italian provinces that have been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.
Similar medical teams have also been sent to Armenia by France, Russia and Lithuania over the past 10 days. They have been deployed to local hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.
Italy has reported about 240,000 coronavirus cases and over 34,700 deaths to date. A three-month lockdown has helped the health authorities there to contain the pandemic.
In Armenia, the coronavirus crisis is continuing unabated, with 23,247 cases and at least 410 deaths recorded as of Friday morning. The South Caucasus country’s number of confirmed cases per million people is almost twice higher than Italy’s.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian acknowledged on Friday that Armenia now has one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the world. “This is a big problem for all us,” he said.
Pashinian again complained that many Armenians still do not realize the seriousness of the situation. He said that his government is therefore planning a further toughening of sanctions against people who do not practice physical distancing, wear face masks in public or follow other sanitary rules.