MOSCOW, March 26. /TASS/. Residents of Italy are welcoming Russian military experts sent to the country to aid the fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Thursday on her Facebook page.
The diplomat mentioned the video footage with the participation of Igor Bogomolov, chief of the Special-Purpose Biological Protection Research Center. "The march is taking place without incident," Bogomolov said in the video, adding that the locals are welcoming the Russian military delegation warmly, making them feel at home.
"This is not a movie about aggressive Russians and the scorched earth left in their wake, this is a report about Russia aiding Italians, who are currently going through a very difficult period in their history," she continued. "This is the apogee of isolation, the apotheosis of "the Russian threat," the anatomy of "the Kremlin’s hand,"" Zakharova quipped.
Under the order of Russian President Vladimir Putin, on March 22-25, the Russian Defense Ministry sent 15 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.
After a meeting with representatives of the Italian Armed Forces, the Russian experts were sent to Bergamo. This 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.
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 (COVID-19) have been reported in more than 150 countries, including Russia.
On March 11, WHO declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a global pandemic. As of now, over 450,000 people have been infected around the world and more than 21,000 have died. Russia has identified 658 cases of the virus, two people have died, 29 have recovered. The Russian government has launched an online hotline to keep the country’s people informed about the coronavirus situation.