"Eighty percent of Russian supplies are totally useless or of little use to Italy. In short, this is little more than a pretext," an official told local media.
- Russia said it sent medical equipment including 600 ventilators, military virologists, and epidemiologists, to Italy to help with its coronavirus outbreak.
- It also sent disinfectant and sterilization supplies, Italy's La Stampa newspaper reported. Footage of the convoy going toward Bergamo, Italy's hardest-hit region, was widely shared on social media.
- But unnamed Italian officials told La Stampa that 80% of the supplies sent over are useless, and implied that the delivery is little more than a public-relations stunt.
- It's not clear if the ventilators — which could save the lives of those suffering from the coronavirus — were delivered and if they were effective.
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Italian officials are calling a Russian military convoy of coronavirus relief supplies dispatched by Moscow mostly useless and implied that the gesture was motivated by public relations, according to the Italian daily La Stampa.
On Wednesday, Russia announced via state media that it had sent equipment including 600 ventilators, 100 military virologists and epidemiologists, and eight medical teams, to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Russia also sent disinfection equipment, a field laboratory for sterilization and chemical prevention, and other similar tools, La Stampa reported, citing an unnamed Italian official.
The supplies and personnel were transported to Rome via military transport jets, before transferring onto a convoy of military trucks to deliver the equipment to the hard-hit region of Bergamo, La Stampa said.
The shipment arrived by air after Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte spoke with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin last Saturday.
The footage of the convoy was widely shared on social media, but Italian officials speaking anonymously to La Stampa said as much as 80% of the delivered material was useless, and that the operation appears to be a public-relations stunt with little practical benefit to the country's healthcare system.
"Eighty percent of Russian supplies are totally useless or of little use to Italy. In short, this is little more than a pretext," an official told the newspaper on background, describing the supplies and disinfectants and sterilization equipment. They did not say anything about the medics sent there.
Italy's medical system has been struggling under the weight of its more than 75,000 infections and more than 7,500 deaths so far. The country has recorded a death toll higher than that of China, where the pandemic broke out.
It is unclear if the reported 600 ventilators were delivered, which if effective would be helpful as they have been in short supply in Italy.
Ventilators move breathable air into and out of a coronavirus patient's lungs, and can save the lives of people in pulmonary distress.
Russia has reported comparatively few cases of the coronavirus so far, though doctors in the country have accused authorities of covering up the true extent of the outbreak, saying that officials were classifying coronavirus deaths as pneumonia deaths.