Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte: "We are facing an emergency, a national emergency. We have to limit the spread of the virus and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed."

China has delivered a planeload of medical supplies, including masks and respirators, to help Italy deal with its growing Covid-19 crisis, China Daily reported.

Understandably, with medical supplies running dangerously low, the Italian people have expressed their gratitude for China’s help after the planeload of needed supplies and courageous expert volunteers arrived in Rome, the report said.

What’s hard to comprehend, however, is that Italy’s European Union partners have turned a deaf ear to its pleas for help.

Italy is now the hardest-hit nation after China, with more than 1,800 deaths from Covid-19 and over 24,747 confirmed cases since the outbreak began there on Feb 21, according to Al Jazeera.

“In this moment of great stress, of great difficulty, we are relieved to have this arrival of supplies. It is true that it will help only temporarily, but it is still important,” said the head of the Italian Red Cross, Francesco Rocca.

“We have a desperate need for these masks right now. We need respirators (that will be donated to the government). This is for sure a really important donation for our country,” Rocca added.

A team of nine Chinese medical workers arrived in Rome late on Thursday, along with about 30 metric tons of equipment, on a flight organized by the Red Cross Society of China, the report said.

Lu Ming, a member of the team who also works with the National Health Commission’s international cooperation department, said: “To bring down the mortality rate is a priority in disease control, especially given that we’re coping with an emerging virus. So we have dispatched the most competent experts in treating severe and critical cases to Italy.

“We’re willing to share hard-won diagnosis and treatment guidelines with Italians, and we also hope that our Italian colleagues will be able to enforce proper quarantine of infected cases and general epidemic control measures,” Lu was quoting by China Radio International as saying.

“We have also carried plasma and blood products from recovered Chinese patients,” Lu added. Using such infusions of blood plasma in infected patients is believed to be an effective therapeutic approach.

Italy’s outbreak risks overwhelming the nation’s hospitals, and some key supplies are running low, according to media reports.

“I appreciate a lot this lovely gesture from China,” Eva Dal Pozzo, a senior business consultant in Italy, told Xinhua. She described the shipment as vital, since the nation’s factories do not have sufficient production capacity.

None of Italy’s partners in the European Union responded to Rome’s requests for help with medical supplies as they looked to protect their own supplies of masks and other equipment.

The aid from China included nine pallets loaded with tens of thousands of masks, respiratory materials, electrocardiographs and other medical supplies.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the impact of the tightened restrictions would still take another couple of weeks to show.

“We are facing an emergency, a national emergency,” he said in a televised address to announce the new restrictions. “We have to limit the spread of the virus and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed.”

Cinzia Pasquale, a senior consultant on European Union affairs living in Lombardy, was quoted by Xinhua as saying, “Seeing how China has managed the outbreak in Wuhan, I am personally very confident of the contribution that the Chinese medical staff will make to the heroic Italian doctors who have been overwhelmed by this health emergency.”

Meanwhile, Italian carmakers Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are in talks with the nation’s biggest ventilator manufacturer to help to boost production of the life-saving machines that are urgently needed in Italy, Reuters reported.

Gianluca Preziosa, Siare’s chief executive, said the two industries share some expertise, with both the ventilator business and automakers relying heavily on electronics as well as pneumatics.

(Editor’s note, March 17: The Global Times reported that China is sending a second medical team to Italy, which will bring traditional Chinese medicine solutions to help the southern European country fight the pandemic. The 12-member medical team from East China’s Zhejiang Province will depart Shanghai for Milan this week. The team is being sent by the National Health Commission of China.)