Four of the nine military transport planes prepared by Russia to deliver help to Italy in its desperate fight against the Covid-19 infection have departed an air base near Moscow.

The Ilyushin Il-76 planes are heading to the Pratica di Mare Air Base of the Italian Air Forces near Rome, the Russian Defense Ministry reported. The planes are carrying Russian military medics and specialists in infectious diseases, as well as equipment necessary for diagnostics and disinfection of the deadly coronavirus.

Earlier, the ministry prepared nine transport planes on the Chkalovskiy base near Moscow, flying some of them overnight from other parts of Russia, to airlift emergency aid to the coronavirus-stricken European nation. The deployment was ordered by President Vladimir Putin after a phone call with Italy’s Prime Minister  Giuseppe Conte on Saturday.

Italy has surpassed China as the nation hit worst by the Covid-19 pandemic as the death toll there reached 4,825 on Sunday. Worldwide, the virus has claimed over 13,000 lives.

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