BEIJING, March 12 (Xinhua) -- China on Thursday sent a nine-person expert team to Italy to assist the containment of COVID-19, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.
The expert team departed Shanghai earlier in the day, taking with them intensive care and medical protective equipment to Rome, spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a news briefing.
The team was organized by the National Health Commission and the Red Cross Society of China. It is the third expert team sent abroad by Chinese authorities following previous teams sent to Iran and Iraq.
More than 700 pieces of equipment and goods prepared by the Ruijin Hospital of the School of Medicine at Shanghai Jiaotong University, including ventilators, monitors and defibrillators, were sent to Italy. They were intended for the establishment of 30 intensive care beds.
"It's for setting up an intensive care unit for patients infected with COVID-19," said Chen Haitao, deputy head of the hospital. "According to the requirements of the Italian side, we selected equipment proven to be useful during clinical practices."
For the equipment made in China, the hospital has translated the instructions into English, set up an English-language operating interface and prepared power adaptors.
All the team members and flight crew have passed health checks before boarding the plane, according to the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission.
China and European countries have been in close communication and cooperation since the outbreak of the epidemic, Geng said, noting the two sides have formed a joint expert group made up of officials and experts from the National Health Commission of China, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
"The group held its third video conference Wednesday, exchanging in-depth views on issues including updates on the epidemic situation, prevention and containment measures as well as diagnosis and screening, and agreed to further strengthen the sharing of experience and technologies, to jointly defeat the disease and safeguard regional and global public health," said the spokesperson.
International solidarity and cooperation are crucial in the face of the epidemic, Geng said, adding China is willing to further promote cooperation with the European side in such areas as diagnosis, treatment technology, and research in medicines and vaccines
Geng cited ancient Roman philosopher Seneca as saying that "we are waves of the same sea, leaves of the same tree, flowers of the same garden," expressing hope that the international community will win the war against COVID-19 through joint efforts.