Turkey has sent military aircraft delivering medical aid and supplies to Spain and Italy today in efforts to help them combat the coronavirus pandemic as two of the countries worst hit by the crisis.
Cargo planes belonging to the Turkish Air Force landed in Spain this morning loaded with boxes of supplies such as sanitiser, masks, and protective gear, in an effort initiated by Turkey to help those countries most affected by the respiratory virus that has spread throughout much of the world over the past few months.
Some of the packages were covered with banners on which encouraging quotes were written, such as one from the famous 13th century Persian poet Rumi, reading "All despair is followed by hope; All darkness is followed by sunshine."
The Turkish Ministry of Defence wrote on its Twitter account that "Upon the instructions of President [Recep Tayyip Erdogan], health supplies consisting of masks, overalls and anti-bacterial fluids, produced domestically in the Defence Ministry's factories and sewing facilities with local resources, will be sent by TAF aircraft to Italy and Spain to combat COVID-19."
Upon the instructions of President, health supplies consisting of masks, overalls and anti-bacterial fluids, produced domestically in the Defence Ministry's factories and sewing facilities with local resources, will be sent by TAF aircraft to Italy and Spain to combat COVID-19. pic.twitter.com/oYJQYhuWAd
— T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanlığı (@tcsavunma) April 1, 2020
The Secretary-General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg praised Turkey today, writing on Twitter that the move represents "solidarity in action: Turkey sending a cargo plane with medical supplies to Italy & Spain today to support our joint fight against #COVID19."
Italy's delegation in NATO also thanked Turkey on Twitter, stating that "Following Italy's activation of NATO's Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre, today our ally Turkey will deliver critical medical equipment to Italy. Deeply grateful to our Turkish friends for their solidarity!"
They were also joined by the Spanish delegation, which expressed its gratitude that "After Spain's request to NATO's EADRCC, a new supply to fight COVID-19 arrives from our ally Turkey."
The aid sent by Turkey is much needed in both of the European nations, with their infection cases and death rates having risen sharply over the past month in particular. In Spain, there have so far been a total number of 102,136 infections cases and 9,053 deaths, with 22,647 recovered.
Italy has fared even worse with 105,792 cases and has the highest global death rate at 12,428.
Throughout the world, countries have been enforcing strict measures in order to prevent the further spread of the virus – which originated in Wuhan, China – and to limit the death toll before a vaccine is created.
The measures have included curfews, lockdowns, the closure of schools, businesses, and public institutions, as well as bans on international travel. The worldwide death toll, however, has continued to rise and is now at 43,275, with over 873,008 infected.