China sends Serbia help to halt coronavirus spreading

BELGRADE, March 21 (Reuters) - China flew six doctors, ventilators and medical masks to Serbia on Saturday to help Belgrade halt spreading of the coronavirus infection.

“A big thank you to President Xi Jinping, the Chinese communist party and the Chinese people,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said.

Serbia authorities have reported 171 people tested positive to coronavirus and one death

The government on Friday introduced tighter measures including closing down cafes, restaurants and parks and introduced a curfew from 8 p.m. (1900 GMT) until 5 a.m. (0400 GMT).

But medical experts have warned the peak of the epidemic is expected in the coming weeks.

Vucic said that one of the halls at Belgrade Fair will be turned into a hospital with 3,000 beds to accommodate people infected with coronavirus.

The Chinese medical experts will meet their Serbian counterparts and propose measures to stop spreading of the infection.

“We will listen to whatever they say,” Vucic said.

China’s ambassador to Belgrade, Chen Bo, said the aid was a sign of the “iron friendship” between the two countries.

Serbia, which aspires to join the European Union, has developed close ties with China over the past decade.

Beijing has extended loans worth billions of dollars to build railways, roads and power plants in Serbia, mainly using Chinese workers, and bought Serbia’s only copper mine and a steel plant. (Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; editing by Jason Neely)