'Solidarity in Europe': Norway to send team to Italy to help fight COVID-19

FILE PHOTO: A man walks outside the San Siro stadium after the Inter Milan v Sampdoria Serie A match was cancelled due to an outbreak of the coronavirus in Lombardy and Veneto, in Milan, Italy, February 23, 2020.REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway will send a team of medical and logistical staff to Italy’s Lombardy region to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oslo government said on Sunday.

The deployment is planned to last four weeks and will likely be based in Bergamo, one of the cities hardest hit by the disease, after health authorities in Lombardy issued a request for international help on March 31.

The team consists of 20-25 doctors, nurses and logistical staff, many of whom have done similar work during the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the measles outbreak in Samoa in recent years.

“Solidarity in Europe is not a theoretical exercise and now is the time to show it in practice,” Norwegian Health Secretary Bent Hoeie said. “We must help each other when crisis hits.”

Norway is not a member of the European Union.

Italy reported its lowest daily COVID-19 death toll for more than two weeks on Sunday as authorities began to look ahead to a second phase of the battle against the new coronavirus once the lockdown imposed almost a month ago is eventually eased.

The toll from the world’s deadliest outbreak reached 15,887, almost a quarter of the global death total, but the rise of 525 from a day earlier was the smallest daily increase since March 19.

By comparison, Norway’s death toll stands at 58, with 5,640 confirmed cases of infection, according to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

On Wednesday the government will decide whether to prolong restrictions, currently set to expire on April 13, including the closure of schools and nurseries.

Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Pravin Char