UPDATES WITH STATEMENTS FROM SPAIN, ITALY
By Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak
ANKARA (AA) – NATO's secretary general on Wednesday praised Turkey for sending medical aid to Italy and Spain, worst hit in Europe by the coronavirus pandemic.
"#NATO solidarity in action: Turkey sending a cargo plane with medical supplies to Italy & Spain today to support our joint fight against #COVID19," said Jens Stoltenberg on Twitter.
"Proud to see NATO Allies supporting each other through our disaster relief center. #StrongerTogether," he added.
The Italian delegation in NATO also took Twitter to thank Turkey.
"Following Italy’s activation of NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre, today our ally Turkey will deliver critical medical equipments to Italy. Deeply grateful to our Turkish friends for their solidarity!" said delegation.
The Spanish delegation to NATO also expressed gratefulness for Turkey via their official Twitter account.
"After Spain's request to NATO's EADRCC, a new supply to fight Covid-19 arrives from our Ally Turkey," it said.
A Turkish military aircraft carrying medical aid departed from the capital Ankara on Wednesday for Italy and Spain, the countries worst hit in Europe by the novel coronavirus.
"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," the Turkish Defense Ministry said on Twitter before the departure of the aid.
Later in the day, Spain's Defence Chief of Staff Miguel Villarroya said at a press conference that the Turkish aid package arrived at the Torrejón airbase in Madrid at 11.30 a.m. local time (0930GMT) and contained 25 tons of protective equipment.
The Czech Republic, Lithuania and Luxembourg also sent aid as a response to Spain’s urgent request to NATO for supplies.
Spain's Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez also thanked Turkey on her official Twitter account.
The Spanish Foreign Ministry also tweeted: “Many thanks to our Turkish friends!”
Italian and Spanish embassies in Ankara also thanked for the medical aid on Twitter.
Italy's death toll reached 12,428 on Tuesday, the highest globally. Spain have reported 8,189 fatalities so far.
After originating in Wuhan last December, the virus has spread to at least 180 countries and regions across the world, with its epicenter shifting to Europe, while China has largely come out of the crisis.
The virus has killed more than 43,500 people and infected over 877,000 globally, while some 185,000 people recovered from the disease, according to figures collated by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.