By Benet Koleka
TIRANA (Reuters) – Albania, which has recorded one of Europe’s lowest numbers of coronavirus cases, sent 60 more nurses to help treat patients in hard-hit neighbour Italy on Monday.
Health Minister Ogerta Manastirliu said the move was meant “to show hope and solidarity with the friendly Italian people, who have helped us over the years,” as she saw the nurses off at Rinas airport.
Her country, one of Europe’s poorest, has reported 584 cases of the novel coronavirus and 26 related deaths, as of Monday.
In Italy, across the Adriatic Sea, deaths from the infection rose to more than 23,600 on Sunday, the second-highest tally in the world after the United States. It has recorded almost 179,000 cases.
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio welcomed the nurses at the airport in Rome. He described the help as “another gift coming from our Albanian friends” on Twitter.
The nurses will join another 30 Albanian medical staff who were sent over in March and have been working in Italy’s north.
Italy has been a major ally and donor since Albania toppled communism in the late 1980s. Around 400,000 Albanians live and work there.
(Reporting by Benet Koleka, Editing by Andrew Heavens)