April 11, 2020 / 1:58 AM / 2 months ago

Trump orders U.S. government to help Italy in coronavirus fight

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the coronavirus response daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday ordered top U.S. administration officials to help Italy in fighting the novel coronavirus by providing medical supplies, humanitarian relief and other assistance.

In a memo to several Cabinet ministers, Trump ordered a variety of measures to help Italy, including making U.S. military personnel in the country available for telemedicine services, helping set up field hospitals, and transporting supplies.

“The Italian Republic (Italy), one of our closest and oldest Allies, is being ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already claimed more than 18,000 lives, brought much of the Italian healthcare system to the brink of collapse, and threatens to push Italy’s economy into a deep recession,” Trump said in the memo.

Italy has recorded the biggest number of deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, followed by the United States.

Trump ordered his commerce secretary to encourage U.S. suppliers to sell products requested by Italian authorities and healthcare providers, except those required for the United States’ own response to the pandemic.

The memo said the secretary of state, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the president of the U.S. Export-Import Bank “may use available authorities to support the recovery of the Italian economy.”

(This story corrects name in paragraph 6 to Agency for International Development, not Aid)

Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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