Trump orders U.S. to help Italy combat coronavirus crisis

US President Donald Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump ordered his government to give support to coronavirus-hit Italy, in a memorandum published late on Friday.

“(Italy), one of our closest and oldest Allies, is being ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Trump wrote in the memo.

Although the U.S. government’s “first and foremost responsibility is to the American people,” helping Italy will help mitigate the impact of the crisis, and demonstrate U.S. leadership, he wrote.

Trump ordered U.S. military personnel stationed in Italy to be made available to help set up field hospitals and transport supplies, fuel and food.

The order added that Italians who need medical care unrelated to the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus may be treated in U.S. military medical facilities.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was asked to encourage U.S. suppliers to deliver necessary supplies, such as medical equipment, as requested by the Italian authorities.

Italy had the highest death toll from coronavirus in the world as of Friday, with 18,849 fatalities, according to the country’s Civil Protection Agency.

The U.S. followed closely, with 18,769 recorded deaths as of early Saturday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.  (dpa/NAN)