Coronavirus: Italian doctor accuses EU states of ‘shameful abdication of responsibility’

Last week, Italy went into lockdown. Schools and universities are closed, football games are suspended, and restaurant visits are banned amid a rapid spread of the novel coronavirus in the country. Just grocery stores and pharmacies are allowed to stay open, and only essential travel is permitted. But despite the restrictive measures, the number of people infected and dying from coronavirus is rising. On Wednesday, Italy recorded 475 in one day – the biggest increase since the outbreak.

When COVID-19 started spreading rapidly, the country appealed for help via the Emergency Response Coordination Centre, a special European crisis mechanism.

However, no EU country responded.

Fearful of its own shortages, Germany initially banned the export of medical masks and other protective gear.

3M, a producer, said the German restrictions had made it impossible to supply the Italian market.

France and Czech Republic which – together with Germany and Poland – are the main face mask manufacturers, also stopped exporting them.

In response, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had to interfere and in in a video-message on Twitter, as she urged member states to ramp up the production of medical equipment and share those goods within the bloc.

In an exclusive interview with, Maurizio Brucchi, a renowned Italian doctor who served as Mayor of Teramo, hit out at Germany and France, accusing them of a shameful abdication of responsibility.

He said: “We had a shortage of medical supplies.

“Face masks, in particular.

“And then we find out it is because Germany and France blocked their exports to Italy.

“This is appalling and shameful. I will never stop saying this.

“They keep telling us we are a single Europe, we all brothers and sisters, we all belong to the same state.

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“And then, they do this?”

Mr Brucchi added: “We trusted the EU – but they don’t think of us as their equals.

“Germany and France do not consider ourselves on their level.

“They want us to end up like Greece. That’s their goal.

“And if they don’t do anything, we will.”

He noted: “We, Italians, do not feel European at the moment.”

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In the meantime, a partial saviour arrived in Italy.

At midnight on March 12, a Chinese aircraft landed in Rome carrying nine medical experts and 31 tons of medical supplies including intensive care unit equipment, medical protective equipment, and antiviral drugs.

Around the same time, a Chinese truck arrived in Italy bringing more than 230 boxes of medical equipment.

Beijing’s gesture reinforced the perceived lack of support from the EU, compounded by a blunder by the European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde, who last week implied it was no longer her job to keep Italy in the euro.

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