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News > Italy

Sicily Asks Cuba to Send Doctors as Italy Fights Second Wave

  • Cuban doctors from the Henry Reeve Medical Brigade wave Cuban and Italian flags after their arrival from Italy to Havana, Cuba. June 08, 2020.

    Cuban doctors from the Henry Reeve Medical Brigade wave Cuban and Italian flags after their arrival from Italy to Havana, Cuba. June 08, 2020. | Photo: EFE/EPA/Yamil Lage

Published 25 November 2020

Sicilian authorities have asked the Cuban government to send 60 doctors and nurses to the region as hospitals on the Italian island struggle with a medical personnel shortage.

According to the Italian newspaper la Repubblica, a request was filed this week by the Italian embassy in Cuba to send 60 Cuban intensive care specialists, nurses, anesthetists, resuscitators, virologists, and pneumologists to Siciliy as it's suffering from a second coronavirus wave.


Cuba Comes to Italy's Aid by Sending Team of Doctors and Nurses

In March and April this year, two Cuban medical brigades traveled to some of the hardest hits Italian regions, such as Lombardy and Piedmont, to replace overworked Italian professionals, the first time Cuba's Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade provided its life-saving services on the European continent.

During the COVID-19 pandemic alone, Cuba has sent nearly 4,000 health professionals organized in over 50 brigades to 39 countries in every continent of the world, one of the numerous reasons why world leaders, artists, activists, and health experts have called for the Nobel Prize Committee to grant Cuban doctors the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021.

Renato Costa, Sicily’s COVID-19 emergency commissioner, told La Repubblica: “The Cuban government has teams of doctors and nurses who are willing to travel to other countries to work, and we asked for their help. We know that in recent weeks other regions in Italy have asked Cuba for help, too. We just hope they will come to us first. I am in contact with the embassy, which has welcomed our request.”

On November 4th, the Italian government-designated Sicily as an "orange zone" of high risk mainly because of the lack of health facilities and beds in intensive care units. On Tuesday, Sicily saw 48 COVID-related deaths, the highest daily toll since the start of the pandemic.

As a whole, in Italy, there were 722 COVID-related deaths on Wednesday and 25,853 new infections. Italian health minister Roberto Speranza announced that on December 2, he would present the government's COVID-19 vaccination plan.

Speranza said, “The purchase of the vaccine will be centralized. I have very great faith in the regulatory agencies set up to ensure its safety, but we’ll still have to resist a few months, then a new phase will be opened; we can’t afford a third wave.”
The second COVID-19 wave has exposed Italy's critical shortage of intensive care staff, as many medics have chosen to leave the profession or opt for early retirement after the trauma experience from Italy's first wave in the spring.  
Italy’s doctors’ federation said that 27 medics had lost their lives within the last ten days, while nearly 27,000 health workers have become infected over the past month alone.
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