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Albania sends 30 doctors and nurses to Italy to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic

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The leaders of Italy and Albania, Giuseppe Conte and Edi Rama, in January 2020
The leaders of Italy and Albania, Giuseppe Conte and Edi Rama, in January 2020   -   Copyright  Alessandra Tarantino/The Associated Press
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Albania has sent 30 doctors and nurses to Italy, the worst-hit country in Europe amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Albanian Prime minister announced on Saturday.

The Albanian medical team was escorted to theTirana aiport by Albania's PM Edi Rama, the leader announced on his Facebook page.

The Albanian doctors, Rama said, will go to Italy's Lombardy region "to help their Italian colleagues".

"Today we are all Italian", Rama said during a brief speech at the airport. "Italy will win this battle."

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Publiée par Edi Rama sur Samedi 28 mars 2020

Lombardy, in northern Italy, is the worst-hit Italian region in the crisis, making up over half of the country's total death toll.

Albania recently asked 2,000 retired doctors to temporarily come back to work to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The country is facing a penury of doctors, with only 1,2 doctors for 1,000 citizens, compared to Italy's 4,1 for 1,000 people, according to the World Health Organization.

The doctors and nurses, who will stay a month in Italy, will be paid by the Albanian government, the country's authorities said.

Italy has an important Albanian community, with around 400,000 Albanians living in the country.

In the western Balkans, including Albania, the spread of the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating.

This poor European region is preparing for the worst, due a health system lacking in equipment and in doctors, who emigrate in droves.

In Albania, which has a population of 2,8 million, 10 people have died of COVID-19 and 200 have been infected.