With more than 31,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Italy, and the country essentially on lockdown, Samaritan’s Purse is airlifting a 68-bed emergency field hospital to Milan in an effort to aid Italy’s overwhelmed health care system.
“We are always ready to provide critical relief in the face of crisis,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Samaritan’s Purse’s DC-8 aircraft left Greensboro, North Carolina, the morning of March 17, carrying approximately 20 tons of medical equipment, a respiratory care unit and 32 disaster relief personnel, including doctors, nurses and respiratory specialists, who will stay in the country for at least a month.
“We are going to Italy to provide lifesaving care to people who are suffering,” added Franklin. “There is a lot of fear and panic around the world, but we trust that God is in control. We continue to pray for everyone affected by this global health crisis and for our medical team as they respond.”
To date, Italy has the highest number of deaths from the COVID-19 coronavirus besides mainland China. According to The New York Times, Italy has the oldest population in Europe, with about 23% of residents 65 or older.
Samaritan’s Purse says it is the first international organization to provide emergency medical relief to those impacted by this deadly virus in northern Italy.
“We have an unbelievable staff willing to do this and share the hope of Jesus Christ along with their medical expertise,” said Edward Graham, assistant to the vice president of International Response and Franklin’s youngest son.
The organization’s Incident Management Team says it is continuing to monitor the developing situation and is prepared to respond in the United States if asked.
Are you worried about COVID-19? The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has phone lines dedicated to your coronavirus concerns where team members are available to listen, and offer prayer and encouragement. Call the BGEA Prayer Line at 1-888-388–2683. Lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Photo: Courtesy of Samaritan's Purse