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Covid-19: Interview to the Ambassador Prunas by the newspaper Al-Raya

The Ambassador of Italy to the State of Qatar, H.E. Alessandro Prunas, was interviewed by the newspaper Al-Raya about the measures adopted by the Italian Authorities in order to contain the spread of Covid-19 and the cooperation between Italy and Qatar in the common fight against the novel Coronavirus.

1. What are the aspects of Qatar-Italy cooperation to combat the Coronavirus pandemics?

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Qatari Authorities for the strong support received so far. From the very beginning of the emergency, when our Country was one of the first to be severely affected, we knew Qatar was on our side in the fight against the novel Coronavirus. This was reiterated to me in a very friendly and productive conference call I had today with H.E. Sheikha Hind, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation. Italy and Qatar share a longstanding friendship and, when it comes to going through difficult times, it is reassuring to know that we can mutually count on this close relationship. His Highness the Amir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, was one of the first world leaders to call the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to offer help and assistance. This call opened up to a new path in the bilateral cooperation between our Countries, which includes now also the common fight against Covid-19. Our institutions in the field of medicine and science are finding ways to urgently establish collaborative projects aimed at contributing to the containment and resolution of the Coronavirus pandemic. I am referring to cooperation that Qatar Foundation research capabilities established with some major Italian genetists to study data and understand if there are genetic patterns in the Covid-19 pandemic. I am also making reference to the Qatar Foundation Hospital Mater Olbia in Sardinia, which has reiterated his willingness to play its part in the treatment of patients in Italy, also associating the Hamad Medical Corporation to explore new therapies. Our gratitude goes also to the Qatari Ministry of Defense and Qatar Fund for Development which are currently in contact with the Italian Authorities to identify ways to help in the fight against the pandemic.

2. To what extent have Qatar Airways helped in solving the problem of stranded passengers and repatriate them home?

Indeed, the contribution made by Qatar Airways in terms of ensuring the mobility of passengers has proved to be essential. QA is one of the few companies which have maintained international connections, allowing people stranded around the world to go home safely. The Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has recently expressed in a phone call to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, H.E. Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani, our appreciation for the cooperation ensured in keeping open the transit of passengers through the Hamad International Airport. The connection provided by Qatar Airways with the Airport of Rome Fiumicino is of paramount importance for Italian nationals who are currently abroad and try to fly back to their families. In many destinations – especially in South-East Asia, Australia and New Zealand – Qatar Airways remains the only carrier that still operates, giving the possibility to many tourists and residents to repatriate. Furthermore, the import of strategic medical equipment is currently a top priority for Italy. We particularity commend the endeavor of Qatar Airways to expedite the cargo transit through Doha, thus playing a crucial role in allowing our Country to receive timely the needed medical supplies.

3. What are the developments in the fight against Coronavirus in Italy so far?

According to experts the situation is now improving and we can be cautiously optimistic about the way ahead. As explained by our Minister for European Affairs Vincenzo Amendola in an interview he gave last night to Al Jazeera Arabic, the containment measures promptly taken by the Italian Authorities to reduce the epidemic have proved to be effective and we have just started to see the first results as the curve of infections is slightly stabilizing. The lockdown of cities, the isolation and social distancing have begun to pay off but we must continue on this way not to vanish the achievements reached so far. In this regard, the Italian Authorities have recently decided to extend further the measures in place, showing tenacious commitment to tackle the Covid-19 emergency. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Italy has always acted transparently towards the International Community, sharing clear information on the developments of the epidemic and adopting strict measures to contain the spread of the virus. I would like to commend also our citizens living in Italy as much as abroad, who have proved to be responsible, resilient and willing to make sacrifices. Many families have lost their beloved ones without having the chance to say goodbye or the possibility to assist them. My thoughts and prayers are with all the people in pain because of the pandemic. We are very touched by the many spontaneous messages of sympathy received so far by Qataris for the victims of Coronavirus in Italy, a sign of the true and deep bonds of friendship.

4. How do you see the precautionary measures taken by Qatar to combat the virus outbreak?

I would like to praise local Authorities for the timely measures taken to contain the spread of the novel Coronavirus in Qatar and the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management for its effective handling of the emergency. They have shown determination, responsibility and preparedness in taking urgent accurate provisions to protect the health of Qatari people and the many expatriate communities. In our communications with the Italian citizens living in the Country, we have been constantly encouraging them to carefully respect the measures taken so far as they have been decided to safeguard lives. As much as Italy, Qatar is committed to share with the International Community transparent information on the epidemic.

5. In the light of recent remote meetings with the Assistant Foreign Minister, what is the importance of Doha keenness to keep you informed of the developments in the fight against the virus?

We highly commend the key role played by the Assistant Foreign Minister, H.E. Lolwah Al-Khater, who showed leadership and determination in such a challenging and unprecedented situation. From the very beginning of the emergency, the Embassy of Italy could count on the support and assistance of Her Excellency. We have been working in close partnership to solve critical issues and cases, always maintaining continuous and direct contacts with her office. The activated communication channels have proved to be very efficient in providing the diplomatic community and expatriates with timely updates on the situation and the measures adopted in the Country.


In the following, you will find the link to the interview in Arabic language.