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Italy calls in warzone doctor to sort out Calabria COVID-19 health crisis

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The Italian government on Monday called upon one of the country’s leading emergency healthcare experts, who usually operates in warzones, to help sort out a growing coronavirus health crisis in the southern region of Calabria.

Gino Strada, who founded the Emergency NGO to aid civilian victims of war, has agreed to work alongside a new health commissioner in the toe of Italy, which is struggling to cope with a wave of coronavirus infections, the government said.

A surgeon himself, Strada has set up hospitals in conflict zones around the world, including Sudan and Afghanistan. He made no immediate comment on Monday about the possible new role.

Healthcare in Calabria, one of Italy’s poorest areas, has come sharply into focus this month, with two health chiefs being forced to quit in swift succession because of doubts over their ability to handle the coronavirus crisis.

Saverio Cotticelli resigned from the post on Nov. 7 after acknowledging in a television interview that the region did not have an emergency COVID-19 plan in place. He claimed it was not his responsibility, only to discover that it was.

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