*Measure is an expression of close bilateral relationship: Qatar's ambassador to Italy
* Heartfelt thanks, says Italian FM

A shipment of aid and medical supplies was delivered to Italy on Monday upon the directives of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to send medical aid to Italy "in support of the efforts of the Italian friends" to confront and contain the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Qatar Fund for Development said the 29-tonne shipment, which was delivered by air transport planes of the Qatar Amiri Air Force, is part of a total of 260 tonnes of aid to be delivered by 12 flights, according to a report by the official Qatar News Agency (QNA).

The medical assistance "comes within the framework of the efforts of Qatar and its supportive stance towards brotherly and friendly countries to help them overcome this crisis, and it comes from joint international responsibility in combating the spread of this epidemic, which represents a common threat to the whole world", the QNA report states.

On April 8, Qatar launched a 'medical air bridge' to transport urgent medical aid to Italy as C-17 transport aircraft of the Qatar Amiri Air Force delivered two field hospitals, equipment and medical supplies.

The area of the first field hospital is about 5,200sqm, while the second hospital covers about 4,000sqm, with a combined capacity of 1,000 beds for the two hospitals.

Qatar's ambassador to Italy Abdulaziz bin Ahmed al-Malki described the directives of His Highness the Amir to send medical aid to the friendly Italian Republic in support of its efforts to address and contain the Covid-19 outbreak "as an expression of the close relationship between the two friendly countries, as well as a sign of solidarity and co-ordination of common visions between the Qatari and Italian peoples", QNA added.

In his remarks on the occasion of the arrival of four Qatari aid aircraft in Italy on Monday, al-Malki affirmed that the relations between Doha and Rome are excellent, adding that Qatar is confident that the friendly Italian Republic will overcome the ordeal of the coronavirus with the co-operation of all.

He stressed the need for everyone to unite in order to eliminate the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Italian embassy in Doha gave an English translation of a tweet by Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio, which said: “Qatar just sent its 10th flight: besides the two field hospitals for 500 patients each (one will be placed in Veneto and the other in Basilicata), the Qatari government donated additional medical aid. Heartfelt thanks to those standing by the Italian people."

Earlier in the day, the Italian embassy tweeted about more Qatar Amiri Air Force aircraft flying to Italy with ventilators, masks and medical equipment donated by Qatar Fund for Development to support Italian healthcare professionals. "We are touched by Qatar’s generosity and will never forget your friendship," it noted.