The emergency supplies were due to arrive in Milan, the capital of Italy’s severely hit Lombardy region, after being transported by road from the Czech Republic.
The delivery follows the despatch by the Czechs of a similar cargo of 10,000 protective suits and 90 respirators to Spain last night.
Both deliveries were organised via Nato’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Co-ordination Centre, which has been asked for assistance by Spain and Italy and responded after what it described as a “generous” act of “solidarity in action” by the Czech authorities.
The emergency supplies came as Spain, Europe’s second worst affected country after Italy, today strengthened its lockdown by ordering all “non-essential” workers to stay at home.
The restrictions will apply until at least April 9 and were announced by the Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
Employees forced to stay at home will be paid but expected to do extra hours in future months to make up the lost time at work. The measures came into force as Spain’s number of infections surpassed those reported in China, with cases rising today to 85,195. The death toll in Spain rose by 812 to 7,340.
Voice actor Salvador Vives, 78, was named today as one of the victims. He dubbed Jeremy Irons in the 2004 film Merchant Of Venice and Pierce Brosnan in Mars Attacks! from 1996.
The face of Spain’s fight against coronavirus has tested positive. Fernando Simon, 57, the emergency health director, had been delivering daily updates during televised press briefings.
The head of Spain’s emergency services has warned that intensive care units are at full capacity in six out of 17 regions in a further sign of the struggle.
Elsewhere in Europe, France was launching an app to measure the number of lives claimed by the virus in care homes.
In Germany, reported infections were up by eight per cent. The country’s public health agency said today there were 57,298 cases, up 4,751 from yesterday.
The death toll was 455, an increase of 66.
Volker Bouffier, the governor of Hesse province, said it appeared his finance minister Thomas Schaefer had taken his own life over fears about managing the coronavirus crisis.