ANKARA, APR 9: Italy‘s ambassador to Ankara praised Turkey’s fight against the coronavirus citing its “robust” health system. “I think that Turkey performed extremely well against the pandemic. It was a global disaster, but Turkey with its very robust health system, with doctors and nurses, very well-trained, did well,” Massimo Gaiani said in an interview with Turkey’s Communication Directorate.

Gaiani said that casualties stayed low in the country.

Noting that Italy was the first European country to be hit by the pandemic, the envoy said they paid a “very high price” for that and other countries probably could learn from their experience.

He welcomed Turkey’s implementation of the vaccination campaign and said it was “a very generous offer by the Turkish government to include all permanent residents, even if they are not Turkish citizens, in the vaccination plan.”

“It’s also very generous that everyone is treated free of charge,” he said.

Gaiani said Italy has received over 8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. So far, more than 4 million people have received the first dose, while 2 million have gotten the second dose.

“I must say that Turkey did very well also on this front. And we are aware that you are very much ahead of many other countries in the vaccination program,” he said, adding that there was a shortage of vaccines on the global scale.

Since its vaccination campaign began on Jan. 14, Turkey has so far administered over 18.41 million coronavirus vaccine jabs nationwide, according to official figures.

Over 10.84 million people to date have received their first doses of the vaccine against coronavirus, while second vaccine doses were given to nearly 7.6 million.

The ambassador said that families had to live apart due to flight bans during the pandemic, and added that thanks to the technology he was able to communicate with his family in Italy.

He said when people could go out freely and drink a cup of coffee with their friends, they were not aware of the freedom. “But now that we cannot have them, we are missing them a lot.”

“Finally, I think that we have to be very careful,” he said, urging people to continue keeping social distance and wearing masks.

“It’s the only way forward along with a vaccine,” he said.