Aid worker flies to coronavirus epicentre

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Taynuilt aid worker John Murphy is helping build and run a 68-bed coronavirus hospital in Italy.

Self-employed maintenance man John flew out to the virus epicentre on Saturday taking three flights to get to Milan via Amsterdam and Munich.

Although he arrived safely to take on the role of logistics manager for Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse and its hospital project, his bag with all his clothes and other personal belongings went missing.

But he is carrying on with his mission regardless, says wife Louise.

Samaritan’s Purse uses funds pre-supported by Christian-giving to get volunteers out where they are needed when disasters strike.

The inflatable-type hospital was flown out and set up in a hospital car park in Cremona, Lombardy – the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

‘It’s a modern version of a MASH type field hospital, like they had in the old TV show. We also have a pharmacy, a male ward, female ward and an intensive care ward,’ said John before he left Scotland.

In the past five years he has served with Samaritan’s Purse in hurricane-struck Bahamas, Nepal after an earthquake, war-torn Iraq and in the Greek Islands helping refugees.

‘I’ll be supporting the field hospital. It could be anything from organising people, supplies, pillows more beds, moving staff and supplies out.

‘When I was sent to Iraq, it was dangerous but I felt I would be okay. This mission  feels different. The risk of getting coronavirus is so high. I’m not scared I’m going to die but I’m nervous in a different way,’ he said.

John will be out in Italy for four weeks before returning to Taynuilt for two-weeks self quarantine.

To support the work of Samaritan’s Purse go to samaritans-purse.org.uk to make a donation.

‘It is an incredible charity but it’s not so well known in the UK. They do great things and getting more support means more work they could do,’ added John.