Italy’s largest Chinese community praised for obeying strict prevention rules

By Han Shuo in Italy Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/2 1:08:40

A bus of line 1314 in Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang Province, is seen on a road Thursday, decorated in the colors of Italy's national flag with a slogan reading "Forza, Italia" to boost morale for people in the COVID-19 epidemic-hit country. Italy had 69,176 confirmed cases as of Wednesday. Photo: cnsphoto

With Italy having been severely stricken by the COVID-19 pandemic, the country's largest Chinese community has been praised for its residents' self-discipline in taking early and strict measures to avoid infection by the virus.

Prato in Tuscany has the largest Chinese community not just in Italy but in Europe, with about 50,000 Chinese people living there, accounting for a quarter of Prato's population. Currently, more than 300,000 Chinese citizens live in Italy.

"Among Chinese residents in Prato, there isn't even one case of COVID infection," Renzo Berti, a local state health official, was quoted as saying by Reuters on Wednesday.

"We Italians feared that the Chinese in Prato were to be the problem. Instead, they did much better than us," he said.

Two months ago, the Chinese in Italy were seen as a potential source of the virus, and were insulted or discriminated against. Now, the Chinese community has become a model for Italy in confronting the coronavirus.

The Italian media said that this is the result of the Chinese community's self-discipline and self-control. Many Chinese in Italy are happy to obey the local government's policies. When the government suggested self-isolation and monitoring of health, more than 360 Chinese households with 1,300 people registered immediately.

Long before the Italian government's rules on COVID-19, even as early as in February, many Chinese people in Prato had chosen to stay at home and supervise each other. Also, before the government ordered the closure of schools in Italy, many Chinese parents kept their children at home instead of letting them go to schools or kindergartens.

"Staying at home is being responsible for yourself, your family, the Chinese community and our society," Chen Luna, who runs a restaurant in Prato, told the Global Times.

Chinese people in Italy have had an awareness toward the pandemic. "Many of us came back to Italy after celebrating Spring Festival in China. Being afraid of spreading the virus, we were very alert and strengthened our prevention."

Chen said that many Italians did not want to wear face masks. "We worried them a lot. We would remind our Italian friends to wear masks and gloves."

Meanwhile, many Chinese families across Italy have been doing one thing: putting masks in their neighborhoods' mailboxes. This has touched many Italians, who said they felt emotional when receiving the masks.

Some Italians took pictures of the donations they received from Chinese communities, saying "You are not only our neighbors, but our friends."

"We will do whatever we can to help those in need," said Zhou Jianhuang from the Overseas Chinese Service Center in Milan. "Now many Chinese in Italy are helping others. Italy is our second home. Only when Italy is getting better can the Chinese here live a good life. So we must lend a hand."

Zhang Jie, a Chinese man living in Milan, said that Chinese people have helped each other amid this pandemic and he is very proud.

The Chinese Embassy in Italy has also been keeping up communication with local Chinese people and helping them do the prevention work. 

On March 26, Li Junhua, the Chinese Ambassador to Italy, had a video meeting with 90 Chinese representatives in Italy. Li thanked the Chinese community for its great contribution to the battle against the outbreak and praised their awareness of prevention measures.

The Chinese medical team that went to Italy has also been welcomed by the Chinese community in the country. The second team, which was sent from East China's Zhejiang Province, helped the Chinese community with their disease prevention work in the Lombardy region, which is fighting the most severe outbreak in Italy.


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