As coronavirus continues to ravage Italy among other countries in the world, ethnic chinese living in Prato, Italy stands out as the strongest community to health officials managing the spread of the COVID-19.
Chinese residents in Italy were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, insults and violent attack by native Italians who feared the chinese were spreading the virus via Italy, just two months ago.
In Tuscan town of Prato which is home to Italy’s biggest single Chinese community, contrary is the case. The have ‘graduated’ from scapegoats to a community that is now held up by authorities as a model for early, strict adoption of infection-control measures.
“Italians feared that the Chinese in Prato would be the problem. Instead, they did much better than us,” said Renzo Berti, top health official for the region that extends to Florence.
Berti added that the Chinese in Prato havent had even single case of COVID19 contagion while referring to the disease that has claimed over 12,000 lives in Italy more than any other country in the world.
The 50,000 Ethnic Chinese only make up about a quarter of the population in Prato town, Berti credits them with bringing down the entire town’s infection rate to almost half the Italian average of about 62 cases per 100,000 inhabitants versus 115 for the country.
Chinese community in Prato that is built around the textile industry went into lock down from the end of January, three weeks before Italy recorded its first positive coronavirus case.
That is when many had returned from new year holidays in China, the epicenter of the pandemic. They acted like they knew what was ahead of them and chose to stay at home as Italians went out to bars, churches and crowded in cafes.
More than 360 families, or around 1,300 people in Prato registered as having put themselves into self-isolation as they signed up to his authority’s health surveillance scheme, which monitors symptoms remotely and communicated with them in Chinese.
When Italian infections began rising in late February some families, many of whom still retain their Chinese citizenship began sending children to relatives back in China. They were alarmed at the attitude and behavior of Italians around them.