An Italian virologist has said that fears of being accused of racism slowed the Italian government’s initial response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic.
Dr. Giorgio Palù is a Professor of Virology and Microbiology at the University of Padova, and he was formerly the President of the European and Italian Society for Virology.
In an interview with CNN, he said that the reason the disease has struck Italy so fiercely is because the government delayed imposing travel restrictions on people coming from China until it was too late. He said the country’s response was “lazy in the beginning” because of “too much politics.”
“There was a proposal to isolate people coming from the epicenter, coming from China,” Palù told CNN. “Then it became seen as racist, but they were people coming from the outbreak.”
Since then, Italy has become the hardest-hit country in the world after China, and has had the most victims in Europe by far. The first confirmed cases of the infection in Italy were found in two Chinese tourists in January.
As of now there have been nearly 36,000 confirmed cases, and nearly 4,000 people have died from the disease.
The shortsightedness of Italy’s government regarding the virus as a result of political correctness has not been limited to the national government.
Dario Nardella, the Mayor of Florence, who is from the Left-wing Democratic Party, was urging Italians to “hug a Chinese” in early February out of concerns that coronavirus fears were leading to racism against the Chinese. Nardella even tweeted a video of himself hugging a Chinese man.
#coronavirus: seguiamo le indicazioni delle autorità sanitarie e usiamo cautela, ma nessun terrorismo psicologico e soprattutto basta con i soliti sciacalli che non vedevano l’ora di usare questa scusa per odiare e insultare. Uniti in questa battaglia comune! #AbbracciaUnCinese pic.twitter.com/pUdqEl0piW
— Dario Nardella (@DarioNardella) February 1, 2020
Other videos from February show Chinese people getting hugs from Italian passersby.
Northern Italy has now become the epicenter of the outbreak in Italy.
The Governor of Lombardy has recently warned citizens that they must follow the curfew strictly as the hospitals will soon be overwhelmed with patients, as reported by La Repubblica, and after that it may no longer be possible to treat all of the victims.
Hungary has not hesitated to point out the link between immigration and the coronavirus epidemic.
“We have seen that it was mostly foreigners who brought in the disease, and that it is mostly spreading among foreigners,” Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, said on Friday, as previously reported by Voice of Europe.
“We are fighting a two-front war. One front is called migration, and the other one belongs to the coronavirus.”