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Chinese couple, first COVID-19 patients in Italy, donate $40,000 to research at the hospital that treated them


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Paola Belletti - published on 07/13/20

They showed their gratitude with an attempt to return the generosity they were shown far from home.

The Chinese couple who were the first cases of SARS-CoV2 in Italy were hospitalized and treated at the Inmi Spallanzani Hospital in Rome. Since being discharged in mid-March, they have donated $40,000 for research on COVID-19 to that institute, which specializes in infectious diseases.

Alessio D’Amato, Councillor for Health of the Lazio Region, wrote in a statement quoted in the news outlet La Repubblica,

“The decision to make a donation to the Spallanzani Institute is an act of great generosity and gratitude. There is a Chinese proverb that reads, ‘The person who returns from a trip is never the same one who left.’ The Wuhan couple’s journey and story … will remain impressed in their and our memory. I would therefore like to thank them and invite them to return to Rome.”

When their case began to be a media phenomenon, no one had any idea about what would happen in the past few months. They were “only” two Chinese tourists affected by a virus, a case that anyone would have expected to remain a rate exception—people deserving of compassion, albeit from a distance.

Instead, the virus has continued to spread throughout Italy and the world, and it has become such a powerful phenomenon that we now expect to think in terms of “before” and “after” it showed up.


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In this difficult time when some countries are finally beginning to establish a new post-coronavirus normal, the news of the couple’s donation comes as a breath of fresh air, as sincere gratitude usually does. They’ve been treated with great competence and humanity, they’ve both been healed, and now that their lives are back to an acceptable normality, they’ve turned around to say thank you.

The article in La Repubblica continues,

“Husband and wife, respectively 66 and 67 years old, came from the province of Wuhan and arrived last January 23 at Milan Malpensa airport. Together with their entire group, they had come for a tour through the Italian provinces, and had visited various destinations in northern Italy. They were supposed to continue on through southern Italy. The first person to experience the symptoms was the husband, while the woman, positive but initially asymptomatic, developed the disease in the following days.”

The news of this donation is beautiful in many ways, an appreciation of generosity and gratitude.


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