AGI – From Milan to Rome, passing through Prato, the Chinese community in Italy fears the second wave of the coronavirus more than the first. Last winter no fellow countryman was found positive, today the infected are over 50. To slam the door in the face of the virus, the Chinese arm themselves with masks – surprising themselves with the allergy of Italians to wear it – respect the distancing, avoid going out and 3 times a day they take a mixture of herbs, a remedy of traditional medicine. AGI spoke with the major representatives of the Chinese communities in Italy.
In Rome, the fear is greater than the first wave
The second wave of the coronavirus epidemic scares the Chinese community of Rome, which has emerged unscathed from the first. “In March we were more unprepared because the virus took us by surprise, but this time we have compatriots among the infected“Lucia King, spokeswoman for the Chinese community in Rome and chairman of the coronavirus emergency committee in the capital, explains to AGI. The exact number is not there but, says King,” so far there are over 50 positive Chinese. There are reports from all Chinese communities in Italy. The second wave is scarier than the first because the virus is spreading “. Also” here in the Esquiline there were the first infections and the result was that several shops recently opened closed their business. In total, since the beginning of the epidemic, more than a third of the Chinese restaurants in Rome have lowered their shutters forever “.
Meanwhile, the Chinese at home in Piazza Vittorio, but also in the rest of the capital, carefully observe the anti-Covid rules. “We are very strict. We have always been, since last January,” continues King. “The Chinese adore gatherings: banquets, dinners, all forms of aggregation. But since February we have suspended all events. Some have also closed their businesses waiting for better times. We Chinese are very cautious. We avoid taking flights and returning to China. It is not forbidden, just observe 14 days of quarantine, of which 7 in hotels indicated by the government and 7 at home, but now there is no need to move. “Discipline even among the youngest:” I have two boys who attend superior. In the morning they go to school and then go home. Friends meet them on cell phones and on PCs “, says Alessia Jiang, director of a Chinese cultural association that also collaborates with the Galileo Galilei Institute.” The Chinese avoid going out, but everyone else doesn’t, you live as if there was nothing and this scares us a lot “, he continues.
“We have suspended all Chinese language courses in the presence – adds Jiang -. We do some online, but they are few because several families of previously enrolled students have returned to China. I do not know if definitively, they will certainly stay there. for this long period of pandemic “. Jiang’s is a sort of after-school activity that engages Chinese children and teenagers after classes in Italian state institutes. And for Italian natives it is an opportunity to learn more about their origins.
“Many parents have asked me for advice on whether to send their children to school or not. They are afraid of infections, but I always recommend doing it. You cannot neglect school”, he stresses. In the meantime we proceed with the well-known rules: distancing, washing hands and masks. But with one more tip: “A remedy that comes from traditional Chinese medicine: a blend of herbs that strengthens the immune system“, suggests King. A magic potion that” we take three times a day and that they also used in Wuhan “.
An advice to Italians also comes from the Chinese community in Rome: “Believe in masks“, is the appeal of the spokesperson.” The demonstrations against the masks make no sense. The same story of the seat belt repeats itself: when it became mandatory no one wanted to wear it, even then there were detractors. Then it became a habit. No Chinese leaves the house without a mask. The embassy and the associations recommend using it but it is not even needed, we already do “.
Mistrust and racist episodes towards the Chinese have also abated: “Finally we no longer suffer discrimination. And I also tell America that it is useless to attack us. Sooner or later the truth will come out.” Lucia King is optimistic: “If China has made it with one billion and 400 million people, so will Italy”.
In Prato the productive fabric is suffering
“In the Chinese community of Prato today there is great concern. Obviously it varies from person to person, but three weeks ago the first cases of contagion appeared and the fear grew. In the first wave, thanks to a scrupulous lockdown and the application of every precaution, there were no infections; but today the first cases are experienced with great anxiety “. Thus Marco Wong, Prato city councilor elected last year on the list of Mayor Matteo Biffoni, speaking with AGI about the new wave of pandemic. “There are Chinese citizens – says Wong – who, worried about the evolution of the pandemic, have returned to China or are considering returning. The situation is normal there today; outbreaks reappear from time to time but the numbers are very low. from Italy there are those who want to return to China, despite facing difficulties, because for those arriving from abroad today a swab and quarantine are necessary “.
The situation of the virus in China today has greatly improved and is almost back to normal, explains Wong, but this is also because “there are practices and provisions applied in China that would not have been possible in Italy. One of the reasons why they came out earlier there pandemic is because the lockdown was much more rigid and the tracking system more effective, but we are talking about a different social context and it would have been impossible to adopt similar measures here, because each country has its own cultural and social particularities “.
The long fight against the virus has had consequences also on the production reality of the Chinese community of Prato: “The strongest backlash – adds the municipal councilor – was felt above all by those who work for major events, such as the restaurants that served the community for weddings and parties, which today are in great difficulty. As well as services , event organizers, travel agencies, who experience the same difficulties as their Italian colleagues “. The effects of the pandemic have also been felt in the food sector, above all in restaurants, while “those who supply shops, and the same Chinese household goods shops have continued their activities, under the same conditions as Italian suppliers and shopkeepers”.
A separate discussion for the fashion sector, flagship of Prato production: “The clothing factories – concludes Wong – are resuming their activities and are organizing themselves to overcome the difficulties associated with foreign relations, given that agents, buyers and customers cannot travel, and there are problems with purchases from China. But the sector is starting to work “.
Teresa Lin, 24, a municipal councilor from Prato, born in Italy to a Chinese family and graduated in the USA, tells AGI: “In February-March everyone was attentive, it was the beginning of the pandemic and the concern was felt. Then in Italy after the lockdown the numbers went down and people started dating again; today that the numbers have started to grow again we have stopped going out and participating in events, now there is only home and work. And great attention to the use of masks and gels “.
The Chinese community of Prato, one of the most important in Italy, faces the pandemic with attention: in the first phase, in February, the strict compliance with the rules prevented the virus from spreading, and also the returns to Italy from China, albeit initially viewed with great concern, they did not lead to positive cases.
Today the situation has reversed and China seems to be a safer country: “My mother had returned to China in July for some commitments – Lin says – and today, given the situation like other fellow citizens, she decided to stay there, at least for the moment. . In China the situation is better, they stopped wearing masks and during the mid-autumn holidays, at the beginning of October, there was also a resumption of internal travel “.
In Tuscany the infections continue to remain high: yesterday they dropped below the 500 cases that had instead been exceeded daily in recent days, and there is concern. “Let’s see if the numbers continue to increase – adds Lin – and we must pay the utmost attention to see if we can control the spread”. An issue that affects everyone equally, Chinese and Italians. “It takes everyone’s responsibility and maximum respect for the rules – concludes the municipal councilor of Prato -: the use of masks and respect for the safety distance. If we apply these rules carefully, the situation will not get worse. “
The community of Milan took precautions even before the dpcm
The Chinese community in Milan “is worried and, in fact, has already been following the rules imposed by the last Dpcm for a long time before they were introduced”. Francesco Wu, representative of foreign entrepreneurs in the Milanese Confcommercio and one of the most charismatic personalities of the Chinese community in Milan, tells AGI. A tangible feeling in via Sarpi, where on the shop windows, often with masks of all shapes on display, more sheets with cautionary recommendations are stuck than in the rest of the city.
“You avoid meeting – explains Wu – few visits to the house, zero parties, birthdays. We think about work in a sober way. Many shopkeepers use Fp2 masks instead of surgical ones. This increases the perception of security “.
One of the most discussed topics among the Chinese inhabitants of Milan, adds Wu, “is that of school, both for the fear of children being infected in the classroom and spread the contagion to adults, both because one of the prospects could be that of the closure of schools with the repercussions on working parents. “So far, the Chinese entrepreneurial ‘system’ has shown great resistance to the effects of the pandemic.” closed their businesses in very few, Chinese companies are family-run, so they are more solid. Furthermore, the Chinese mentality is peasant, dedicated to saving, which has allowed the creation of ‘social safety nets’.
“We try to be calm, to be rigorous but to live as normal a life as possible – says Silvia, speaking from the cash desk, behind the plexiglass screen of one of the most famous butchers in via Sarpi – in any case we are ready to face a new emergency, now we know how to do it, for example with home deliveries we would be better prepared “.
The ‘historic’ Chinese cultural center on the iconic street of Chinatown Milan instead made a more drastic choice. “We have decided to close as a precaution,” explains a woman who opens the door and reveals the void in one of the liveliest places in the city where language courses, Chinese chess, kung-fu and much more are organized.