Diary from Rome: Lockdown in eyes of Chinese student in Italy

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Editor's note: Italy has been in lockdown for two weeks to contain the novel coronavirus pandemic. Grandesso Federico, an Italian national residing in Padova, northern Italy, records his observations and interactions in the lockdown.

by Grandesso Federico

PADOVA, Italy, March 24 (Xinhua) -- After more than two weeks of lockdown in Padova, I talked to Jing Wang, a Chinese student staying here, curious to know how she feels, far from home, in this difficult situation. Wang, who is working on her master's degree in economics at Padova University, had surprisingly also experienced the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

Both the Chinese and Italian governments have taken the necessary lockdown measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Wang said. "Both countries have closed the shops, schools and banned the gatherings of people."

But she stressed that the rules and enforcement in China were more strict: almost everyone stayed at home, and in some instances, one member from each household went out only once every two days. In the hardest-hit place in China, she said, public transportation came to a halt and private vehicles were banned except for an absolutely essential reason.

"We have not felt panic here and our lives have not been affected too much. Everyone consciously keeps a safe distance of more than one meter while shopping in the supermarket, and most people also wear masks in public places," she said.

"In China, the e-commerce and logistics sectors are very developed, so Chinese people can use their mobile phones to order everything they want at home," Wang said. We in Italy also do online shopping, but at a smaller scale and with less convenience.

Online learning, however, is working well for her, she noted. "Schools and universities offered online courses for us."

Another positive episode is the songs and music from people's balconies, she said, which "makes us feel relaxed from the coronavirus stress. I think that both countries have adopted their own methods to control the epidemic, having guaranteed a basic normal life for the people. China and Italy both did a good job," she said.

As a student of economics, Wang said in China the government put in place a series of measures like delaying loan payments for companies, reducing the interest rate for loans and supporting businesses with incentives. These policies, she said, could be of reference for the Italian government.

One particular aspect about the Italian economy, she said, is the tourism sector. "Italy is a beautiful country and I think that when this crisis is over, tourists will come back."

Wang was in Mali six years ago, working as an accounting manager. There, she got into contact with a Chinese medical team which was there helping with the fight against Ebola.

"I could see how they helped local people, collaborating with local doctors and supporting the hospitals in Mali," she said, adding that she is glad to see Chinese experts coming to Italy. Enditem

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