Italians witness China-Italy joint fight against virus crisis

NANJING: Mauro Benvenuto, an Italian captain of China Eastern Airlines, took a vacation last month and returned to his hometown of Rome, where he never expected the coronavirus would break out.
“I felt that Italy was quite safe at that time, with only a few confirmed cases,” Benvenuto said, adding that as soon as he got back, he took the measure of a two-week home quarantine which he had learned in China’s fight against the virus.
But before Benvenuto finished his quarantine period, the coronavirus began to hit Italy and the confirmed infection cases climbed quickly, which led to the Italian government announcing it was sealing off the whole country on March 10, so as to curb contagion.
Benvenuto thought the closure of cities would be an effective move as he learned back in China that staying home is key to preventing the spread of coronavirus.
“My family and friends in Rome are taking the initiative to stay home, and we believe we will get through this,” Benvenuto told Xinhua over the phone.
Benvenuto has worked with China Eastern Airlines as the captain of an Airbus A320 since he settled down in the east China city of Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, in 2014.
Earlier this month, China Eastern Airlines sent an A350 plane to escort nine Chinese medical experts and 31 tonnes of medical supplies on a direct flight from Shanghai to Rome.
Benvenuto was proud and thrilled to talk about it on social media with his Italian friends.
The Shanghai-Rome air route operated by China Eastern Airlines opened nine years ago and has benefited from the Belt and Road Initiative which Italy has also joined. More than 1 million passengers have taken flights on the route.
Benvenuto said he has received many greeting messages from his colleagues in Nanjing, who are concerned about his family’s health and safety. “This is what true friendship is like! I told them that my neighbors and I sang on the balcony. We will get over it. I will go back to work in China as soon as it is over,” Benvenuto said.
Benvenuto’s fellow Italian Antonino Scordo is a chef currently working at a luxury hotel in Nanjing, and he has been concerned about the pandemic situation of Italy, especially his hometown, the city of Sorrento where his parents and friends live. – Agencies