Diary in Rome: From China with Love
Editor's note: The decree of the Italian government putting the country under lockdown went into effect on Tuesday, in a bid to prevent the ongoing coronavirus epidemic from spreading.
China has sent a team of experts to Italy, together with medical supplies. The following is a diary adapted from a team member's account to Xinhua of their busy schedule. His name is Yang Huichuan, vice-president of China National Biotec Group Co Ltd and an expert in blood products.
ROME, March 14 (Xinhua) -- I've come to Europe many times, but it is very different this time. My first impression in Rome is the Italians' overwhelming hospitality: from the airport, the customs to the hotel.
After entering my hotel room, a note in Chinese, English and Italian, with pictures of both Italian and Chinese national flags, on my desk, which read: "Italy, Rome and Trilussa Palace Hotel welcome you and thank you for your support. We stand together, we fight together, we win together."
Two local restaurateurs came to greet us near the hotel after seeing us wearing clothes with Red Cross logo. It really made us feel at home as they offered to help whenever we need.
In the last two days, we've been exchanging with different Italian institutions, including hospitals. We feel strongly that they really hope to have such exchanges with us.
We are sharing with them our latest prevention guidelines, diagnosis and treatment plan, as well as the convalescent plasma therapy.
The Italians were very interested in China's experience in fighting the virus -- from those working on technical details, those involved in diagnosis and treatment, to Red Cross members and diplomats -- they were all eager to meet us, as Italy is now at a stage of a rapid contagion.
For COVID-19, it all comes down to two things. One is prevention and control against its spread, which mostly depends on early detection, reporting, isolation and treatment, as well as pooling resources and expertise for centralized treatment of patients at centralized locations.
The other is diagnosis and treatment, e.g. how to diagnose? What treatment methods should be adopted for patents at different stages of the disease, depending on their their mild, ordinary or severe symptoms? What kind of drugs we have explored (in China) for treatment, including using traditional Chinese medicine, and convalescent plasma therapy.
Everyday, we get up early and have our own meeting at seven o'clock in the morning. After work, we return to the hotel at around six or seven o'clock in the afternoon. We also hold meetings at night, usually wrapping up around 10 p.m.
Today as we passed through the streets of Rome, which used to be lively and bustling, we saw almost no one and very few vehicles. I think this is a good thing, in some sense. Reducing the flow of people is a way of quarantine to curb the spread of infection. We underline the need for further quarantine for better containment.
We have brought with us medical supplies to Italy, including dozens of sets of intensive care equipment. Now the Italian side hopes to get more of these from across the world. They've realized that the key is to prevent the spread of the disease by making full and effective use of limited medical resources.
In the next two days, we might visit some hospitals in Rome, and plan to go to Lombardy region in the north, which has been hardest hit by the epidemic. We want to get a full picture of the situation in Italy, and after that it's possible to engage in more in-depth exchanges.