Updated: March 20, 2020 04:59 AM GMT
An elderly woman wearing a protective face mask sits on a bench in the city centre of Milan on March 8 after millions of people were placed under forced quarantine in northern Italy. (Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP)
Catholics in a diocese in China's Shaanxi province has donated thousands of face masks to communities in the Vatican and Italy to help them fight the coronavirus.
Some Catholics of Xi'an Diocese have donated 24,000 disposable medical masks to the Vatican and religious communities and dioceses in Italy such as Milan and Bologna."When mainland China experienced the epidemic, the Holy See and the Italian Church group helped by sending medical masks. We have now effectively contained the virus but Italy is now suffering. It is our turn to help them," Father Chen Ruixue of Xi'an told UCA News.
Italy has overtaken China in terms of deaths with 3,405 fatalities from 41,035 cases. Some 475 people died in Italy on March 18 alone.Father Chen pointed out that China has good relations with both the Vatican and Italy. The Vatican has donated masks to China since January.
The Archdiocese of Milan covers the hardest-hit area of Italy and some groups and families in Milan have supported the students of the Shaanxi Theological Institute for many years, he said.
Father Chen also said that several church members had privately funded the donation."Italy needs help now. We will continue to do our best to raise more materials to donate to them to fight the epidemic," he said.
"We sincerely hope that these donations, however small they are, will help some people. It will also help promote the friendship between China and the Vatican, and China and Italy."
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