Doctors at Rome’s Lazzaro Spallanzani Hospital have managed to isolate the DNA of the deadly new Chinese coronavirus. Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the findings would be made available to the international medical community to boost efforts to find therapies for disease. The Spallanzani is a specialized hospital dealing in infectious diseases and is currently treating several Chinese tourists who have the virus, with one in the intensive care unit of the hospital. In a related story, the Vatican has shipped over 600,000 masks to China in efforts to help contain the flu. The Holy See paid for the masks that were collected by the Vatican Pharmacy from regions throughout Italy.
‘Bomba Day’ in Venice
Authorities in Venice mobilized last week in an effort to remove and defuse a World War II bomb that had been dropped 75 years ago. Over thirty-five hundred residents were evacuated, while transportation by boat, train and bus was halted during the four-hour operation from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm. Planes were also barred from flying to and from Venice’s Marco Polo Airport during that time frame. Local media dubbed the event “Bomba Day,” with many people sharing videos and photos on social media. The bomb surfaced during a maintenance crew’s excavations to repair sewer lines in the port of Marghera. Weighing 500 pounds and containing over 250 pounds of explosives, the bomb was later detonated at sea. Although Venice’s historic center was structurally spared from the fighting in World War II, the city’s surrounding areas were bombed during the final year of the war.
FCA-PSA Merger News
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is banking on the planned $50 billion merger with French Peugeot maker PSA Group to help it catch up with rival car companies. Fiat Chrysler continues to churn out robust profits in North America, where the manufacturer generates more than 90% of profit. However, both Maserati and Alfa Romeo are losing money in the U.S. market. There will be three managing centers for a new group resulting from a merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA. One will be in the U.S., one in France and one in Turin, announced Piedmont Governor Alberto Cirio. He added that he had been told that the merger will not have any effects for eleven months and that the new name will not affect the brands.
High Marks for Cancer Survival
Italy has the highest cancer-survival rates in the European Union, based on the period five years following diagnosis, according to an EU report. The five-year survival rate for prostate cancer is 90%, compared to an EU average of 87%, while the rate for breast cancer is 86%, compared to a European average of 83%. The results were announced at a conference in Bari. The survival rate for colon cancer is 64%, four points better than the EU average, while the rate for lung cancer is 16%, compared to 15% for Europe as a whole. The survivability for these cancers has shown a marked increase over the course of the last generation. In the case of prostate cancer, the survival rate in Italy was less than 80% in 1995. Researchers indicated that Italy’s low levels of preventable deaths can be explained, at least in part, by solid public health policies that have been implemented, especially during the past decade.
Italy’s women skiers bagged their fourth one-two of the season at a recent superG world championship event when Federica Brignone (at right) finished first ahead of Sofia Goggia. It was Brignone’s 14th career win and her fourth this season. She has also made the podium on another five occasions this year. In the all-time Italian women’s standings she is now behind only Deborah Compagnoni with 16 wins and Isolde Kostner with 15. The 29-year-old from Val d’Aosta is now the leader of the superG standings, adding to her lead in the giant slalom and combined standings. Goggia, from Bergamo, was pleased with her second place performance saying, “I was bit surprised at the finish line to see I was second, I really didn’t think I’d gone so fast.”
Two burglars in Piacenza have confessed to stealing and then returning a Klimt portrait which was recently declared to be authentic. It was found in the bowels of the museum from which it had been stolen. Additionally, police are investigating reports that a ransom was paid by a local bank. As was reported in Cronaca in the December 26, 2019 issue, the painting “Portrait of a Lady,” valued at more than $60 million, disappeared from Piacenza’s Ricci Oddi Modern Art Gallery in 1997 and was presumed stolen. During work to clean up ivy covering the gallery’s exterior wall, a space was uncovered, behind which there was a bag containing the picture. Mysteries still exist in the case. It has not been determined when the thieves replaced the painting, where it has been for the past two decades or whether the workmen who found the painting were tipped off by the burglars.