Italian virus survivor tells German leader: Germany saved me

Health

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, is flanked by Italian President Sergio Mattarella after visiting the Duomo gothic cathedral, in Milan, Italy, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Steinmeier is scheduled to meet doctors, medical staff and former patients to discuss the coronavirus pandemic and Germany’s support to Italy during his two-day visit. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

MILAN (AP) — An Italian coronavirus survivor from Bergamo warmly thanked Germany’s visiting president on Thursday for lifesaving treatment he received in the eastern Germany city of Leipzig.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier met medical personnel who treated coronavirus patients during his visit to Milan, the capital of hard-hit Lombardy. But an emotional high-point was a brief exchange with Felice Perani, 57, who called Germany his new ‘’second mother’’ because ’’it gave me my life back.”

‘’If I hadn’t gone to Germany, I would have died,’’ Perani told Steinmeier, as Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella looked on. All three wore masks. German hospitals with excess capacity took in dozens of Italian patients as hospitals and intensive care wards in northern Italy were overwhelmed by the virus, with daily deaths in the thousands.

Perani said though they didn’t have a common language, the medical personnel in Germany ‘’spoke with their eyes. They were moved, and cried.’’ He said: ‘’They treated me like a son, a brother.’’

‘’This makes me so happy,” Steinmeier responded. Mattarella added, ‘’This is a beautiful story. Congratulations on your recovery.”

Steinmeier noted that Italy was his first foreign trip since pandemic travel restrictions eased. Milan was chosen as the capital of the worst-hit region by the pandemic in Italy.

During the visit, Steinmeier and Mattarella met with mayors from sister cities from the two countries, visited the Duomo cathedral and were attending a concert at Milan’s La Scala opera house celebrating the 250th anniversary of German composer Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth.

‘’The consequences of the pandemic were dramatic in all of Europe, and the (European Union) found anew its original inspiration and a great sense of responsibility. Germany’s position was decisive,’’ Mattarella said, referring to Berlin’s key role in securing EU funds to help the hardest hit countries, like Italy.

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