An Italian politician is accusing his colleagues in government of causing a false alarm over the coronavirus, which he says “is fiction,” as well as “an ass-grab that humiliates Italy before the world.”
“How many people can’t go to work now because of an old man who’s 88 years old, who might have died of the flu?” proclaimed Chamber of Deputies member Vittorio Sgarbi during an impassioned monologue before the Italian Parliament.
“This is fiction! This is an ass-grab that humiliates Italy before the world!” shouted Sgarbi, using an Italian idiom similar to “pulling one’s leg,” as he accused his colleagues of causing alarm over “a danger that is not there.”
“There is no emergency,” Sgarbi insisted, before repeatedly shouting “this is fiction!” ten times while other members of the Italian Parliament attempted to shout over him.
Meanwhile, the governor of Lombardy has quarantined himself after discovering that one of his staff members tested positive for the coronavirus.
Sgarbi went on to affirm that closing Italian schools, theaters, and museums is a “violence against our culture, against our civilization, and against common sense.”
“Whoever votes [to address the coronavirus] will be responsible for being an accomplice in raising alarm,” declared Sgarbi. “People vote to humiliate Italy in front of the world. A totally ridiculous thing. We are already seeing how dramatic it is for our culture.”
Last week, Italy’s travel and tourism industry warned that it expects to lose at least €5 billion in tourism over coronavirus fears. Over the weekend, the U.S. State Department issued a Level 4 travel advisory — the highest level — urging Americans not to travel to the two infected Italian regions at the center of the outbreak.
“At this moment, those who turn on the television can listen to reports of a false alarm,” continued Sgarbi, addressing Italian Chamber of Deputies president Roberto Fico.
“De Magistris wants to close schools,” added of Sgarbi of fellow Italian politician Luigi de Magistris. “In Marche, they closed the schools without having any emergency. You all know that there is no pandemic.”
Sgarbi went on to suggest that his colleagues have fallen into “a trap” set by senator and former Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, who has been railing against Italy’s left-wing government and its handling of the coronavirus issue.
“You have fallen into Salvini’s trap, and you know it,” he proclaimed. “There is no plague. Salvini has put it in your ass once again.”
Debate over the coronavirus appears to be fanning the flames of Italy’s already-existing political divide. As Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte blames the further spread of the virus on a hospital in Lombardy, the governor of Lombardy blames Rome for not listening to Italian governors, whom he says had suggested that Italy take necessary precautions before there was a coronavirus outbreak in the nation.
As of Monday, Italy has suffered 2,036 confirmed coronavirus cases and 52 deaths, with the disease most heavily concentrated in the northern regions of Lombardy (1,254), Emilia-Romagna (335), and Veneto (273).
Meanwhile, the municipal councilor of Pavia, Niccolo Fraschini, has fallen under scrutiny and was denounced by the Lombardy Regional Council over comments in which he bizarrely attacked southern Italians — and others — over the coronavirus, according to a report by Corriere della Sera.
Pavia is located in the northern region of Lombardy. Italy has been known for its regional tensions between northern and southern Italians.
“We from Lombardy are disgusted by people who periodically live in the middle of garbage (people from Naples and the like), by people who don’t have a bidet (the French), and by people whose capital (Bucharest) has sewers populated with abandoned children,” said Fraschini in a Facebook post.
“We do not accept hygiene lessons from these people,” he added. “Don’t worry, by the end of all this, the roles will be reversed.”