Mattarella cautions against 'irrational fears' of coronavirus


ROME - Italian President Sergio Mattarella gave a speech on Friday at the 13th anniversary of Telethon, held at the Quirinal Palace, in which he said that “knowledge helps with responsibility and constitutes a strong antidote to irrational and unmotivated fears," in a direct reference to the recent coronavirus panic in Italy.

  "The unity of purpose and the principles of solidarity are a great asset for society, particularly in delicate moments," continued the head of state, as the death toll climbed to 17 with the number of cases at reaching 650.

  President Mattarella thanked those who have been taking the fight to coronavirus on the front line. "We must feel a duty to thank those who are working with effort and with self-sacrifice to combat the danger of the coronavirus – doctors, nurses, civil protection personnel, researchers, the women and men of the armed forces, and those of the police, all those who somehow find themselves on the front line."

  The Telethon Foundation has funded more than 2500 projects and 1600 researchers, and has achieved extraordinary results for people with rare genetic conditions who are not considered to be statistically relevant, and are therefore often neglected by large public investment schemes.

  In closing his speech, President Mattarella underlined Telethon's achievements.

 "Today the Foundation finances research projects relating to over 500 rare genetic diseases. I wish to thank you and encourage you by repeating the words of Susanna Agnelli, to whom Telethon owes so much – your commitment must continue as long as there is only one person suffering from a rare disease whose cure is unknown."