Researchers Look To Northern Italian Town Untouched By Coronavirus

Coronavirus-free territory in Lombardy, Italy
Coronavirus-free territory in Lombardy, Italy

FERRERA ERBOGNONE — Though Italy's total number of COVID-19 cases has topped 100,000, one town near the epicenter in the Lombardy region has registered zero infections. Now researchers hope to see if this town, with a population of 1,200, holds clues to understanding how the virus spreads?

Ferrera Erbognone, the town that has been completely coronavirus-free, is just 70 kilometers from the first cluster in Codogno, and 52 kilometers from Milan, which has registered more than 8,000 deaths. Ferrera Erbognone is now slated to be part of study conducted by the Mondino Institute of Pavia, to test the blood of local residents to see if there is a physiological explanation for the lack of infections.

Is there something in the immune system of this small population?

The study, which is still awaiting the final "OK" from regional officials, will seek to determine if there are antibodies capable of fighting off the coronavirus that are specifically present in the population of Ferrera Erbognone.

Is there something in the immune system of this small population to explain why no one has been affected? If so, could it be a key to find clues to stopping the pandemic? Mayor Giovanni Fassina doesn't think it's genetics. "We are like everyone else. Our population has been vigilant in respecting the quarantine precautions."

The researchers at Mondino cautioned that they don't expect the study to provide either diagnostic nor prognostic breakthroughs, and cautioned against "generating false myths and unfounded expectations in the population."

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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