Taiwan’s coronavirus task force pledges aid to Sicily at request of Italian priest

Taiwan glad to lend hand: CECC head Chen Shih-chung

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Sicilian priest Calogero Orifiamma (歐大福) (center)

Sicilian priest Calogero Orifiamma (歐大福) (center) (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s task force for the coronavirus (COVID-19) has promised medical aid to the Italian region of Sicily in response to a plea by an Italian priest.

At the daily news briefing on the country’s response to the pandemic on Sunday (May 24), Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Taiwan would lend a hand to the Mediterranean island after learning about its shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The request was made by a reporter on behalf of a Sicilian priest, Calogero Orifiamma (歐大福), who serves at a church in Pingtung County. Orifiamma said his hometown is struggling without adequate medical supplies, including surgical masks.

The priest said he felt embarrassed about making the request, as Taiwanese have already shown their generosity by supporting another Italian priest's efforts to aid his home country, wrote CNA.

Last month, Yilan County-based Father Giuseppe Didone (呂若瑟) launched a campaign to aid Italy. The Taiwanese public donated nearly NT$150 million (US$5 million) in cash donations, as well as supplies, in just six days.

Orifiamma expressed his gratitude to the government of Taiwan for the pledged aid. The missionary has lived in the island country for two decades, serving in a number of townships in the southern county of Pingtung.

An enthusiast of the Paiwan people and their culture, he has written a paper on the relationship between the indigenous tribe’s wedding rituals and religious beliefs. He is also known for providing financial assistance to the disadvantaged, according to CNA.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on April 1 pledged to donate 10 million surgical masks to countries in need to demonstrate that Taiwan can help in the global fight against the pandemic. These included at least 500,000 masks to be delivered to Italy.