Tue, Jul 22, 2003 - Page 1 News List

First lady receives wife of SARS discoverer

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER IN ROME

First lady Wu Shu-chen, left, receives Guiliana Urbani, wife of the late Dr. Carlo Urbani, who identified SARS as a unique disease and later lost his life in the battle against the deadly virus.

PHOTO: CHU PEI-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

First lady Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍) yesterday afternoon received the widow of SARS-victim Dr. Carlo Urbani, Guiliana Urbani, at the Hilton Cavalieri Hotel, where Wu was staying in Rome.

Wu, on behalf of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and the Taiwanese people, expressed her respect for Dr. Urbani, who died in the battle against the disease on March 29.

Urbani was the Italian infectious disease specialist from the World Health Organization (WHO) who discovered a form of atypical pneumonia previously unknown to the medical community was causing people to become ill in Vietnam when he was practicing his trade there.

Serving in the Southeast Asian nation on orders from the world health body, he contracted the SARS virus while treating an infected patient.

Urbani's early discovery and revelation of SARS allowed the global public-health network to fortify its defenses against the contagion, and helped Vietnam to control the epidemic relatively quickly.

When Wu met Mrs. Urbani, she talked about the damage SARS did to Taiwan, and how China impeded Taiwan when offering help to the international society with the battle against SARS and when calling for WHO's help.

"In order to remember Dr. Urbani's spirit, Taiwan set up the Urbani Foundation on July 18 to carry out epidemic study and prevention work. The foundation will also provide assistance to the victims of the epidemic," Wu said.

"The fund of US$10 million is derived from public and overseas donations given during the SARS outbreak," added Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), the deputy secretary-general of Presidential Office.

Some Taiwanese in Rome also worked with their European friends to set up an organization called Urbani International, inviting Mrs. Urbani to be the honorary chairwoman. Mrs. Urbani agreed to the proposal, and she also asked Wu to become a member, who accepted without hesitation.

"I hope that those foundations which carry my husbands name can successfully help SARS victims and their relatives and help to solve their problems," Mrs. Urbani said.

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