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Parents of girl with cystic fibrosis urge public to take coronavirus seriously

Rob Field said he and his family evacuated from Milan to protect their daughter.

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Rob Field with his wife Matilde and daughter Elsa, who has cystic fibrosis (Rob and Matilde Field/PA)

Rob Field with his wife Matilde and daughter Elsa, who has cystic fibrosis (Rob and Matilde Field/PA)

Rob Field with his wife Matilde and daughter Elsa, who has cystic fibrosis (Rob and Matilde Field/PA)

A British expat in Italy whose daughter has cystic fibrosis has spoken of the threat his family faces amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Italy’s population has been told to mostly stay at home, with more than 10,000 coronavirus cases and soaring deaths recorded among its ageing population.

Rob Field, 43, moved to Italy in 2016 after meeting his Italian wife Matilde in London.

Rob Field with his wife Matilde and daughter Elsa, who has cystic fibrosis
The family have moved out of Milan in a bid to protect their daughter (Rob Field/PA)

Their 18-month-old daughter Elsa has cystic fibrosis (CF), a condition that causes problems in the lungs and digestive system.

Mrs Field told the PA news agency: “As a parent of someone with a chronic lung condition, we ask people to stop and think before they act in this delicate situation.

“Staying at home, avoiding crowds, washing hands, keeping two metres’ distance and using masks can really help stopping spreading the virus.

“It’s not asking something impossible, just something that some of us are used to doing every day, coronavirus or not.

“Everyone can do their part in containing the spread, please do yours. If not for yourself, do it for the weaker people such as Elsa.”

The NHS says people with CF are “more likely to pick up infections, and more vulnerable to complications if they do develop an infection”.

Elsa Field, who has cystic fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis patients are at increased risk from infection (Rob and Matilde Field)

Mr Field said the current situation has heightened their own paranoia.

He said: “We are already very paranoid about germs, catching bugs off other kids, wiping surfaces and keeping distance from people.”

The family evacuated from Milan two weeks ago to Matilde’s family home over an hour’s drive away, to further protect their daughter.

Elsa’s grandmother Paola meanwhile, who had planned a 700km charity walk to raise money for cystic fibrosis research, has seen her plans curtailed by the pandemic.

Current circumstances are also making it more difficult for the family to obtain necessary supplies for their daughter.

Mr Field said: “We had to buy one of the food supplements online.

“Some of the stuff we can get in the pharmacy, but it’s quite stressful because, like anyone with any medical conditions at the moment, there’s potential shortages of things, so we’re keeping a close eye on the stocks of everything.

“If we can’t get the supplies redirected to here then we’re either going to have to drive back to Milan, or try to find it elsewhere.”

Elsa Field, who has cystic fibrosis, with her grandmother
Elsa with her grandmother, who had hoped to raise funds for research into the condition (Rob Field/PA)

Mrs Field said they have a month’s worth of the most important supplies, but delays in delivery and a lack of stock is “already a bit worrying”.

She added: “The biggest (concern) is that the CF centre at the moment is closed because they had to make space for the coronavirus situation.

“I’m worried for our community because everything will be postponed, even our regular check-ups.

“I’m also worried about the health system because we have a few friends that are doctors and it does sound very bad.

“I hope other countries will realise in time.”

PA