The tragic death of a 4-year-old girl from malaria in northern Italy on Monday has reinvigorated demands for tighter immigration controls from right-wing politicians.
The death of young Sofia Zago has sparked controversy since the country is not known to have the kind of mosquitoes that spread malaria. Italy’s health ministry ordered an investigation into the girl’s death after revelations that she had not traveled to any country at risk for the disease.
The child died Monday at the Brescia public hospital after being transferred from Trento.
Representatives of Italy’s Northern League party were quick to note the coincidence of the rare tropical disease appearing in the midst of massive immigration from nations where the sickness still runs rampant.
“A child dies from malaria in our land without ever having gone abroad,” said Paolo Grimoldi (pictured) of the League. “It seems clear that African immigrants are the ones bringing diseases into Italy that we had abolished decades ago.”
“Instead of throwing our families and schools into chaos by forcing our children to undergo a series of useless vaccines,” he continued, “why doesn’t Minister Lorenzin [Italy’s health minister] block the source of the spread of diseases that had disappeared from us, such as malaria? This might be the only truly effective vaccine.”
The malaria death followed closely on the heels of a gruesome immigrant gang rape that made international news in late August. A young Polish couple was assaulted by a group of four North African migrants on a beach in Rimini. The band took turns raping the woman and beat her husband unconscious, robbing them both of their wallets.
Grimoldi did not let the opportunity pass to tie the events together.
“A state that brings in and welcomes these immigrants is responsible not only for their conduct and the crimes they commit, such as the rape in Rimini, but also for the risk of them spreading diseases. The government must wake up and guarantee the safety of our health from these risks,” he said.
An analysis published by researchers last October in the UK-based The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal revealed that from 2005 to 2015 there were 637 reported cases of malaria imported into Italy from other countries. The movement of people with malaria “followed specific routes,” the journal stated, with a majority of cases (56 percent) originating in West Africa. Of all cases recorded during that 10-year period, the highest number was reported in France, with Italy registering the third highest number in Europe.
The unique characteristic of Sofia Zago’s death is that hers is the first recorded case of autochthonous malaria in Italy in 30 years, which has generated great interest in discovering the source of the disease.
Another League member, the Nigerian-born Toni Iwobi, head of the Federal Security and Immigration Department, echoed Grimoldi’s concerns regarding links between malaria and the massive influx of illegal immigrants into the country.
“What assurances do the Presidency of the Council and the Ministers of Health and the Interior give that the hordes of fake refugees who are invading Italy are also not carrying serious illnesses?” he said.
Iwobi went on to propose a “hermetic sealing of borders, mass deportations and blanket health checks on asylum seekers who are still present on national territory.”
Another politician, the Regional Coordinator of Forza Italia in the Trentino Alto Adige region, Michaela Biancofiore, similarly launched a challenge to the Health Minister.
“It is more than a suspicion that certain diseases long since eradicated in Europe according to the WHO have been showing a significant reemergence in Italy thanks to the massive arrivals of people from African countries where they are prevalent,” Biancofiore said.
“Perhaps this is why Lorenzin’s Ministry has raced to the rescue by imposing multiple vaccinations in schools,” she added.
As Breitbart News reported a year ago, something similar occurred in Greece at the time that nation was at the forefront of European immigration flows.
Greece was forced to suspend blood donations after a spike in cases of malaria, which was believed to have been caused by the large influx of migrants who have entered the country. A total of 12 municipalities banned blood donations, out of fear that the infectious disease might spread to both locals and tourists.
At that time, Athanassios Tsakris, professor of microbiology at the University of Athens, suggested that “drastic measures” were required to stem the spread of the disease, including an intensification in the screening of migrants.
As in the case of Italy, malaria had been eradicated in Greece in the 1970s, but many new cases emerged in recent years as significant numbers of migrants arrived in the country.