Italian nursing home sets up 'hug room' amid pandemic
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An Italian nursing home has established a “hug room” that will allow residents to safely make contact with loved ones following months of isolation.

The room incorporates a booth made of a sheet of plexiglass, with holes for protective sleeves.

“The fact of holding the hand of a loved one means so much,” Paola Del Bufalo, the owner and director of the Villa Del Sole nursing home outside of Rome, told The Washington Post. “It’s not as if they hadn’t seen one other at a distance. But it’s one thing to see, another to touch.”

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After a successful visit between 21-year-old Gioia Tocchio and her 82-year-old grandmother Giovanna Chinagli, the home was able to schedule more visits.

Under the new system, Del Bufalo told resident Enzo Gentili,  “You’ll have the possibility to give a hug.”

“So everything goes back to normal?” Gentili responded.

“Kind of,” Del Bufalo said she replied according to the Post.

News of the "hug room" comes as the elderly and assisted living residents are being prioritized for vaccinations against COVID-19 in most countries and territories where Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine has been approved.

The European Medicines Agency approved the vaccine Monday, following the U.K. and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“As we have promised, this vaccine will be available for all EU countries at the same time, on the same conditions,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement Monday. “This is a very good way to end this difficult year, and to finally start turning the page on COVID-19.”

Italy was an early European epicenter of the virus and has had just under 2 million confirmed cases and 69,8942 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.