By Michel Rose
PARIS (Reuters) – Europe has failed to win the communications battle in its response to the coronavirus outbreak, leaving other powers such as China or Russia to win hearts and minds in the most affected countries like Italy, a French official said on Wednesday.
Italy, now the country worst-hit by the virus worldwide, was sharply critical of France and Germany after they initially declined to provide face masks and other equipment to help handle the outbreak.
Rome turned instead for help to China, which sent an airplane full of masks and ventilators bearing “Forza Italia” stickers with small Chinese and Italian flags – and leaving a powerful impression on Italians.
France and Germany later lifted their restrictions and sent hundreds of thousands of masks to Italy, but failed to garner enough media coverage to correct the first impression of a lack of European solidarity, the French official said.
“On the issue of…