Corona Virus in Italy: A View from the Street by Alan Pascuzzi, Ph.D., Florence, Italy
Here is why Italy has been hit so badly with this virus (do not listen to what the media is telling you - I am here and this is what is happening):
- Virus reported in China in late January
- Italian government reacts by saying it is no problem criticizing Trump for closing flights from China to the US
- Italy declares it will not block any flights nor prohibit free movement from Europe - 'we are not racists' they declare
- Report that thousands of Chinese are returning to Italy from the Chinese New Year - in Tuscany alone 2.500 were expected to return
- In northern Italy, the governors of the regions ask the government to block flights from China and close schools for two weeks to see if the cinese children who return to Italy have the virus - in effect a quarantine to prevent spread of virus
- Government reacts by calling the northern Italians racist and xenophobes
- The mayor of Florence even sent an Instagram to everyone telling them to 'go hug a Chinese person' (!)
- Thousands of Chinese return to Italy
- No screening done on anyone returning from China in airports
- Eight Chinese are reported sick in a cafè in northern Italy, first cases of virus reported
- First Italian patient identified - doctor figures out he had the virus by running tests not required by government
- Prime Minister Conte criticizes doctor who treated first virus patient for being negligent - doctor responds saying he ran tests not required by law and calls Conte 'incompetent'
- Government closes small towns where virus has broken out - people flee from area and spread virus to other parts of Italy
- Typical Italian mentality of 'rules do not apply to me' spreads. Constant flow of people from 'red zone', evade police roadblocks
- Spreads rapidly, Government stops all flights from China
- Thousands of Chinese return to Italy through Moscow and flights from other European counties, buses of illegal Chinese enter Italy through back roads, are stopped and dozens found to have virus - this kept secret by media
- virus spreads in north, Italian government decides to close schools - too little too late
- General panic, stores flooded, all tourism stops
- Mayor of Florence declares all museums will be free to 'combat the virus with art'' - i.e. encourage people to come together in a closes space - perfect!
- Mayor of Florence contacts virus, now in treatment
- Italian Government closes schools suddenly, creates even more panic, parents do not know where to put kids - chaos - school closed indefinitely
- Yesterday evening Italian government closes the whole region making it illegal to leave Lombardy starting at 12 midnight
- Mass exodus of northern Italians on trains, planes, buses and cars to flee closing of Lombardy, as I speak the virus is travelling to all parts of Italy
- Doctors and hospital workers plead Italians to stay home and not act like it is a holiday
In general however, things are ok. I have found there are two types of people: those who are freaking out and those who are using common sense and taking the necessary precautions. It is a serious situation, but the biggest problem is the panic. Yes the virus can kill, but it hits mainly those who already have serious health problems. This will pass and everything will stabilize. It will just take time.
Alan Pascuzzi, Ph.D.