(Alberto Pizzoli, Der Spiegel, 2020)
My name is Luca and I am sixteen years old. I live in Rome so I am not really near the epicentre of the epidemic in Northern Italy, but I will try to explain how coronavirus is affecting the country from my perspective. As of right now, the number of people infected is 4,636, based on data collected by the Civil Defense. The regions that are suffering the most from the coronavirus are Lombardy (2,612 cases), the Emilia-Romagna (870 cases) and the Veneto (488 cases). These statistics include both the number of Italian citizens that have recovered, (523) and the people who have died (197).
The situation is actually starting to worsen in Lombardy as there is no more space in the intensive care departments. This is very problematic, as patients with respiratory issues (especially the elderly) experience serious complications without this kind of treatment. This is why the government decided to quarantine the communities in Lombardy where the virus has spread and to also close schools up to the 15th of March (although it is likely our schools will remain closed for longer) in order to protect the vulnerable population.
I’ve read that the Italians in some of the quarantine zones are not allowed to leave, but they can still move around in their communities and go about a normal day. Yet, there is not much you can do in a place where the cinemas, theatres, museums, stadiums, gyms and even offices are closed because of the virus. This is not only true in the quarantine zones, but also here in Rome, as many people are being forced to stay at home. This is a serious problem as many people aren’t receiving salaries anymore, making it difficult for them to pay for food, electricity, water and everything else required to live a normal life. Even the places that are still open, like the restaurants, for example, don’t have many customers as people are scared to leave their homes. There are also very few tourists here in Rome right now.
I think the government made a wise decision, based on discussions with the scientific commission, not underestimating the speed at which the virus would spread. They announced that all the schools would be closed without any warning, making everything harder for us as students. I consider myself lucky as my school has the technology for online courses, but my teachers aren’t necessarily prepared and not all Italians have the connection necessary to connect to lessons online, especially those living in the countryside.
Still, I continue to live my life. I went out with my family the other day and tomorrow I’m going out with my friends. I haven’t seen Italians really panicking because of the coronavirus; it is more a silent and shared knowledge that it exists and that it is not that far away. But we are not experiencing a crisis just yet. I hope this article has been helpful and that you have a better understanding of what is happening here in Italy. We need every bit of help.