Life in the red zone: lockdown in Italy

Joshua Rasia, previously an intern at Citylife, is locked down in Italy as it increasingly struggles with the Covid-19 crisis

By | Thu 26 Mar 2020

It’s 1am and the tv is showing the latest decree from the Prime Minister: Lombardia is now a red zone and nobody without special permission can move in or out of the area. The news has just increased the panic in the region.

It also caused people to run towards supermarkets which lead to large gatherings of people all at risk of infection. The following day we were told by the Health Minister that there were 1492 new cases during his daily update, which is going live everyday at around 6pm, just before dinner time, a moment of gathering for the families.

Such gatherings are not permitted anymore. Cities are locked down, only pharmacies and supermarkets are open to allow people to reach them in the moment of need. But the issue in those early days was that the younger communities were still moving and meeting around the city even with the lockdown. It was the main issue here in Italy which goes against the rules from the government and why the spreading is still not contained.

Soon Milan, the main hub in the north, made the decision to close down, sending thousands of students packing their luggage before taking off with the last trains south. This caused a greater spread of the virus which lead to the whole country being on lockdown. By now we were on day 19 for Italy while most European countries have just now closed their borders – Slovakia, Italy, Czech Republic, Hungary.

Being here means not leaving the house unless there is an emergency. There are some people who still must brave the outdoors and go to work each day and they live in fear as they walk out of their houses, get into their cars, drive to work, never knowing when they may catch the virus. At work there are not many people but enough to spread it if someone is positive. Luckily soon the Prime Minister decided to shut down everything to slow down the process so office workers were sent home.

During the evenings, as windows and doors are open to allow in the sunset, people tend to wander onto their balconies, waving at their neighbours and often singing the national anthem together to raise one another’s spirits. As children practice their musical instruments, the constant sound of ambulances across the city are constant reminders of the times we are living in.

Questions are asked of the government daily as to why more wasn’t done sooner. We look at Hong Kong, Taiwan, even Thailand, as countries which faced and tackled this problem earlier on and which managed to contain the virus fairly well.

Then the government of Spain declared the state of emergency and soon Czech Republic, Slovakia, Denmark, Norway all closed their borders . The European Union as it was created doesn’t look to exist anymore. Italy asked for help and our fellow European countries were unable to assist while China sent a group of doctors and scientists to support us.

As Bill Gates said at a TED meeting in 2015, the biggest threat to our time was not going to be from a bomb, but on a virus. The International community did not take any responsible actions to develop or prepare for a possible pandemic as the one happening now.

Right now I am still hearing the sound of the ambulances from the balconies of this town but we can also hear the songs ad the instruments played outside the balconies to cheer up as we will get over it ad start to make great pizzas again.