The Italian government and health care system are groaning amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. In only 24 hours, the country has reported nearly 3,000 more cases and 349 additional deaths.
In just weeks, the global pandemic ravaged through the country, starting in the northern Lombardy region. Today, the whole of Italy is in lockdown, with millions staying in their homes. The country has reported the second-highest number of confirmed cases outside China, where the virus first emerged.
All non-essential businesses, except for supermarkets, pharmacies, and other essential companies, have been shut down to stem the further spread of the outbreak. This measure has been adopted in various countries across the globe to prevent close contact with other people, social gatherings, and large crowds.
Milan, Italy March 2020: "Coronavirus", Lombardy, Italy. Image Credit: Luchino
People die alone
Patients who are at high risk of severe COVID-19 are those who are more than 60 years old, those with underlying health conditions, and those who are immunocompromised are at a higher risk of developing complications and dying from the contagious disease.
In Italy, the death toll has reached 2,503 in just four weeks. The virus is spreading like wildfire, with more deaths being reported, and most of them die alone, without their families. For most people in the locked-down country, it is a case of survival of the fittest. Many infected lack the medical attention they need due to a shortage of health workers, who are mostly focused on treating critical patients in hospitals.
In Rome, at least ten priests have died after succumbing to COVID-19. More than half of them were from the Diocese of Bergamo, a town found outside of Milan in Lombardy. The bishop of Bergamo reported that at least 20 priests have been hospitalized but have exhibited improvement.
Restrictions and lockdown
The number of infections during the contagion could be higher than reported. Some infected are not getting themselves tested, and some stay at their homes to see the infection pass.
Since the lockdown of Italy, millions of people are confined in their homes. Large gatherings, crowds, sporting events, museums, and tourist spots have been shut down. Restaurants offer delivery and to-go options, while non-essential businesses are closed.
The growing fear of the outbreak has left major streets and locations to look like ghost towns. The global pandemic has dramatically impacted the economy of Italy. Still, to help families and businesses face the prolonged lockdown, the government approved the package of economic measures for up to $27.4 billion, which included incentives for workers who may lose their jobs and babysitting vouchers for parents.
The economy has received a blow of its fourth recession in just 12 years. Milan has lost an additional 6 percent on Mar. 16, and it has fallen a total of 40 percent in only three weeks.
The government also closed all access to the island of Sicily, to prevent people from heading to the island, which accounts for less than 1 percent of the total number of the confirmed cases of the virus.
The government urges all Italian residents and even foreigners to practice social distancing. Stay at home if you are vulnerable. They should also wash their hands and practice good hygiene to fight the coronavirus outbreak.