For weeks now, the daily briefings by Italy’s civil protection agency have been providing grim updates on the number of people killed by COVID-19, the highly infectious respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, deepening a sense of gloom in a country that has become the deadliest centre of the pandemic.
The country’s latest tally reported a total of 6,078 deaths from 63,928 infections, with a world-leading fatality rate of more than 9 percent as at 25th March.
The numbers are dizzying and horrifying. Four hundred and thirty-three dead. Six hundred twenty-seven dead. Seven hundred ninety-three dead.
In contrast, in China, where the outbreak originated, the mortality rate stands at 3.8 percent. In Germany, which has reported more than 24,000 cases and 94 deaths, it is at 0.3 percent.
On March 19, Italy’s death toll surpassed the number of deceased in China, where the coronavirus originated in December.
At the time there were 3,405 dead, which was a rise of 427 on the day before, and the outbreak first started to take hold in Italy on February 21. On March 19 China had reported 3,245 deaths.
s of March 23, Italy has 59,138 cases and 5,476 deaths, while China has 81,093 and 3,270.
Coronavirus is known to be more of a threat to the elderly as well as those with underlying health conditions.
Let’s look at the social interaction of the Italians.
Italy has the second-oldest population in the world and the younger generation mingle more often with elderly loved ones.
Younger Italians tend to interact more than other countries with their elders and that’s mostly down to the fact that many live in the same households as their parents and grandparents.
Family data shows that many live with their elders in rural areas and commute to cities, like Milan in the Lombardy region where the coronavirus spread quickly.
Researchers argue that the frequent travel between cities and rural homes may have exacerbated the “silent” spread of the virus.
Young people working and socialising in towns and cities interact with crowds and they might pick up COVID-19 there and take it home to their elders.
If they have no symptoms, they won’t know that they’re infecting the elderly.
COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, capital of the Hubei Province in China and has since spread around the world.
The northern region of Lombardy is the most badly affected, with 3,095 deaths and 25,515 cases.
Coronavirus spread rapidly in Italy because the first person who was infected in the country was in the asymptomatic phase – meaning they showed no symptoms and could spread the virus undetected.
Massimo Galli, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Milan and director of infectious diseases at the Luigi Sacco hospital in Milan, said evidence suggested the virus may have been spreading under the radar in the quarantined areas.
“Italy should be a warning to everybody, everywhere,” he said.
We have an epidemic because of one person who returned with an infection in an asymptomatic phase and it spread underground in the ‘red zone’.”
The red zone refers to the region of Lombardy in the north of Italy which has seen the most concentrated cases of coronavirus.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a decree early on Sunday 8 March enacting forced quarantine for the region of Lombardy – home to more than 10 million people – the financial capital Milan and multiple other provinces.
“What happened in Italy could happen everywhere in Europe. Maybe we are particularly unlucky.”
Another theory as to why coronavirus has affected Italy so badly is that they have an ageing population, with Galli explaining: “Italy is a country of old people.
“The elderly with previous pathologies are notoriously numerous here. I think this could explain why we are seeing more serious cases of coronavirus here, which I repeat, in the vast majority of cases start mildly and cause few problems, especially in young people and certainly in children.
“Our life expectancy is among the highest in the world. But unfortunately, in a situation like this, old people are more at risk of a serious outcome.”
All the hospitals in northern Italy are stretched to the breaking point. Health-care workers are totally exhausted, themselves terrified of contracting the virus and passing it on to their own families. Ventilators are the only thing that will keep the sickest patients alive, and there may not be enough to go around. Doctors have been put in the agonizing position of deciding who lives and who dies.
The elderly, and those with complicating medical conditions, might be sacrificed.
“If you have to choose between a 75-year-old person and a 20-year-old person, who are you going to choose? Obviously, it’s the person with the higher expectation of life,” Casani said.
“So there will be a moment that an anesthesiologist will have to take off the respirator from this 75-year-old guy and give it to the 20-year-old. And this will be a horrible choice for the doctors, but obviously necessary.”
As to why COVID-19 spread so quickly once it arrived, he said, “We do not have emergency plans for pandemics. We have it for natural disasters. And, also we were the first, so we were totally unprepared.”
While many countries are gradually adopting stricter measures to implement social distancing, they have so far resisted taking the same drastic steps as Italy due to significant worries about the economic effects of such moves.
Staying safe remains the priority, Italy serves as visible lesson to other nations and people. Nations are commanded to start taking measures to combat Covid-19 even if it isn’t roaming the nation. Individuals should protect themselves and educate other masses in the little way they can. adhere to government rules and practice overall hygiene.
COVID-19 IS REAL, STAY SAFE