Monday, the first working day since the outbreak of contagion in northern Italy, has tested the resistance of a country to the wave of restrictions imposed by the Government. Cities like Milan or Turin woke up in a state of semi-paralysis. Stores closed or while supplies last, schools, universities, gyms and closed bars. The 50,000 people confined in the two outbreaks of contagion – the 10 Lombard municipalities and one of Veneto– they could see how their villages already had access controls guarded by the police and the army. No one could get in and out. In addition, a seventh victim was confirmed, the stock market fell 6% and the risk premium rose again. Lombardy and Veneto represent a third of Italian GDP and the health crisis, economists fear, could soon lead to a recession in the fragile Italian economy.
Italy is the European country with the highest number of people infected by coronavirus and the third in the world behind China and South Korea. The positives now amount to 222, of which 27 are in intensive care. The trains that join the north and south of the country did this Monday with some empty wagons and forced from time to time to interrupt their journey by some false alarm. The contagion is still circumscribed to five regions (Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto and Lazio) and the authorities believe that, located the foci, they could contain it. Angelo Borrelli, extraordinary commissioner of Civil Protection of Italy, has become the face of this crisis. With extreme tranquility that contrasts with a certain hysteria in the street, it transmits the data and the level of expansion of the situation twice a day. Transparency, to date, is total. In his last appearance on Monday he tried to reassure people who plan to travel to Italy, but measures such as the suspension of the Carnival of Venice have caused the cancellation of thousands of reservations throughout Italy.
The main unknowns of this crisis, Borrelli confirmed, remain unsolved. That is, who is the zero patient and what is the link between the two sources of infection in Lombardy and Veneto. The first hypotheses point to a farmer from the Veneto village of Vo’Euganeo, who would have been in Codogno. But there was no official response. “I have no confirmation of the link between the two focuses. But I can say that there is no other focus right now, ”Borrelli said during his six o’clock appearance on Monday.
The hospitals in Milan (three cases) and Turin (two cases) have installed tents outside the premises to select coronavirus patients and separate them from the rest. The idea is that people with the suspicion of having contracted the virus do not get into the hospital. A plan that seeks to prevent the reoccurrence of the multiple contagion in the Codogno hospital. In addition, Lombardy, the region with the highest number of infections (more than 170), has begun testing any person who has symptoms: either at home or in the health center.
The economic circuit will suffer in the short term, experts say. The closure of supermarkets, offices, large theaters and companies was extended to the five affected regions. Banking institutions such as Intesa Sanpaolo have interrupted the activities in the branches in the affected municipalities and have arranged for their employees to work from home, an initiative that others have also taken such as the Mediaset audiovisual group. The economic impact of the crisis is of great concern. That is why the Government is also considering decreeing special economic measures, such as those used in natural disasters, which will suspend the payment of certain basic receipts and provide aid.
The fear that the focus originated about 60 kilometers south of Milan may continue to spread restlessly in border countries, which are beginning to take precautions. The fear now is that Italy could begin to remain isolated through unilateral measures from other states such as France, where the opposition presses for border closures. The warnings come from different points. Austria blocked on Sunday night two trains from Venice bound for Munich on suspicion of two possible cases on board that were negative and had already left Verona. In addition, on Monday passengers on a flight from the Alitalia company were held at the Mauritius Island airport. Local authorities banned the landing of about 70 tourists from Veneto and Lombardy aboard the plane. In France, a bus from Milan was blocked in Lyon, in the south of the country, when passengers noticed that the driver had a strong cough.
A certain psychosis also seized the Milanese. The scenes of people running to the supermarkets liquidating all the stocks of the shelves worry the Government. The mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala, asked for tranquility and affected the fight against the emergency. “Instead of wasting time running to supermarkets to stock them, please stay home taking care of the elderly and vulnerable. That is what a mature society does. ” The governor of Lombardy, Attilio Fontana, delved into that idea and recalled that life has not changed in that sense and normal commercial distribution is guaranteed.
Domestic confinement in cities like Milan, however, has been voluntary. But many neighbors have had to give up going to their jobs because they are forced to take care of their children, who did not go to schools. Alessandra Pangrazio is a Matteo Ricci school teacher and spent the day at home with her children. “Yesterday the communication of the address arrived and told us to stay at home. But it was still a short week, we had a carnival Thursday and Friday party. Even when? We have no idea, ”he points to the phone. “We are calm, but as we have been told to stay at home, I have only gone out to buy milk and to the pharmacy. A lot of things are missing in supermarkets. ”