How Did Italy Fall Prey to COVID19?
As at the time of posting this- June 2020, there’s almost no country in the world that hasn’t been hit by the Coronavirus albeit with varying infection and death rates. Yet, some countries stand out as being the worst hit with death and infection figures that are clear outliers compared to every other country in the world. One of such countries is Italy, located in Europe.
With the first case reported on the 31st of January 2020 from two Chinese tourists in Rome. Things escalated rather fast and by the 8th of March, the Prime Minister had to order a complete lockdown of the whole country, restricting the movements of more than 60 million people. Within 4 months, there were a total of 233,826 confirmed cases with a mind-boggling death toll of 39,297 people.
Horrifying reports from Italy reported that at the height of the virus’ onslaught, doctors had to leave some people to die while treating others because they were simply overwhelmed. Also, the military had to bring in their trucks to cart corpses away as the morgues were filled beyond capacity.
The Main Drivers
Why did a relatively prosperous member of the European Union with considerable effective healthcare services get overrun by COVID-19? Below are some likely explanations:
Game Zero: On the 19th of February, Atalanta Football Club played against Valencia at the San Siro stadium in Milan in the UEFA Champion’s league round of 16. Over 40,000 people were in attendance from Bergamo, the home city of Atalanta F.C. This football match was a critical source of the spread as more than 7,000 people tested positive in the Bergamo area a month later. This was why the match was tagged game zero by the Associated Press.
Time Lost To Inaction: As mentioned earlier, the first two cases were from Chinese tourists. Also, a repatriated Italian from China tested positive too, and these three cases were treated, eventually testing negative. However, in the Lombardy region, a couple of people reported pneumonia-like symptoms and were treated for either pneumonia or influenza without any special precautions.
Unfortunately, it spread locally via the hospital workers and other patients, relations and other contacts of the infected people. Lombardy would go on to be one of the major COVID-19 spread clusters in Italy.
Older Population: Compared to most other countries in Europe, Italy has a high percentage of old folk with 22.6% of the population being over 65. Studies have shown that older people are at a higher risk of being critically affected by the virus perhaps due to the higher probability of existing comorbidities.
Cultural Practices: The Italians have a culture of displaying affection physically. Hugs and kisses are not reserved just for family or romantic partners but even among friends and acquaintances. Considering how easily COVID-19 spreads by physical contact, the high infection and transmission rate becomes understandable given the Italian ‘culture of touch.’
Fortunately, there has been abatement in new cases and the number of deaths been witnessed in Italy as a result of the nationwide lockdown. We hope it keeps getting better.
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