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A few weeks ago they confirmed 3 cases of coronavirus in central/ southern Italy.
I live in Milan, in the north, so on Valentine’s Day I took the metro, and went to a party.
Not even 10 days later, they announced coronavirus was spreading in the north, in towns on the outskirts of Milan. It probably already was, while me, and so many others where at that party.
But panic spread, maybe even faster than the virus: supermarkets were emptied, with people’s first reaction being to buy kg of pasta, as the stereotypical Italian would, but also empty the fresh groceries aisle, as the first moron who’d starve in a zombie apocalypse would….
That’s when we got told all universities of Lombardy region would be closed for a week.
It’s now been over a week, all the art leasure events I was supposed to attend these days have been canceled, and I now follow live streams for classes, from my couch, at home. Bars couldn’t stay open after 6pm, but have now re-opened, full time, just like museums. All these public places have adopted safety measures to enable a meter distance between people. However, many areas, including Duomo of Milan, still appear eerily empty-ish.
For many days the average Italian was confused by the contrasting news and updates, but in Milan life goes on, from what I see, as semi-usual.
Other than not clinging onto people, the only thing I have actively decided to change since all this began, is my decision to wear lipstick, at all times, at home and outside. I have always been an avid nail biter and face toucher and rather that wearing band aids or gloves (or a mask, which would now cost me a minimum of 70 euros), this seemed like the best unconventional method to prevent the entry of pathogens that usually would not distract me from my habit. Thanks to this method, I also don’t feel like a lazy slug when I sit on my coach for university and I have nails for the first time in a while.
But the greatest difference in daily life, is the fear I perceive from my father. He’s a doctor, he knows what he’s talking about, but he isn’t young either, and when I hear him stressed and panic over the phone, my heart breaks a bit. Instead, it completely shatters when I meet him, as he won’t even kiss me, as if he’s afraid he wouldn’t make it if he got the virus that actually leaves many asymptomatic.
On a more general level, I sometimes feel shame: this outbreak was another unfortunate demonstration of our government’s inadequate measures- of initial prevention and initial containment (nothing to do with the hard work of hospital workers), frequent racism, and ambivalent decisions, ranging between spreading panic and taking it all back, having realized the effect of fear on the economy, actions that are all worsened by the media.
edit. 7/3/20: they have quarantined the whole of Lombardy region and as of right now I am away, so I’m guessing bigger changes are to take place by the time I get back
9/3/20: having gotten back to Milan, I have decided to drastically change my lifestyle to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the city. Most intensive care units in the region of Lombardy have been saturated by the increase in infected and doctors are required, just like occurs in wars, to pick the patients who can be saved, as the people requiring respirators range between the ages 25–95, and there just aren’t enough.
So starting today, I will not exit my home if not for grocery shopping, taking a brief daily walk (alone), or to walk to my father’s house, which is a block away. I will always wear face- masks, and avoid socialising in big groups of people, probably inviting a single friend to my place next weekend.
It is obscene to see that people are still organising parties and big social gatherings, when it is in these situations that civic duty should prevail.
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