Virus won’t be eradicated

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“Why didn’t you go into self-isolation.” This, almost accusing, question came from a colleague of mine in Rome. For my newspaper, I had been in Milan at the end of February and had also visited two checkpoints where the police and military checked traffic that went in and out in the red zone, the quarantine area near Milan. No one is allowed there to go in and out. All because of the corona virus. This zone has later been expanded to all over Italy.


It made me think. Would I have taken the situation too lightly? In any case, I had visited my doctor on my return and she said that I was not at risk. Either way, I don’t have the (usual) corona disease symptoms.


Rome at the time of the corona virus means that my eleven-year-old stepchild plays with the cat while I type this piece. She should actually be in school, but all schools are closed all over Italy since almost a month. We parents are also forced to sit at home. 


If my wife and I occasionally can’t be there for our child, or if the cat wants to sleep, my 84-year-old mother-in-law can jump in. She has lived in the palazzo next to ours for two years. The intention of her move to our neighborhood was that she could get help from us that way, but in practice she does very well as a babysitter. Later this month, her ‘job’ has also come to an end, because the elderly in particular have a high risk of being infected (although men have a 30% higher risk).


The church celebration two Sunday’s ago was also very special. We sat a meter apart in the wooden bench. The seats were marked with a cross made of white adhesive tape. Now church services are also taboo across the country.


The situation is dramatic for the economy. The tourism sector, that is so important for Rome, is dead. When everything is over, we will see how many hotels and restaurants will have been liquidated. The virus crisis unintentionally helps e-commerce. We are expected to leave the house only for what is necessary, and supermarkets and bakeries are open, but parcel deliverers are allowed to carry out their work.


Apart from deaths and economic suffering, this crisis does offer an opportunity to take a step back and philosophize about the limits to human makeability.


I am very concerned that Italy has been hit so hard. The country is brave enough to take far-reaching measures to combat the spread of the virus. Perhaps Italy is also the nicest boy in the class. Today I read a piece from an Italian journalist who suspects that other European countries adhere to a medical omertà. They would, like Sicilian criminals in their silence (omertà), keep a lit on the real health situation in their countries.


That is a very Italian thought. The virus of the conspiracy theory won’t be easily eradicated.


Codogno 27 feb 2020


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