At 3 a.m. on March 8, the Italian Council of Ministers issued the much awaited decree on Covid-19, better known as the new coronavirus.
The decree declares the closing of the whole Lombardy region as well as 14 provinces between Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna, including the cities of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro, Urbino, Venice, Padua, Treviso, Asti, Vercelli, Novara, Verbano Cusio Ossola, and Alessandria.
The red zones restriction means not just that no one is allowed to leave and then reenter the region, but also that all movement between single cities is forbidden. For example, someone living in Bergamo would not be able to go to Milan, even though both cities are located in the red zone. The only accepted reasons for travel between cities is for a business purpose or for an urgent reason, but all must be proven. People are being asked to work from home if possible, and not to leave the house.
The predominant guide lines are the following:
- The closing of all the theatres, cinemas, cultural centers, ski areas, gyms, and pools;
- Shopping centers will be open from Monday to Friday;
- Bars and restaurants will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.;
- Bars can only serve seated clients and must maintain one meter distance clients under penalty of closing;
- All cultural events and conferences are suspended;
- Wedding and funerals are suspended;
- All the people in domiciliary quarantine are forbidden to leave home under penalty;
- School will be closed until the April 2.
- People with a body temperature of 99.5 must stay at home.
Giuseppe Conte, president of the Council of Ministers, claimed that shortly after the draft was discussed, all the major media were reporting the draft’s content. As a result, people stormed train stations in the regions about to be quarantined, with the goal of traveling to the southern regions of Italy in order to avoid the misery of being confined to their homes.
“This leak of news is an unacceptable event, an act of irresponsibility that a draft has been made public before the approval,” Conte said during a television address at 9:08 a.m. on March 8.
Doctor Roberto Burioni, a well known and respected virologist from the hospital San Raffaele in Milan, expressed his disappointment on several social media platforms. “I’m speechless about the dissemination of the informations before the decreed has been signed by the Council,” he said. “This just got people panicking. The virus will be spread all over. Stop it!”
To date, Covid-19 has affected 5.000 individuals, with 589 people having recovered 589 and 233 have died.
The virus, that between last Monday and Tuesday seemed to be slowing down, has now started to accelerate its spread. On March 7, Giulio Gallera, the Lombardy welfare assessor, said that the health system in Lombardy exhibited extraordinary strength, but the system is about to become exhausted because of the number of patients in intensive care.
Addressing the situation, President Conte said: “We are stocking up new machines for the intensive departments.”
The Italian SIAARTI, the Italian Society of Anesthesia, Reanimation and Intensive Care, on March 7, published a document that included 15 recommendations and concluded by saying that Italy is headed toward a situation where the doctors will be obliged to make a choice about saving the patients with more possibilities to survive and letting go the others.
And about the weakening of the virus with the warmer spring temperatures, Silvio Brusaferri, the President of Istituto Superiore di Sanità, the technical body of the public health system in Italy, says that we still can not make a prediction.
In the meantime, Italy is facing the problem to find a way to control its population and assure that all the rules and restrictions will be respected.
Top photo of President Conte by Federica di Cintio