Coronavirus in Italy

Italy has been the country hardest hit by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) epidemic in the Western world. Whether this is due to the particular genetic make-up or social character of the population is hard to tell. It is suspected, however, that at the end of the flu season, Italian statistics will be in line with those of other countries affected.

What is certain is that Italy was the first European country to become aware of and do something about the epidemic. This is undoubtedly a result of the nation having a very effective, universal health-care system able to put preventative measures in place early on and a government that heeded the warnings of scientists and predictions of medical doctors.

Starting with testing suspected cases and putting people in quarantine who tested positive or had come into contact with those infected, to quarantining towns in Northern Italy with a high number of cases,  to even isolating the whole Lumbard region–which is the driving economic force in the nation–and bordering provinces,  to finally putting the whole country on lockdown, Italy has not been afraid to take the strong actions needed to limit or at least slowdown the spread of the virus with the specific objective of avoiding overcrowding of hospital intensive care units. Certainly, mistakes have been made–the epidemic came as a surprise to almost everyone –but this old country has taken this new virus very seriously.

The latest government decree dated March 9th and nicknamed “Io resto a casa” (I’m staying at home) encourages or requires people to do just that. Senior citizens are admonished  not to leave their homes unless it is absolutely necessary as they are the age-group most at risk. Schools and  universities are closed until April 3rd. Until then–or further word– travel restrictions do not allow people to leave the town or municipality where they are at present except for demonstrable necessity related to work, health or family. Shops and street markets are open but shopping centers will be closed at weekends to keep (especially young) people from aggregating and further spreading the virus. And the list goes on while some mayors and regional governors are calling for even stricter rules.

In light of all of this, Vademecum Italia has decided to send its readers the following ‘vademecum’ so that those of you here in Italy will be aware of what you can and cannot do and those abroad will have a better understanding of how seriously this country is taking the epidemic and perhaps even what they should or should not be doing to protect themselves from the virus wherever they may be.

The following recommendations concerning personal hygiene have been set down by the Italian Ministry of Health:

•Wash your hands often and thoroughly, (especially as soon as  coming home after coming into contact with other people, touching door knobs, etc.) In alternative, use a hand sanitizer.

•Do not hug, kiss or shake hands with people when you meet.

•Maintain a distance of at least 1 meter  (3ft) between yourself and others. (This is approximately the distance a droplet travels after sneezing.)

•Avoid contact with people who have acute respiratory-tract infections.

•Use a paper tissue to cover your nose when sneezing. If you don’t have one, sneeze into your elbow. Do the same for coughing.

• Do not touch your nose, mouth or eyes with your hands. (Conjunctivitis is one symptom of corona virus which can enter the body by touching the eye with an infected finger.)

•Do not share bottles or glasses when drinking. (Our mothers would add not to eat each other’s food!)

•Clean surfaces with a bleach or alcohol-based disinfectant.

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