Week 3 – Partition!!- Italy and the Coronavirus Epidemic

Like the Irish and Indians back in the day, Italians were shocked as their country was partitioned.

In an attempt to contain the Coronavirus epidemic the Italian government effectively cut the North off from the rest of the country by imposing a strict quarantine and lockdown.

People are not allowed into or out of the area, except with special permits. The 16 million people living there are not allowed to move about within the area.

The total lockdown was hardly surprising, given the spikes in infections and deaths over the past few days.

Here how they went:

Thursday, 5th March 2020
3296 infected;  148 dead (3.8%);    414 recovered 
1790/ 3296 (54.3%) hospitalized; 351/3296 (10.6%) in ICU
1155 quarantined at home

 – Friday 6th March 2020:
3916 infected, 197 dead, 523 recovered
2,394 /3916 (61%) hospitalised; 462/3916 (11.7%) in ICU
1,060 quarantined at home

 – Saturday 7th March 2020
5883 infected;   233 dead (4.0%);   589 recovered
3,218/5,883 (55%) hospitalised; 567/5,883 (9.6%) in ICU;
1,843 (31%) quarantined at home;

 – Sunday 8th March 2020
6,387 infected;  366 dead,   622 recovered
3,557/6,387 (55.6 %) hospitalised; 650/6,387 (10.1%) in ICU
2,180 quarantined at home

NB 7,375 = The total number of infections since the epidemic started in Italy

Under the new lockdown conditions, even Masses, weddings and funerals are forbidden. Shops are closed at week-ends. Bars and restaurants are open only until 6.00 pm and customers have to be kept at least 1 metre apart.

There’s no certainty that locking down the North will contain the epidemic. Indeed, Health Authorities are only talking about “delaying” it so the Italian NHS is not overwhelmed.

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So no peak in sight. As yet.

Remember: The benefits of lockdown in Wuhan were seen after 16-18 days.

Comments: Even though people in Italy, and by now all over the world, want definite answers on how to put an end to this epidemic and get  their lives back to as before, there are no answers.  There are only

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Whatever is done to control the spread of the CO-Vid 19 epidemic is just an attempt, a sort of trial-and-error experiment.
The scientific community has no firm evidence on what works in epidemics like this because we have never had an epidemic like this in modern times. 

Why quarantine and lockdown?
These tried and true strategies  have been used over the centuries throughout outbreaks of plague, the Black Death and so on. 

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You are alive today because those approaches worked for your ancestors.

What do we know about Co-Vid 19? 

1) The virus is highly contagious.
Like all infectious diseases, COVID 19 has a R0 number i.e. an index of how many people one infected person will, in turn, infect.

Its R0 is between 2-3, suggesting that for each case we do identify, we are missing 1-2 more,    (most probably people with no or slight symptoms) who will potentially infect 2-3 more people.

Consequently,  the infected population could double every 6.4 days.

2)This is a new virus.

The world population has never been exposed to it before and has no antibodies against it. There is no vaccine against it or current antiviral medicine and probably won’t be for another 12-18 months at the earliest.

Remember: Everything we know is being discovered in real time.

How long will the epidemic emergency last?

Most experts are saying about 2 months as they hope that, like the flu virus, CoVid 19 will be unable to resist Spring and Summer temperatures.

Nobody knows if it will stop soon or continue until Summer.

The WHO says there’s no evidence that it will disappear with the hot weather.

What happens if it doesn’t disappear in Summer?

It could become a full scale global pandemic. It could become endemic.

People would have to cope with it , just as they cope with seasonal episodes of colds and flu.

The WHO can’t say which of those realities is going to happen.

Will it come back next winter?

There’s a strong possibility that it will.

The 1918–1919 influenza pandemic known as the Spanish flu did. Although it started in Spring 1918 most deaths occurred from mid-September to mid-December of 1918. If that pattern repeats, a 2nd wave of Co-Vid 19 infections in the autumn could be catastrophic.

Who’s most at risk?

Men represent the majority of new coronavirus cases.

They seem to die more often from it, particularly when elderly (60+) with pre-existing heart or lung diseases, diabetes, cancer etc.

Can you catch Co-Vid 19 a second time?
There are sporadic reports that recovered patients got sick again.

If so, why?
They might not have been fully recovered. A second infection might be like a relapse of the flu which we know some people get. More worryingly, it could be like an allergic reaction, with the virus acting like a trigger

In the midst of the epidemic

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are there any further recommendations to help us? 

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Stay healthy

Eat a good balanced diet, exercise in a non-crowded place in the open air, not in the gym or swimming-pool. Get a good night’s sleep every night. 

Stay at home

Don’t go out or at least reduce sorties to the minimum. This is recommended not just for the over 65s but for everybody. In fact, some Italian towns, which are not in the quarantined north, are expected to order their citizens to do so in the coming hours.

Limit entertaining at home and visitors to your house.

Don’t have friends and relatives over for meals, parties, celebrations and so on.Use video-calls to keep in touch and hear their news.

Shop online instead of going to the shops in person.

The delivery man can call as he is arriving, leave the order at the garden gate or on the doorstep, go back to the van and wait a couple of minutes until he sees the person collect the order.

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Wash your clothes every day, adding disinfectant to the wash, to help prevent contagion. Trousers and skirts, jumpers, shirts can all come into contact with seats in offices, public transport, cafés etc in other words, places where lots of people transit every day.

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Wear disposable, plastic gloves to press lift buttons, switch on lights, open and close doors, pay cash and get your change.

Image result for clean and disinfect house
Keep your house clean. Disinfect light switches and door/window handles, work surfaces,showers, handbasins, baths, floors in the kitchen and bathroom.


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