• Michelle Gemayel

What’s happening in Italy? Coronavirus.

Dear friends in Lebanon,

Since a lot of you are asking me about the situation here in Italy and jokes on the coronavirus are still being shared (unfortunately) I am writing this small letter to everyone hoping it helps. I understand that a lot of us would rather not panic especially that everyone has been living under pressure ever since October (at least) but seeing how this is affecting the world I think ignoring it is a sign or irresponsibility.

Here’s an idea of the situation in Italy...

When the virus hit Italy during the first days/weeks, it was not taken seriously (similar to the current stage in Lebanon) people were encouraging each other to go out even launching a social campaign with the title “Milano doesn’t stop”, going on with the fashion shows and some exhibitions. Days later it was confirmed the northern region (Lombardy) of Italy was at risk to later on be labeled as “Red Zone”.

With this came restrictions on ALL transport, we saw long supermarket queues because a limited number of people could enter the supermarket at once, the Milanese stock market plunging, packed hospitals (intensive care units), hotel reservations getting cancelled for the next year, big/small exhibitions postponed, flights to/from Italy being cancelled and the trading business at risk to say the least.

All of the above affected the mental state of the people not to mention the financial one. Intensive care units couldn’t handle the number of people being admitted to the hospital hence creating even more panic followed by the fact that the priority was given to younger people or those with a clean health history hence kind of disregarding the elderly.

The Italian government’s capability to perform tests on those with the slightest symptoms wasn’t for their advantage as it placed the country second/third on the map. However, the tests performed accurately showed exactly how many people had it and numbers were increasing by the hour which later on helped the government take action and act to contain the virus.

The idea is that no the numbers communicated by the Lebanese government are not correct because no tests are done so technically they have no idea WHO IS ACTUALLY INFECTED and that’s how it spreads.

So, seeing the current situation in Lebanon where we are already experiencing a financial crisis, tourism is low to none, hospitals are barely capable of curing the current cases for those who have a public health insurance, no tests are done and it’s as if we are already living on lockdown, I think it’s every Lebanese’s responsibility to take action starting with themselves in order to protect the people around them.

Most importantly we need to stop comparing it to a regular flu because:

• Not everyone’s immunity system is high enough to handle it

• It can’t be cured with antibiotics

• No medicine has been confirmed to cure it

• A limited number of hospitals could be equipped to handle such an epidemic

Here are the rules Italy applied since yesterday perhaps you can all start acting without waiting for the government to announce a lockdown:

🟠 BARS and RESTAURANTS: people always seated and total closure at 6 pm.

🟠 TAKE AWAY PIZZERIAS: open, allowing very few people to enter at a time and always keeping their distance. Hotels can only serve dinner for guests and keep their distance.

🟠 BEAUTICIANS, HAIRDRESSERS, DENTISTS - most of them are closed and dentists are only taking urgent cases.

🔴 Can I go to eat with relatives? If they are old, avoid. It is not a necessary move. The logic is to STAY AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE AT HOME, with your family, to avoid that the possible infection spreads and this happens when you frequent others, even the members of your extended family. For a while, at least until April 3, try to keep a distance. Use videocalls!

🟠 Can I go for a walk with the children? Yes, preferably in the countryside, in places where there is no gathering and always keeping distance. It is not forbidden to go out, but it is to be avoided to gather in small groups unless you live in the same house.

🟠 Can I move for work? Yes, for work it is allowed, but employers are invited to put people on vacation and to limit the activity to what cannot be postponed. In the workplace, all precautions must be taken to avoid spreading the infection.

🟠 Can I go to assist my dear elderly who are not self-sufficient? This is a condition of necessity. But remember that they are the people most at risk, so try to protect them as much as possible.

🔴 My father / grandfather / father-in-law does not understand the limitations and goes out anyway to go to the bar / friends / to look at construction sites: what can I do? From tomorrow, the brigades will go around the country, supervising the situation and warmly inviting all people over 65 to STAY AT HOME: not for themselves, but for the community. I ask everyone to do their utmost to convince these people that the situation is serious and we must act with a sense of responsibility.

🟠 Can I go shopping at the minimarket in my village? Yes, it is possible, but ALL DEALERS from today are required to establish a MAXIMUM NUMBER OF PEOPLE who can stay INSIDE THE STORE (based on the surface). The others have to pass later or wait outside, keeping a distance of one meter from each other.

Definitely keep calm but act smart!


© 2018 by Jennifer El Hage