22nd March, 2020 Covid-19 Update.

Hello again from Milan, Italy.

The world is treating Covid-19 as a pandemic and demanding populations be tested; please notice that tests can only be undertaken by hospitals, there’s no such thing as a home kit yet.

Also, there are some doubts about the reliance of such tests which could show false-positive results thus medical professionals are only testing people with serious symptoms who would then get admitted into hospital if considered at risk.

In Milan, we’ve been self-isolating for over two weeks now, with rules getting more restrictive each day; for instance, as of yesterday, only one person of the family can go out at once and that’s only to go to the chemist, the supermarket or to take the dog for a walk. No running, biking or walking outside for leisure.

We must keep one metre distance from one another when we’re queuing to get into either the chemist or the supermarket and we’re only allowed to be 100 metres away from our place of residence when taking dogs out.

We must have a self-certification document with us every time we go out which states the reason for the outing.

We wear ppf3 masks and nitrogen gloves at all times when we’re outside but they are in short supply.

For some reason my local supermarket has been out of eggs for a while, maybe people are baking lots of cakes, maybe it’s because of the beneficial effects of lysine in eggs, who knows. Toilet paper is available albeit scarce.

Only essential services and businesses are allowed to continue as usual, everything else is shut.

Some people are starting to panic and buying groceries in bulk, calling home-delivery services in order to stock up. This not only forces long queues but also causes supermarkets to run out of fresh products. Less-selfish citizens have to queue up for hours just to get their fair share. I hope the government will put a stop to this by implementing rules on how much food or medicine one is allowed to purchase.

Anyone who doesn’t comply with the rules, e.g., by going out for a stroll, will get a 500 Euro fine. There are police and army cars everywhere. City parks that have fences are closed to the public until, at present, the 3rd of April.

Public transports are working, with restrictions, but they are operative.

We still have ventilators for everyone and we are NOT, I repeat, NOT choosing who to treat and who not to treat. Everyone affected gets treatment. We’re isolating in order for this to be able to continue by not overwhelming our hospitals and allowing people to recover.

Our Free National Health Service is arguably one of the best in the world — although our taxes are also extremely high so calling it free might be incorrect — Health-care workers are exhausted, working 24/7 to deal with the emergency. Supermarket and chemist’s workers are also working non-stop and putting themselves and their families at risk by doing so. Please be polite, grateful and understanding.

It is reported that most deaths, and we’re having many of them, are elderly people with pre-existing conditions yet, it has to be said that, notwithstanding all the precautionary measures we’re taking, numbers continue to rise.

You may check for yourself at this link which is updated daily: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries

Please keep calm but please keep safe.

Covid-19 My personal experience of every-day life in Milan, Italy, and summary of Italian News translated into English. Hope you enjoy and find it helpful and informative (I’ll try my best).

Milan, Italy, 13th of March, 2020.  

Positive cases n. 14.955; Deaths: n. 1.266; Recovered: n.1.439. 

I believe that although we’re only at the beginning of this pandemic we’ve already had some good news coming our ways. 

My mother’s eighty-two and lives across the hall from me so I understand how difficult this can be for the most vulnerable but it’s my belief that with the proper information and prevention we can ALL be safe.  

As I’m living in the epicentre of the western world epidemic and have the luck of speaking both English and Italian, I can easily translate the Italian News thus making it more accessible to English speaking people.  

I will also try to report on every-day life in Milan with the purpose to show that life goes on as usual albeit with a few adjustments due to the health situation 🙂  

My advice? Act as if Covid-19 were already a national emergency and act accordingly.  

Here in Milan, our hospitals, all over the country, are currently using “Tocilizumab” which has been proven to speed up recovery of patients on respirators/ventilators. Its typical use is for rheumatoid arthritis but at the Cotugno hospital of Naples, Italy, MD. Paolo Ascierto, president of the Melanoma Foundation and head of the Oncology, Immune therapy and Innovative therapies of the National Institute for Tumours, IRCCS Pascale, has said it’s proving very effective in treating Covid-19 pneumonia on a off-label basis, i.e., not for the illness it is usually prescribed for (Rheumatoid Arthritis), with great results. The pharmaceutical company Roche supplies it free of charge.  

Germany is distributing test kits all over Europe, once we have more access to tests things will improve exponentially. Meanwhile self-isolate, do not visit with family and friends, do not go to crowded places.  

The virus might prove to be air transmitted which would mean it would have the potential to travel EVERYWHERE so start protecting yourselves and your loved ones ahead of time.  

Right now, in Italy, we’re not allowed to leave our homes apart from going to work (by either car or public transport), going to the supermarkets and chemists or to take our pets out. City parks are also off-limits.  

The above mention activities we are still allowed to engage in, must only be undertaken if absolutely necessary, on our own, wearing ppf3 masks and nitrogen gloves and by carrying a self-declaration document that attests and justifies our movements. This is good because it’ll halt the spreading of the virus and allow both patients to recover and medical staff to deal with the emergency before becoming overwhelmed.  

There’s no food shortage as goods are allowed to move freely and supermarkets receive fresh products daily hence no need to panic.  

The only items which are proving difficult to find are disinfectants, especially alcohol-based ones, nitrogen gloves and ppf3 masks so now it’s a good time to stock up on them together with disposable tissues and paper towels.  

Also, items like fresh milk, fruit and vegetables are harder to find at the weekend when more people go to the supermarket hence, whenever possible, we try to shop during the week days. 

Those who are able to work from home (smart work), are encouraged to do so while those who have no other option but going into their usual places of work – think doctors, nurses, cashiers, etc., – will be sent home the minute there’s a single case of infection in the work environment in order to self-isolate (quarantine is not the correct wording as it means forty days), for a fortnight to make sure they don’t develop the symptoms and spread the virus further.  

Obviously, all of this has dire consequences on the economy but right now it seems the most sensible option and I hope all countries will soon implement the same measures; the sooner the better.