Why Italy Is Getting Hammered by the Coronavirus

A disproportionately large 60-and-over population, daily intergenerational contact, a lack of tests and an overwhelmed medical system fueled the crisis in Italy.

In mid-January, the 11 million people living in China’s Wuhan region were thrown into a Draconian lockdown to help contain the rapidly spreading coronavirus.

Large swaths of the population were tested regardless of whether or not they showed symptoms, mega-triage centers were built to handle the mass influx of patients and travel restrictions were established, according to CNBC.

Italy closed off its first 11 northern towns, near Milan, in late February, and then ordered a nationwide lockdown on March 9.

By then, it was too late: the virus already slipped through Italy’s borders and began infecting the country’s disproportionately large 60-and-over population, which has been battered by the virus.

Two or three Italian generations often live under the same roof, more so than in other parts of Western Europe. It’s common for grandparents to look after their grandchildren on a daily basis, and for their adult children to look after them, once they become older. Now, efforts to combat the virus are putting an enormous strain on this social safety net, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Italy only has enough stock to test those showing symptoms, and unlike China, the country does not have the medical infrastructure to meet the unprecedented demand.

Due in large part to these factors, Italy now has 8,215 deaths compared to 3,291 in China.

The fallout has been excruciating. Italians, separated from their families, are dying alone and churches and morgues are filled with those who have passed away.

“It’s a horrible sensation, not being able to breathe,” said Fausto Russo, a 38-year-old fitness trainer who is one of 10,000 Italians whose infection has been cured. “Imagine putting your head under water.”

Judging by new projections, Italian health officials believe cases will continue to exponentially grow; however, the peak could arrive in the coming weeks, followed by a rollback of cases, according to the Associated Press.

That outcome has already come to fruition in Wuhan, where no new cases have been reported.

And some travel restrictions in the Asian region are set to be lifted by early April.

Meanwhile, in the States, New York is buckling under the pressure as medical staff race to keep up with the flood of new cases.

The U.S. now has 85,996 confirmed cases, and like Italy, cases are expected to exponentially surge in April.

American companies and health officials are now working at breakneck speed to manufacture and distribute ventilators and personal protective equipment for medical staff to address the potential demand.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a COVID-19 fund. To donate, click here.


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