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My Life in Milan During the Coronavirus

Updated: 3 days ago

Guest Author: Beatrice Tataranni

Since first being identified in the Hubei province of China in late 2019, a novel coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, has spread rapidly around the world, and was recently classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

The virus, which often presents symptoms similar to the flu, has been particularly damaging in several countries, including China, South Korea, Iran and Italy. In recent weeks, it has begun community spread in the US, where it spreads between people with no direct connection to other infected countries.

In early January, two Chinese tourists in Rome tested positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, which was causing tremendous damage in China. The virus began to spread in Italy; thousands of people people are now infected, and hundreds have died.

A small town in the north was identified as an epicenter, as more and more people started testing positive. With the disease spreading around the region of Lombardy, the government, fearing an epidemic, decided to take action, ordering the closure of public buildings, such as shops, museums, cinemas and schools, on Feb. 22. Slowly, all the northern Italian cities have started to shut down; everybody has quarantined themselves in their houses, trying to avoid any contact with people or using public transports.

Milan's Dumo Square after the government impose a lockdown on the city. Courtesy of the New York Times.

I live in Milan, the capital of Lombardy, which remains one of the most infected regions. As the virus spread, I noticed also that panic started spreading through people, unnecessary panic, that brought them to buy everything out of supermarkets, leaving nothing to other people.

Schools were first closed in mid-February, and on Feb. 28 we got the news that schools would remain closed indefinitely for student safety. This would seem like every students’ dream: having school canceled for weeks on end. But even though getting up late in the morning and spending most of my time binge watching TV sounds like fun, it really is not.

For the last few weeks, I have felt locked up in a bubble, only able to talk to my friends through texts or facetime, and not able to even go shopping or to the cinema.

And it has only gotten worse. The virus has spread rapidly across the region; the most recent death toll is over 1,000, and over 15,000 people have been infected. This week, the Prime Minister put the entire country on lockdown. Even though I, thankfully, have not gotten sick, I cannot leave my house. It is excruciatingly boring and frustrating.

On top of all of these emotions is the sense of chaos within my country. The news only talks about this virus and how fast it is spreading, which is amplifying the panic and making people think this is an actual apocalypse.

I notice that there are two types of people at the moment: the ones that quarantine themselves in their homes, and the ones that leave. There is a lot of misinformation going around, and many people no longer know what to do or how to act anymore. The internet is flooded with it, and it is causing serious damage. People need to know exactly what they’re facing or else, it’s going to become an even worse situation.

Personally, it is becoming hard to not be influenced by irrational fear. At the end of the school year, I am supposed to take final exams in order to graduate, but with school shut down from coronavirus, that might not happen. I am really worried about what will happen if I am not able to take those tests, although luckily many others will be in the same boat. Right now, I am trying to remain positive and keep living my life as best I can while taking some precautions, and hoping for a quick resolution.

Beatrice Tataranni is an 18-year-old who attends Liceo Scientifico Leonardo da Vinci in Milan, Italy.

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