When the whole world was looking at Italy with worry, the virus was spreading everywhere else. This is because that worry wasn’t always “genuine”, but more often led by a stereotypical consideration of Italy, (one of) the“open flank” of Europe. With all the lack of controls and weak structures… (allusion by some news from England), being the country of disorganization and slowness “par excellence” (tacit from some French news). And this attitude came also from our debate. Is this disturbing? Yes, because it doesn’t tell the whole story…
Italy is paying a huge tribute in deaths, but, at least had the honesty to batten down the hatches, maybe for the first time, while others still preferred to live in their fake idea of being infallible (until a few days ago). And now they are risking the last straw! Forced to follow the example of Italy…
This is the reversals of stereotypes, those that all we need sooner or later. First off, we have to start with a consideration. In recent times finding good news is always more difficult. The sources have multiplied, but what we are registering now, during a situation like this one, is that today even data and institutional sources can be contradictory, probably not with“fake intentions”, but just because everyone is dealing with something we didn’t know and we still don’t fully know until it will end. Especially we are in emergency, we all must realize it, and in this comprehensible rush so different approaches (country by country) at the moment do not permit deep studies and realistic comparisons. Here we’ll try to stick to the only facts we have: the history of what is just happened and the trends more than the daily numbers. Because tomorrow any statement can be denied and any data can change.
The first perception: from outside it seemed that Italy was the first affected country out of Asia, but actually the situation went different. The first case of coronavirus out of China or neighbour countries (Thailand, Japan, Korea etc.) was registered in Usa (January 21st). And then France (January 24th). Then Canada and Germany (27th). UAE and Finland (29th)… and then Italy, on January 30st with the first cases (two chinese tourists in Roma). And the very next day Italy declares “state of emergency” (for 6 months, until July 31st), first in Europe to close the air traffic with China (at least the direct flights…).
21 days after, in February, just the day after our first Italian patient in Codogno, Italy starts to stop activities in the interested area in the North. Two weeks later, on March 9th, the whole country is in lockdown (or the good old term: quarantine). To make a rapid comparison on lockdowns: in France it was announced on March 17, while Germany has so far eschewed a federal lockdown, and so did USA (but we only talk about USA’s delay…) By the way, just in the recent days, the Campus Bio-Medico University of Roma, in its latest report published on the Journal of Medical Virology, found that Italy registered “two epidemic entrances” in the country, one from China (in the center) e one from Germany (in the north). We now know that the epidemic started at the beginning of January, but it was impossible to recognize it, like it happened in China already in November 2019. “This means that we Italians were not the ‘plague-spreader of Europe“, as everyone thinks yet, “but those who suffered the event”. Like everyone now.
And this is the point. All the countries have streghts and weaknesses, but Italy has no specific fault, and in any case there’s no reason to worry about an “external reputation”, intention that, from the Italian perspective, some country intended to have at the very beginning. We think about the first public statements from Macron (only worried about the upcoming election) or Johnson (only worried about the cold “business as usual” philosophy). Without mentioning Trump, who, until recent days, tried to deny the pandemic itself. At this point Conte, that wasn’t so loved until now, was at least able to speak to an astonished population. Many people (not only Italians) are now considering that his behavior was much better: rational, reasonable, calm and clear. He’s a lawyer, and probably this helps. But this is the figure that a country needs in a so tough period.
“We are all reflecting about the life styles we had, I’m convinced that we’ll be better persons after this period”, Conte said. And above all, he’s the one that still use words like “epidemic” or “pandemic” – but he likes also “tsunami” -, avoiding to use the super disturbing comparison with the war that it’s spreading around the world, with all the connected risks. This is not a war, a war justify the exceptional nature of the situation, but this situation is not exceptional, well in part yes, but it comes from precise reasons, it’s not here like a punitive pest sent by a God. Something that people must accept without utter a word: our consumerist society must be abandoned. We, with our behaviors, are the first reason of this pandemic, and if we don’t change, it will be only the first of a long series.
Regarding reputation, we know that Italy is not always well prepared. We still have old conviction: only the scientific board is speaking now and they decide to use the most rapid way to update the population, giving a “daily bulletin” at 18:00 with the total amount of the new infected, dead and healed, without distinguishing, for example, between who die for coronavirus and who dies with coronavirus. The difference will be important in term of medical research, but right now maybe not as a country. Also, it is difficult to manage a so large amount of numbers during an emergency. But Germany, for example, is using another method, reporting only the “attributed mortality”: this is more accurate but it also keep their numbers lower than ours. An Italian epidemiologist, internationally renowned, Pierluigi Lopalco said, from the very beginning, that this bulletin would have been “a real problem in communication”, because the numbers are terrible day by day and they can’t show what the system is really doing.
There must be more solidarity, understanding and care between us. Governments that show more empathy like the Italian one is trying to do. We have receiving a sincere (because always communal) help also from China, Cuba, Albania, the same Germany that is always fingered as the “bad master”. Another stereotype, even if it is true that Germany holds the power in Europe, but first of all it can afford it, second we can’t confuse the attitude of a government with the attitude of a people, third Germany is only the first of the many Northern/Eastern countries that are defending their interests. This is rationally comprehensible, as we Italy, Spain, Greece etc. try to defend the interests of the South.
Without forgetting that many people in Germany and other countries ran off to defend Italy position. And yesterday even the Dutch finance minister Wopke Hoekstra said: “I should show more empathy in the Europe meeting”. While today it is the turn of Ursula Von der Layen’s apologies, the European Commission president: “Today Europe is mobilizing alongside Italy. Unfortunately, this has not always been the case. It must be recognized that in the early days of the crisis, in the face of the need for a common European response, too many have thought only of their own home problems. They did not realize that we can only defeat this pandemic together as a Union. It was harmful and could be avoided. In these days the distance between individuals is fundamental for our safety: the distance between European nations, on the contrary, puts everyone in danger“.
Now we want to believe that from all over the world this emphatic sentiment should and will grow, without allowing the same economic or political interests to led this change. Because we are now all involved, and this is not a game (at the end the war is the favorite one for male humans – sorry but in this case we can generally state that for women is not like the same). This is our chance to be a better humanity that can live with others without endorsing stupid and useless matters like pride, greed, envy, wrath. Universal “deadly sins” not by chance.
As a “union” we should work on understanding that needs and sentiments among people are just the same, even if they seems different in tone and content, while others perspectives can be really different due to many reasons. Where we live, how our society raised us, the possibilities we get in our lives. Togheter but different. This must be the European thinking. And not because someone pretends to be different. We are all different humans. And for this we are rich…
(continue with Coronavirus, how to navigate the confusion of data)
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