Coronavirus outbreak: People dying every 3 minutes in Lombardy

Updated: Apr 04, 2020, 07:26 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Indian-origin Kevin Rebello, who is settled in Milan, pours his heart out to mid-day about the situation in Italy where COVID-19 has killed thousands

An empty street outside a church in Milan, Italy
An empty street outside a church in Milan, Italy

Kevin Rebello, a native of Naigaon who is currently settled in Milan, Italy, lives in fear of contracting the novel Coronavirus. With limited savings in hand and stock running out rapidly, he is also wary of his future, which he says is uncertain. On Friday, COVID-19 overall death toll in Italy touched 13, 915 while 1,15,242 tested positive are struggling to survive in the already stressed out medical care system.

Sharing the current situation of the country, Kevin, who is working with a healthcare centre from home and was a part-time tour operator before the pandemic hit the European nation, pours his heart out to mid-day from his rented apartment in Milan, Itay —

We are almost in the fifth week of home quarantine, and time does not seem to fly when you are confined in your home. I go to bed wondering what will happen next and when will this get over, and wake up thinking the same. I am afraid of falling ill. Experts say the wrath of the virus has just begun.

Death every 3 minutes

I live in Milan, the capital of Lombardy state where the cases are rising daily, with people dying every three minutes. More than 27,000 cases have been reported from Lombardy, which has a population of about 10 million. More than half the cases in Italy is from Lombardy.

I hear an ambulance every 20 to 25 minutes and pray for whoever is in there. The streets are otherwise empty. I sometimes listen to the stories of people who have lost their loved ones; sometimes families are unable to see their dying relative. It's painful.

When a person in critical condition dies during treatment, the authorities inform the family members and then cremates the person themselves. There are cremations every 15 minutes. What happens after that is a mystery, and I guess millions in Italy are wondering about the same.

I have a friend, who is missing since March 4. He was unwell and called an ambulance for check-up. They came, tested him and took him away, and till today no one has heard from him. This is what his daughter told us. Because of the privacy law, we can't even enquire.

No gathering in balconies

We have been told to stop going to the balconies and near open windows and to sing and chant together, as the experts who came from China shared that saliva is blown into the air when we open our mouth and it is likely to land on someone else's face or body below, and the wind can even carry it and it may spread on an object, like a car.

Kevin Rebello
Kevin Rebello

After it deposits on the ground, our shoes can gather the trace and we can bring it inside our homes. So we have kept aside a pair of shoes for outdoor work; we leave it outside and spray it with disinfectant every week when we go outside. We also wash the clothes we wear to the market and take shower after returning, all to maintain hygiene.

Lockdown extended

On March 23, the government extended the lockdown that was supposed to end on April 3 till April 30. We are staring at another three-months shutdown if situation doesn't improve.

The government has also increased the fine from 260€ (Rs 21,398) to 5,000€ (Rs 4,11,500), and imprisonment of up to 12 months for those found violating the rules and loitering on the road for no reason.

Other countries must now learn from the mistakes of China and Italy, as there is no time for making more errors.

1 shopping day a week

Only one family member is allowed to go once a week to the supermarket, and the queue is very long. We have to wait for at least two hours to get into the superstore and have to leave with the grocery within 25 to 30 minutes so others get a chance too. Everyone abides the rule, it's just civic sense. We buy just essentials for daily use.

From next month, I will have to make a choice between paying my apartment rent (about R70,000) or giving up essentials. There is money in ATMs, but we cannot step out due to the lockdown.

Parting words

We just hope and pray that no one has to go through this painful situation ever. My advice to you is please stay at home, invest your time with your families, and please don't take it [the pandemic] lightly. Don't even think 'nothing will happen to me', may be not, but you could unknowingly infect your family/community and the most vulnerable elder generation, and won't even know it.

So, for the sake of your fellow citizens, be safe and respect the health guidelines. A little sacrifice now will help end it and we could have a better future soon.

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