Italy will be a still country from this Monday. A few hours after the publication of new shocking contagion and death numbers, the government in Rome shortly before midnight decreed that work in all factories, offices and companies would have to stop on Monday. According to Prime Minister Conte, only food production and medicines are exempt. Pharmacies, grocers, supermarkets, post office and banks should remain open. Agriculture and fishing are on the list that became known on Sunday, and the food and beverage industry is also allowed to continue working. Fabric may continue to be produced, but not for clothing, plastic, rubber, paper, aluminum and oil refineries are also indispensable, as is garbage disposal and disposal, water management, energy supply and air conditioning, including the respective craft.
Even trade unions demanded: Make everything tight
In a video message on Facebook, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte informed his compatriots shortly before midnight that the government “had another Step ”. It would “end any production that is not absolutely necessary and essential to ensure basic services and the functioning of the state during the emergency”. Conte spoke of the “greatest challenge of the post-war period. Our society has to stick together like never before, like a chain, if it wants to protect the most important asset, life. If only one link in this chain were to break, we would all be at much greater risk. The waiver, which seems like a step back today, will enable us to make a new start later. ”He added:“ Together we will make it. ”
Conte apparently reacted to pressure above all from Lombardy, the region most badly hit by Covid-19. Its president Attilio Fontana had already issued a much tougher exit ban on Saturday than Rome. Among other things, fines of up to 5000 euros should be imposed if menr were found in public as two people – although it remained open whether this also applies to families. Conte promised to do even more nationally.
In addition to Fontana, unions and the small business associations he met on Saturday had also demanded a clear cut from the Prime Minister. In the factories in the north, the production center of the whole country, workers had been on strike in the past few days because they did not see enough protection against the virus, for example at Electrolux in Treviso. The leader of Fiom’s largest metalworkers’ union, Francesca Re David, was quoted in Repubblica as saying, “Follow what science says and close everything that is not essential.” Other union officials reported that, for the first time, workers themselves called for their factories to be closed. But there were also issues: Nora Galofalo, chairman of the chemicals and textiles division of the Cisl trade union: “Closing a refinery or a window manufacturer leads to more people gathering than if you let the machines run at a reduced rate.”
What makes Lombardy a Covid hell?
Conte has spared even tougher measures so far because he feared for social cohesion during a foreseeable long crisis. He gave in late on Saturday evening – probably under the impression of the latest figures: 42,681 people are currently infected in Italy. In the 24 hours between Friday and Saturday 6:00 p.m. almost 800 deaths were registered by Covid-19. The unions may also have presented their figures for the meeting with the government: the largest CGIL for the greater Milan area has calculated that around 1.5 million people in employment could consider around 600,000 to be “systemically important”. Of the rest, however, despite extensive shutdowns – which so far had not affected the way to work – and without the approximately 150,000 home office workers, 300,000 were still on the road every day and could spread or catch the virus, in their offices and factories as well as on that Way there and from there. “There were many in Lombardy and in the north, the heart of the Italian productive economy, who have not closed,” Repubblica writes. “Too many.” The Corrriere della sera indicates the sheer size of the “plague center Lombardy” and its lively commuting.
This could be one of the reasons for the terrible death toll in Lombardy, which finally over has the densest network of well-equipped modern clinics in Italy. While an average of two percent of those affected died in China, the figure is ten percent there. The newspapers published long reports on the – possible – reasons at the weekend. We are talking about the “Lombard anomaly” or the “riddle of Bergamo”. In the terribly hit city, more than half of those infected have to go to hospital because of their severe symptoms . The reasons should be found quickly, said Ilaria Capua, one of the best-known Italian virologists and professors in Florida. “If this anomaly persists in Milan, it can also affect other large cities, London, Berlin or Paris.”
Among the suspects: possibly outdated air conditioning systems that carry the virus – in Bergamo, Cremona , Brescia and Italy’s first isolated red zone, Codogno, took the plague out of the way of hospitals. It could also aggravate the environmental problems of hyper-industrialized Lombardy. Lombardy has one of the highest density of factories and agricultural industries. Fine dust pollution and smog already promoted the pre-existing diseases that made Covid-19 so life-threatening: high blood pressure, breathing problems and diabetes, i.e. everything that most victims of the disease suffered from. However, the scientists advise caution. So far there is no evidence, and Veneto, China and Bavaria also shared this industrial structure with Lombardy.
The dilemma of the north of Italy
But there may also have been recent failures related to the role of industry. In her book “Malaterra” (subtitle: How Italy was poisoned), published two years ago and previously untranslated, environmental journalist Marina Forti described the dilemma of the north using the example of Brescia. In the city where the chemical company Caffaro had been producing for just a few kilometers from the center for decades, so much dioxin, PCB and other carcinogenic chemicals are stored in the ground that signs in public parks prohibit entering the lawn: “Brescia, one of the most prosperous cities in rich Lombardy, “writes Forti,” is also one of the most contaminated industrial areas in Italy. “In the engine room of the Italian economy, production has traditionally always been more important than the environment. Repubblica writes that when a large number of infected people were already known in Bergamo in February, the local business association tried to calm European customers with a promotional video “Bergamo is running”. Bergamo’s mayor Giorgio Gori has now admitted omissions, and at the weekend he and 200 colleagues from the north were among those who appealed to Prime Minister Conte: “Let’s shut it down.” Milan Mayor Beppe Sala had the persistence slogan weeks ago # milanononsiferma created and distributed via video, “Milan does not close.”
Help from Cuba and Russia – and from doctors in retirement
An article in The Sunday edition of the “Corriere della sera” in Milan also indicated other aspects of the infection and the official figures: especially the worst affected regions, the Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna tested less frequently for the virus, which is why the ratio between the number of infected people and the number of deaths is extremely high. Added to this is the close cooperation between the generations in Italy. The article refers to two studies from Oxford and Bonn: While less than five percent of adults between 30 and 49 years old lived with their parents in France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany, the proportion was higher in Japan, China, South Korea and Italy 20 percent. The grandparents often looked after the grandchildren; the virus was transmitted to the more vulnerable old people via the symptom-free younger ones.
Experts are now hoping that the officially prescribed artificial coma for Italy’s public life will slow down the deadly curve. Saturday night’s record 793 deaths reflect contagions that should be before the government’s first shutdown decree, says massacre virologist Virimo Massimo Clementi, who heads the virological laboratory at San Raffaele’s clinic in Milan. His colleague Carlo Signorelli, hygiene specialist at the same house, says: “We will experience the apex in the near future.”
Especially now that help is arriving. The Mayor of Brescia told the newspaper he was now hoping for support from those eight teams with Russian military doctors who were epidemic specialists. Cuba also sent specialists who were already in use after the Haiti earthquake – the 53 nurses flew to Crema, also a badly affected city.
After a slow start, Italy’s civil defense agency was able to report the success of its advertising campaign: 7900 candidates had answered their call to medical professionals across the country. 300 are now selected for the Corona Task Force. One of those who have retired due to the emergency is the anesthetist Giampiero Giron. A hospital in Padua asked if he was coming. Giron wanted. “Anything else would violate the Hippocratic oath,” says the 85-year-old. Fear for your own health? “Whoever has that shouldn’t take up this profession. How many surgeons contract hepatitis?” At the same time, Giron assured that he would also watch himself: “As soon as I notice that I’m becoming unsure, I stop.”