Coronavirus: What the UK can learn from Italy about coping with COVID-19

Tuesday 24th March 2020 21:15 GMT

It was a tough decision for the first country in Europe to take such drastic action.

A tough message to citizens that they were facing the biggest crisis since World War 2.

Italy has had to learn the hard way. But people are coping. And the UK will too.

Italians have realised there's no need to panic. Supply chains have kept flowing and supermarket shelves are well stocked.

People have continued to shop normally, and there's plenty to go round.

The penny has now dropped too that everyone is responsible for the outcome of this crisis.

In the initial days Italians had similar lockdown conditions to the UK - people were allowed to exercise on their own, they were allowed to go to work if they couldn't do their job from home.

But those measures have been tightened further as the virus continued to spread.

It's taken a huge national effort but there's hope lockdown is now working.

Italy is finally seeing a slow in spread with a smaller day to day increase in positive cases.

It's early days and it will take time for the crisis to lift but there are signs they are beginning to contain the virus.

Lockdown is saving lives and protecting frontline healthcare.

This is a disease that has spread like wildfire and is killing slowly. More than 6,000 people have died and nearly 7,500 people have recovered.

Tens of thousands though remain infected, more than 3,000 of those are in critical care.

The knock on effect means that hospitals are overwhelmed with very sick people who doctors cannot cure.

People can remain in intensive care for weeks before dying.

And there aren't enough ventilators, beds or medics for more patients - more than 5000 healthcare staff now have COVID-19 too.

When hospitals become too full in war zones, patrols are minimised to lower the chance of more casualties.

The principle behind lockdown is similar. By keeping people at home it will saves lives. If not yours, then someone else's.

And this is a war everyone needs to fight together.

While Italy may be viewed as an extreme example, the reality is the virus spread in other countries is following a similar trajectory and we don't know it won't reach the same crisis levels.

Around two weeks ago Italy had a similar number of deaths as the UK. The country has now lost more than 6000 lives in a little over a month.

By implementing lockdown now, the same emergency can hopefully be averted.

It won't be easy but it's worth it if other countries can be spared Italy's pain.

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