Italy Extends COVID-19 Limitations Nationally, but Experts Insist Total Lockdown Is Needed
March 10, 2020 (EIRNS)—On the evening of Monday, March 9, the Italian government extended to the entire national territory the restrictive measures which had been introduced less than 48 hours before for Northern Italian regions. The measures, which will last until April 3, have been described as a “lockdown,” but a “half-lockdown” would be a more proper definition.
The purpose of the new decree, which is named “stay home decree,” is to slow down and reduce contagion which has hit northern Italy, but which is slowly expanding to central and southern Italian regions. The rate of daily new positive cases in Lombardy, the northern epicenter of the crisis is 25%. The Lombardy region has increased capacities for intensive care treatment beyond the 50% demanded by the government, but the upgrading is slower than the spread of contagion. Authorities warn that the situation is going to be unsustainable and demand even more drastic containment measures.
The current “stay home” decree is only a partial answer to that demand. It allows people to go to work and for commercial business to go on. It allows shops and supermarkets to stay open. Furthermore, a “self-declaration” is sufficient to be allowed to go through checkpoints at train stations or motorway booths. The result is that, while part of the population are following guidelines (the central stations in Milan and Rome today were significantly empty), another part are ignoring them altogether. Thus, over the March 7-8 weekend, ski resorts saw the most massive inflow of people in many years.
The presidents of the Lombardy, Piedmont and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions are demanding a “Red Zone” regime nationally. They report that the business community agrees with a more radical regime, which includes shutting down shops, public transportation, and production sites even if it means an economic loss to them, because they are aware of the seriousness of the situation.
Those demands were conveyed by opposition leaders to the government this morning, but Lega leader Matteo Salvini reported that the government has rejected them.
Former government official Michele Geraci, who is also a well-known China expert, has given many media interviews in the past days in the effort to conveying the need to adopt such measures. In his interview with Adnkronos yesterday, Geraci chastised the arrogance of Western leaders who refuse to accept that China is doing better than they are. “When Xi Jinping puts 60 million people in quarantine and restricts transport and travel for the remaining 1.3 billion people, there was a reason,” Geraci said. The Italian government “tends to chase after the problem instead of anticipatingit, like when, as kids, we all played soccer by running after the ball. And when you act in this way, credibility and competence are challenged by the population.
“We have a certain arrogance or delusion of knowing things among us, which increases when you speak about China because of widespread ignorance. Then it is psychologically difficult to accept that they are doing better, and therefore, to emulate them. Thus, precious time is lost.”
Geraci recalls that he had repeatedly insisted for the government to look at how China was using artificial intelligence and Big Data to track all citizens and have a real-time estimate of contagion probabilities. Rome did “Nothing. We use self-certification, which is insane, whereas by using technology it takes one second and nobody can cheat.”