Like anywhere else, people in Italy also downplayed the threat of the COVID-19 when it was first detected. This attitude changed only after the country became the new epicenter of the outbreak. Now, the country is living through the tragedy the world has never seen before.
All 60 million of its residents are squirreled away at home, leaving only when necessary for food or medicines, armed with ID cards to show the police when they are inevitably stopped.
Italians in quarantine are sharing important messages to themselves — to who they were 10 days prior to the nationwide shutdown, to be specific — and now a compilations of those videos has gone viral world-wide. In an effort to warn others about how detrimental the coronavirus outbreak really is, the creators of the video are speaking out about why people must pay attention.
The video has received nearly 4 million views on YouTube alone.
“When we were first informed by Italian media about the coronavirus reaching Italy my friend group and I (along with the majority of the country) really underestimated the issue; we were almost mocking the few people who believed the issue was serious from the get-go,” Olmo Parenti one of the person behind the idea says. “But once we saw what was happening in Italy’s hospitals and we found ourselves stuck at home we decided we had to redeem ourselves in some way.”
Parenti goes on to explain that he’s watched as people in the United States, England, Germany and France have responded to the coronavirus with the same lack of urgency or understanding as many Italians did in the beginning. He felt that he had to create something that could save nations from making that same mistake. “We all realized how much our viewpoint had changed so quickly,” Parenti says, which lent to the idea of A THING BY’s latest video, published on March 15.
Many Italians are also taking to social media to warn the rest of the world to learn from their mistakes before it’s too late.
Italians from all backgrounds have urged others to stop underestimating a disease which is stretching northern Italy’s healthcare system to the limit.
Watching other countries reach our measures, slowly, one by one. Like why? Act fast, act together, stop it earlier. Every day you aren't isolating you are infecting more people. Or being infected. #coronapocolypse #coronavirushasnoborder #COVIDー19
— Lylion (@_lilyon_) March 16, 2020
“I want to warn you so that you don’t face what we are facing here,” Italian blogger Marco Cartasegna told his 386,500 followers on Instagram.
“Please take advantage of our example and act now to prevent a huge crisis in your countries,” he said.
“Protect yourselves, I beg you. Don’t listen to those who say it’s not serious,” Italian mother Linda Maresca wrote on Twiitter.
While Italy has been battling the outbreak for nearly a month, and now has over 31,000 cases and more than 2,500 victims, other countries have only recently been forced into taking action.
France and Spain have recently imposed lockdowns, while Belgium and Germany have ordered their citizens to stay at home, but others like Britain and the US have faced criticism for delaying anti-coronavirus measures.
Top Italian health expert Nino Cartabellota told The Local in a recent interview that other countries should follow Italy’s lead – immediately.
“The data shows that the majority of European countries are about to face a battle identical to the Italian one. The surge in cases in France, Germany and Spain follows the same trend as in Italy. It’s just 7-8 days behind.”
“The more promptly containment measures are implemented, the more effective they are,” he added. “Considering this, it’s necessary to act immediately, because tomorrow will already be late.”
Italy, the country firmly at the centre of the global crisis, exceeded China’s death toll last week despite having fewer confirmed infections and a far smaller population. More than 5,500 Italians are testing positive every day, with the average age of those dying 78.5.